You’d expect a gathering of over 1,300 financial professionals under one roof to be bullish on the future of financial advising.
But as it turns out, it’s not really about financial advice as a whole—it’s about the right financial advice. The future will be most kind to those advisors who adapt to technology and provide personalized experiences to each client.
This was the underlying message of the 2019 eMoney Summit, held in Austin, Texas earlier this month.
The theme of the conference, “The Heart Of Advice,” was built upon an extension of research first done in 2018 by eMoney and Fidelity that identified the shared characteristics of the most successful financial advisors. These advisors are adaptable, using technology as much— if not more—than their peers, and they are planning-led, meaning they build their entire business around conversations with clients.
“Why is all that important? Because the research also showed that these advisors are far exceeding the performance of other advisors,” said eMoney CEO Ed O’Brien. This includes investment outperformance, greater client acquisition, and client retention over the last five years.
Investing In Technology
At this point, most financial advisors are leaning heavily on technology in their practices.
According to eMoney’s 2019 research:
- 98% use some sort of financial planning software
- 87% of advisors use technology in real-time in a client meeting
- 84% use data aggregation to provide a more holistic view of a client’s financial life
- 78% of advisers are using decision-modeling tools
But the most successful financial advisors today invest more in technology, according to O’Brien, spending about 20% more in technology than the industry average.
This focus on technology was a major theme of the Summit, as eMoney also announced two new products that they hope will make it easier for advisors to and end clients to use technology in their planning. The first, dubbed “Project Avocado” is a mobile app meant for people who want to have a more self-directed approach to retirement planning. The second is eMoney Access, an API solution for enterprises that provides access to planning, client fact data, document storage, and other features found within the platform through a developer storefront.
Delivering ‘The Heart Of Advice’
The outlook for the financial advisory industry is strong. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of personal financial advisors is projected to grow 7% over the next 10 years, faster than the average occupation. This is due to rising life expectancies, which will increase the demand for financial planning services.
But what exactly does “The Heart Of Advice” mean, and how exactly does all of this translate to the advisor-client relationship?
Advisors that deliver on this ethos, according to O’Brien, don’t show a strong bias toward a particular company or product, are flexible enough to meet the needs of different clients, and can also pivot their advice when client needs or attitudes change.
“Clients won’t expect you to know everything, but they will expect you to present the balanced picture and be able to talk through the pros and cons of all the decisions that they need to make in their financial lives,” he said. “The best advisers often practice active listening—they're not just listening for the next opportunity to speak. They’re always responsive and available by being able to talk to a client when they need to talk.”
Doing so, said O’Brien, enables advisors to not just serve clients as their financial advisors, but “as their coach, their motivator, their problem solver, and yes, even the therapist. And so when you have done all that, you've connected to the heart of a client's needs and you've delivered a heart of advice experience.”
Photo credit: eMoney
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