How Efficiency and Scale Drive the Advisor of the Future

By Dennis Godin, Vice President of Relationship Management, Vestmark

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Advisors find themselves sandwiched between competing demands from investors, their own need for growth and profitability, and the rules and expectations of their home offices. They are making their needs heard throughout the industry and embracing digitization more than ever to strike this balance.

In our recent white paper on what we believe the wealth management firm of the future will look like, we identified several trends and opportunities specific to advisors that will influence that evolution, including:

  • A need for efficiency to increase time per client, or to manage more clients in the same amount of time, or some combination of both.
  • Flexibility to offer investors what they want, including portfolios designed to reflect personal values by investing in or avoiding specific assets, as well as effective management of after-tax returns.
  • Ability to offer discretionary portfolios including client personalization in an efficient, scalable way.

Case Study: Threading the independence/risk management needle

For one Vestmark customer, a large national broker-dealer, its Rep as PM program has proven the value of applying automation and leveraging home office-driven guardrails. Risk management and reputation management is a critical consideration for a major national brand like this customer’s, but the trick is to balance that alongside allowing advisors to offer personalized and highly differentiated advice and relationships to their clients. And all of this had to be delivered in a way to help increase advisors’ efficiency and scale to grow their businesses.

The VestmarkONE® platform powers this firm’s Rep as PM program – and facilitates this balancing act. In this customer’s case, the goal was to enable advisors to build and manage their own models, offering a high degree of flexibility and access to a wide range of securities and investment solutions, including options strategies. At the same time, the home office needed a way to apply boundaries and one size did not fit all. Implementing VestmarkONE has allowed the firm to set different guardrails and oversight rules for different groups of advisors. At the same time, managing and rebalancing their accounts on the platform has created significant time savings and given advisors scalability so they can grow.

Two ways to think about scale

I like to talk about wealth management platform scale in two ways. One is the technical measure of throughput, the millions of transactions the system can process in a particular day. But just as important is how the system enables an advisor to scale up workflow, making it seamless to manage large numbers of accounts in a short period of time, essentially enabling advisors to scale up themselves – allowing them to spend more time with clients, grow their business, or both.

This customer has made the Rep as PM program, which is almost entirely model-based, available to thousands of its advisors. These advisors are managing nearly 30,000 unique models across 375,000 accounts, totaling nearly $100 billion in assets under management. This program enables advisors to customize portfolio solutions for their clients – including tax management, social screens, security and sector restrictions, concentrated positions, and more – in an entirely efficient and scalable way.

Both types of scale were critical in this case. Given the size and number of accounts in the program, reliably scalable performance on the transaction side even when large numbers of advisors are putting through transactions was table-stakes. Particularly in times of market volatility, the platform needed to scale. Because the firm also wanted to help its advisors deliver personalized portfolio management services effectively to all their clients – which is the entire point of Rep as PM, after all – it was also looking for workflow optimization and increased efficiencies.

Connecting the dots between time and money for advisors

VestmarkONE has delivered on the efficiency and time-savings in a significant way. As one advisor said:

"[W]e completed our first rebalance of 2,400-plus accounts. This is a process that would previously have taken a full-time person a minimum of three days to complete; now I have the ability to rebalance my accounts in a matter of minutes."

Making the VestmarkONE platform available to their advisors, this firm was able to hand them back time that was measured in hours per day and days per week. Those hours are now free for the advisors to spend with their clients, offer additional services, grow their businesses, etc.

And true to the adage, time and money are closely related. Given ever increasing competition and growing client expectations, advisors need to demonstrate the value they add beyond executing trades. They need time to do that, and time to build the kind of personal relationships that position them to offer the best possible personalized results for their clients.

Enabling more and better connections to prospects and clients

Advisors are the “essential workers” of the wealth management industry. They are the translation layer that turns the goals, dreams, and values of people into plans and actions that move money where it has the most opportunity to do the most good. By designing programs and solutions that serve financial advisors and help them succeed, wealth management firms are doing good for investors – and positioning themselves well for growth.

By Dennis Godin, Vice President of Relationship Management, Vestmark