The wealth industry is traditionally slow-moving. The pitfalls of knee-jerk investment decisions have moved wealth brands to believe that slow-moving, yet watchful modes of operating are more effective in the long run. However, the Fintech movement is challenging long-established beliefs, and instead of placing traditional custodians as the source of information, the movement seeks to use the Internet to empower customers with frequent information updates and access to tools that enable effective decision making.
Information itself is not useful until turned into knowledge and dispensed as wisdom. Putting complete faith in technology and the Fintech movement could be considered bold and is a decision that could end in disappointment. Instead, financial advisors must play a unified middleman role between the traditional stable investment movement and the fast-paced information movement.
Given that every financial advisor needs to be compliant with regulatory rules, Derek Gardiner, Seed Analytics’ CEO asks, "What are the five things advisors should be doing?"
Standard healthy financial advice is relatively easy to find. A quick Google search reveals pages of helpful articles. Similarly, Amazon provides access to excellent wealth management books in less than ten clicks.
Access to information is not only what an advisor should be providing. What clients need is empathetically driven, palatable, timely, and appropriate wisdom based on their set of circumstances and motivations.
An example here would be a case where a couple sought advice on Bitcoin from their wealth advisor. They met at a local coffee store around the time that the price of Bitcoin was fluctuating at the USD 1,000 price mark. They asked their advisor for advice on buying Bitcoin, and he advised against it. At the end of the coffee, the advisor got into his Porsche and drove off. Today the price of Bitcoin floats around the USD 8,000 mark, once having reached a high in the region of USD 17,000. The lesson here is that advisors need to be prepared to provide either sound advice on different vehicles or introduce their clients to people in their network who have the knowledge to do so.
Be a guide
In his book "To sell is human", Daniel Pink introduces the notion that the Internet has not eradicated the salesman. Instead, the role has simply changed. Previously, the salesman would be the main source of information on a product or service they were selling. Nowadays, the Internet has made access to information and services so readily available that clients can acquire it themselves. We can see a vast increase in the introduction of various automated advice and investment sites, which prove popular with tech-savvy clients. Advisors no longer have to be the authoritative source of the information needed to make an investment choice, but they do need to use that information, together with the client, to journey with them on making the best investment decision.
Regular, contextualised feedback
Imagine playing several rounds of golf yet only being able to see your score once a year. The resulting experience would most likely be fraught with frustration, yet this is expected of the financial services industry. Advisors have access to the data necessary for monthly reporting and should provide their clients with a consolidated investment statement, together with market performance information as context every month.
Fearless, pro-active engagement
Regulation forces advisors to meet with their clients once a year. This regulation is the driving force of the engagement. The market faces many changes throughout the year, such as exchange rate fluctuations, the growth or contraction of particular investment vehicles, or the collapse of specific JSE-listed companies. Advisors should look beyond regulation and seek differentiation through personalized engagement with clients. Market events create excellent opportunities for personalized engagements. Using market events together with cost-effective digital channels to drive engagement, advisors can differentiate themselves from their competitors at a relatively low cost.
As the sector evolves and Fintech becomes accessible to more and more people, it’s still important for traditional financial advisors to utilise the data and technology they have at their fingertips to deliver sound advice to their clients. Gaining the trust of clients, keeping up to date with the latest market trends, and delivering informative and comprehensive monthly reports goes a long way in building a lasting relationship between the advisor and their clients.