Successful advisors put a high priority on nurturing client relationships and building their trust, which is why they usually prefer to control all aspects of how to deliver a quality client experience. In fact, research has shown that when advisors put more emphasis on—and take more ownership of—the client experience, they tend to grow faster, have better retention rates, and experience higher margins.1
With this goal in mind, many advisors have been moving beyond commoditized investment management and started providing holistic financial advice to clients, including how to navigate life choices and offering life-coaching services that are proving to be essential in strengthening client relationships while driving competitive differentiation and market share. Whatever the spectrum of services they choose to provide, outperforming advisors seem to prefer directing the advisory relationship and retaining control of:
- Investment solution design and implementation
- Oversight and monitoring of client and investment activity
- Development of client relationships and communication
- Fee and pricing structures
In other words, being confined to a strict business model with a limited number of products or services isn’t the most appealing option for many top-performing advisors. As such, when your firm chooses to partner with a managed accounts platform provider, you want to know that you’re enabling your advisors to fully own and control their client relationships, not just serve as a sub-advisor to a mega-company overseer. And you probably also want to know that there are ways for your firm to balance this advisor autonomy and control of the client experience with managing your enterprise risk.
How Important is the Client Experience?
As investors seek out advisors who will help them navigate the full spectrum of their financial lives and give them confidence in their decisions, the level to which your firm can help its advisors deliver a compelling client experience can help them prove their value as an advisor and ultimately differentiate your firm from the competition.
That’s why it helps to view your firm from the client’s perspective and identify where you might need to make changes in your operating model to better serve them. Ask yourself: What do end investors really want out of a wealth management relationship? Technology enhancements have certainly come to the forefront, accelerated even more so by the COVID disruption. And firms that are outperforming across the board on every digital touchpoint are more likely to adapt and grow.2 Is your firm working with a technology platform that enables you to pivot and respond quickly, to adjust and respond to evolving client expectations in a timely way, or are you beholden to their roadmap and development schedule? Do you own the client relationship, or do they?
Use of such tools will continue even as post-COVID concerns about in-person interactions recede, because digital channels tend to be more cost-effective and secure and can provide a better client experience. In fact, top performing firms' operational efficiency may result at least in part from their embrace of technology.3
Virtual wealth management options like these that are available through today’s outsourced service providers can empower your firm’s advisors to take more ownership of the values-based planning conversations they have with their clients. Advisors can then become more adept with tools and resources that help them explore their clients’ values in depth, offer immediate response time, and vastly improve the client experience.
More Control, More Potential for Growth
Of course, the ultimate goal is to grow the quantity and size of accounts managed. But your firm must have full control of the client experience and allow your advisors to take full ownership of it. Times of crisis, while never hoped for, can actually become a showcase for a well-organized investment approach as uncertainty and urgency elevates an advisor’s role when concerned investors reach out for guidance and support. With your own thoughtfully designed best practices in place, you can help your advisors keep their clients’ portfolios aligned with their financial goals across market cycles and possibly exceed their expectations while maintaining complete control of your firm’s brand and client experience.
There are portfolio and practice management platform providers that, in some cases, can provide automation technologies and pooled resource models to help you integrate services more seamlessly and offer increased value without having to raise costs. But you want to make sure that platform partner has the flexibility to allow you to outsource only the level of services that suit your business and comfort level. An ideal platform partner will enable you to fully own and control the client relationship – from client agreement, to investment and solution selection and design, to owning the digital interactions. You want to fully control the factors that can have an impact on your firm’s reputation and profitability, while offering clients the transparency and variety they demand, in a way that works for your unique business and your advisors’ unique client relationships.
1 Charles Schwab. 2020 RIA Benchmarking Study.
By Vestmark Inc., Thought Leadership