Financial Planning Archives - Genivity
What Advisors Can Learn From Retailers

What Advisors Can Learn From Retailers

The media has been tireless in reporting on the new state of retail in the United States. Some call it a “retail apocalypse” others see it as an evolution of traditional brick and mortar. Whatever the hot take of the day is, one thing is for sure: retail is changing.

What does retail have to do with financial advising?

As an advisor, you should be focused on creating an engaging client experience. To that end, it’s good to ask yourself “what can I learn from the changing landscape of retail?” While retail and financial advisors work in very different segments, that doesn’t mean there’s no overlap. Retail successfully generates billions of dollars in sales every year and cements customer loyalty along the way. In the same way, building trust and loyalty with your clients is incredibly important.

The new push in the retail arena is “retail experience.” It’s no longer good enough to just set your wares out on a shelf and hope passing customers jump at the deals, they need to be invested in the shopping experience itself as soon as they set foot in the store.

The same thing rings true with your firm. What are you doing to make sure that your advisees have a great experience when talking about their financial future? You probably won’t be able to invest the same type of resources that a retail giant would, but you can scale appropriately.

Easy steps to building a great customer experience

Simple gestures like offering beverages or snacks to clients that sit down in your office go a long way. Likewise, taking clients out for lunch now and again (especially if they have sizeable investments with you) is a no-brainer. Even simply calling up and checking in on clients to see how they’re doing, allowing them to talk to you about their financial lives, can go a long way.

Allowing your clients to interact with you and their money in a way that they feel comfortable is a must. Whether that’s face-to-face, more or less digital, or somewhere in between, making sure that your clients feel heard and accommodated will build trust and give them the ultimate financial advising experience.

Try brainstorming some ideas to improve your customer experience, you’ll be happy you did and it might just be the investment you needed to take your firm to the next level.

Three Insights for Better Client Experiences

Three Insights for Better Client Experiences

Everyday, whether you actively acknowledge it or not, you’re fighting with every other firm out there to manage clients’ wealth. The question you should be asking yourself each day is what separates you from your competitors. Why would a client choose you? If you’re struggling to find ways to get a leg up on your competition, we’ve put together some solutions based on how Amazon thinks about their customers and what you could learn from them.

1. Be Obsessed With Your Customers and Listen to them 

Amazon, as you know, is in the business of selling physical things. There are some products that you can pass on to your customers, but largely you’re in the world of management. That doesn’t mean you can’t learn anything from your customers, however. Every little piece of feedback you get, you should be documenting and revisiting. Likewise, be proactive: ask your clients what you could be doing better or what would make their experience with your firm better. Maybe you don’t respond to emails promptly, or your desk is always messy, even small things like this can have a big impact on who stays with you and who jumps ship. 

2. Invest in Relationships

There’s an old adage that says “If you do something well, your customer will tell 10 people, do it poorly and they’ll tell 100.” This is true in every single market, but few more so than yours. In a relationship-based market, you need to make sure those clients think the world of you. We don’t need to tell you that a lot of wealth management work comes from referrals. Make sure you take this to heart and go above and beyond to keep these relationships strong and trusted.

3. Deliver More Value Than Your Customers Expect

Speaking of above and beyond… Hopefully, we don’t need to tell you that underpromise and over-deliver are hallmarks of any good business, but just in case, here it is. If you have the opportunity to deliver more value to your customers, do it. This one rule encompasses the prior two points as well. You can strengthen your relationships by doing 110% and it’s a great way to show that you’re obsessed with customers. This can be as simple as showing them a better account to invest in or showing them extra options for a retirement fund. Any way you want to deliver this value, figure out what your client wants and then exceed it.  This is not an overnight fix, but if you start thinking like a world-class customer experience business, then you can increase your book of business and provide greater value to your clients.
The Role of Technology in your Practice

The Role of Technology in your Practice

Technology is a little bit like the story of goldilocks. Every firm has their own preference in how much technology they’d like to use. Some firms might prefer to be on the cutting edge, constantly examining how they could use more tech to benefit their customers. While others might prefer more paper and hardcopies so they know their data can’t be compromised.

Technology is no longer just a nice-to-have

Whatever you think the role of technology in your practice will be, one thing is for sure, it’s here to stay. For the tech-averse firms out there, the time is coming that you will have to implement more software into your practice to be able to stay competitive. There are too many options and too much information out there that simply can’t be parsed by human minds in an efficient manner. Onboarding new technology to help you with this simply is a must. But that’s not to say that all financial technology is right for you or your clients’ needs. 

Change certainly is difficult, but if a firm wants to have any chance of moving forward and staying competitive in today’s marketplace, the adoption of more, not less technology, is critical.

Know before you adopt

Firms that go “all in” on tech should take heed, however. Advisors that try to stay on the up and up with technology might quickly find themselves isolating clients who are less trusting of our technological world and prefer things a bit old fashioned.

Likewise, certain clients may simply not understand or not care to understand how to use software and computer related financial management systems. Forcing them to adopt something out of their comfort zones may push them to find a different advisor who is more accommodating of their preferences. 

Whatever you view the role of technology in your firm as, there’s no escaping it. The financial planning industry, like every other, is becoming increasingly automated and tech-oriented. You may find yourself adopting more technology than you ever thought you would, or this fundamental shift might be a dream come true. However you view the role of technology in your practice, make sure of one thing: that it benefits the client and helps secure the future they’ve been dreaming of. 

Evaluating New Technology for your Firm

Evaluating New Technology for your Firm

We don’t need to tell you that technology in financial firms and businesses is exploding. It seems like every day, companies are coming out with new technology and new ways to manage your clients’ wealth. This can be a confusing maze to navigate, what to buy, when to buy, and how to integrate that technology into your firm can make your head spin.

This article will help you answer the biggest question when it comes to fintech: Do I even need new tech in my firm?

There are a couple of questions you should ask yourself, and maybe your clients, before pursuing new technology for financial management.

Realistically, would my clients benefit from new tech?

Technology can often have a “keeping up with the Jones” effect. Business owners often times buy new technology simply because a competitor is doing it or they just think it’s what “needs” to happen. You need to be pragmatic and rational; would anyone in my firm, clients or employees, really benefit from this technology? How will the technology help improve the client experience?

Are you trying to use technology as a “magic bullet?”

Technology can’t save outdated practices, but it can make good ones better. If something is off in your firm, don’t think that upgrading the technology is going to solve all your issues. A hard look can determine if you’re simply falling behind because of a lack of technology or it can uncover fundamental problems with how you are engaging with your clients.

Make sure you have audited your own business practices or ask an outside observer to do something similar before going all-in on new tech. 

Will the tech be supported in the years to come?

This is one of the most critical questions that are usually overlooked. New technology is great, until it becomes old technology and can’t be updated and/or support for it has been terminated.  If you’re going to dive into new tech, make sure that it has longevity. Your firm and your clients won’t want to switch tech and learn new software soon after mastering the old one. 

If you decide to invest in new technology, it’s important that you ask yourself these questions before pulling the trigger. If your clients are trusting you to invest their money wisely, you should do the same with your own.

How Advisors Can Leverage Tech to Improve Client Relationships

How Advisors Can Leverage Tech to Improve Client Relationships

Whether you’re new to the world of financial advising of if you’ve been in it for a while, there’s one thing that’s going to change how you do your job: technology. Maybe you’ve already seen it happen or maybe you hit the ground running with the latest tech, but the speed at which these tools evolve means that everyone will need to stay on top of this dynamic field.

Why embracing technology is critical

You may like to keep things simple and avoid more tech or you may be an early adopter and be ready to go all in on it. But regardless of how you feel about the world of technology, one thing is for certain: you need to utilize it for your clients sake.

Even if your clients aren’t big into the world of technology, that doesn’t mean they can’t benefit from its innovations. Everything from bookkeeping to birthday reminders on your calendar can help you build a strong and trusted relationship with your clients. Likewise, solutions such as Genivity’s HALO assessment can give you a leg up on advising your clients without them having to wade into the world of tech on their own. Technological advancements can be invisible to the client, yet highly effective, saving your tech-adverse clients time and money all while delivering the results and products they are expecting.

Using technology to set yourself apart

For your technology-oriented clients, showing that you’re on the cutting edge can be a huge win for setting yourself apart from the competition. Sending electronic meeting notices, sharing files over secure web tools, and even simple things like video chats can make building trust a lot easier. The convenience that comes with using some of these solutions shows that you’re thinking about the client first.

Todd Gentry, a CFP from Synergy Wealth Solutions, makes it clear that thinking about the client first and building trust is key to growth and survival in this industry.

This is a relationship business,  FinTech should serve to enhance the existing relationship and quality of advice to create a robust client experience. It will allow you to be absolutely referable and be the highest value advisor relationship your client has. Established producers/firms should consider connecting with “early adopters”, this serves to build out your continuity plan as well as enhance the value of your business, guard against lost clients to tech savvy practitioners, and make clients into advocates for your firm and the team.

Regardless of how you utilize technology in your practice today, it’s clear that it will continue to play a more prevalent role in the future. You should be researching ways that you can make your practice more tech-friendly and look for ways to implement new solutions in the future. Your clients will be expecting it and your drive to provide them with the best solutions available will build trust and stregthen your client relationships. 

The Trouble with Social Security

The Trouble with Social Security

At some point in the last year, you’ve probably read an article on Social Security. Whether it’s a politician’s plan to “fix” it, or a wealth guru’s take on what’s going to happen to it in the coming year, the message is clear, Social Security isn’t as reliable as it once was. As a financial advisor, it’s critical that you communicate to your clients that Social Security alone won’t be enough, especially with the shift from retirement planning to longevity planning. 

Social Security woes

Social Security, while great in theory, is facing problems from all different angles. One of the most significant is the payer/recipient ratio. In 1940 it was roughly 159:1, in 2013 it was about 3:1. With population on the decline in the U.S., it’s likely only to get worse. There are other problems as well and as a financial advisor, you’re in the know about a lot of aspects of retirement, but have you communicated those to your clients?

Many retirees are planning on using Social Security as the main pillar of their retirement financing, however, it probably won’t be enough. This is especially true given the changing landscape of healthcare costs and implementations.

How to solve for your clients’ Social Security deficit

Genivity’s HALO assessment can help mitigate some of the concerns around the shortfalls of Social Security. If a client can have a better expectation of what kind of care and how much said care will cost, they can plan around those expenses while taking their fixed Social Security income into account. 

The HALO assessment gives clients advanced knowledge allowing them to potentially purchase insurance policies around things like long term care or paying for in-home care. It also allows them to make preparation to their living spaces and care network while their still mobile and relatively healthy, mitigating the need to spend their Social Security on maintenance issues.

The old adage “knowledge is power” couldn’t be more true when it comes to talking about the state of your clients’ longevity plan. Having conversations now and making preparations for all sources of income will give them the best chance of enjoying their retirement and finishing out life on their terms.