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If we could start again…

If the financial advice industry had spent its time looking at where the ball would go, not where it was, we would have realized below-the-line work (investments) add no value to clients.

The value of great advice has nothing to do with beating an Index or picking the next big stock. It’s an impossibility that creates a transactional relationship with clients that is based on cost. But cost does not equal value, and trying to compete on price is never a competition you want to be in.

Where the real game is being played is around what clients really buy you for - the human connection. The relationships you have formed give your clients the confidence that you can help them lead better lives. The way you understand their different needs and why certain trade-offs are being made.

At the end of the day, we manage lives not money. We want to help people live rich, not die rich. We want to help our clients uncover what’s really important to them, then chart a course to meet life’s ambitions. In a world full of financial products, this customer-centricity is a significant advantage.

Clients will value reaching their life goals over beating some index that you have no control over. As such, it will be the financial advice practices that put the client, not the product, at the center of the advice process that will win. They will elevate the importance of financial advice beyond beating an index by serving clients the strategies and trade-offs required to live their best lives.

Seven steps to success

For those financial advisers looking to get ahead of the industry and transform their practice to deliver value beyond the numbers, here are seven critical steps to consider:

  1. Fire or hire yourself as CEO It’s time financial practices corporatized. For too long, financial planners who founded a practice have been trying to run the business and service clients. This practice is something you wouldn’t see anywhere else. It’s not like you see the CEO of McDonald’s serving burgers in the local franchise. So, stop. Founders must either hire themselves as CEOs and focus on running the business or hire one. Replacing yourself is not a threat. It’s a critical success factor and will only go on to increase the value of the practice.

  2. Outsource everything not client-facing The new world of advice places the client-adviser relationship at the heart of the service offering. It is no longer about whether you can pick the best stocks - something that no one can do better than machines or even an index. So, stop doing it. Outsource it. In fact, outsource everything behind the scenes, in the back office and below the line. Then, use technology to augment your team. This is where AdviceTech can help. Providing guidance, efficiency benefits and scale. Combined with outsourcing the $30 per hour stuff and a pod should serve up to 300 clients.

  3. Consistency is King When it comes to the client experience, practices should have a consistent, repeatable, and memorable experience that can be delivered by any Adviser to any client. The advice experience shouldn’t rely on anyone’s particular skill, and all clients should be treated equally brilliantly. Throw out the service packages and just love all clients equally. This means creating a structured, easy-to-follow process that really digs into the personal values of the client. These values will be the guiding principles for advice strategies. With activities, goals, and outcomes tracked and measured to demonstrate the value of advice.

  4. Engaging the Non-Financial Spouse for Organic Growth Advisers talk about lots of new clients. But when this is put into perspective, it often only relates to 5-10% growth a year, which is likely sending them backwards as the cost to serve clients increases. By creating a way to better engage the non-financial spouse, practices can receive a 4x referral multiplier. The non-financial client isn’t concerned about beating an index. But they do care about that holiday home or sending the kids to a good school. Suppose you can support them in achieving their goals and aligning their finances to their values. In that case, you will create an advocate that will likely share that experience with their friends. But don’t rely on word of mouth alone. Ensure that you have a defined brand and customer segment to really capitalize on the organic growth opportunities a life-centered advice approach can bring.

  5. Consistent Investment Philosophy and Process This does not mean being consistent by offering everyone the same investment product. Instead, it is about creating a consistent process to understand what your clients value when it comes to investments. It is about educating and informing them on the different approaches to investing and enabling them to make informed decisions. By taking an informed consent approach to investment preferences, practices can better align their investments to their client’s values. Ensuring their investments are client-centric, not product-centric, and, most importantly, compliant.

  6. Acquirer and Integrator Acquisitions will remain a strong growth strategy for practices as the market continues to consolidate. However, integration is always a challenge. Processes, philosophies and client expectations can differ significantly. It is imperative that when going down the path of inorganic growth, you have the processes and guidance required to bring everyone up to speed quickly. Ensuring the delivery of advice is consistent.

  7. Equitised Nextgen Leadership It’s no secret, Australia’s next generation of leaders want to work for purpose-driven companies. Companies have values that align with their own. In taking a life-centered approach to advice, practices can genuinely deliver a fun, meaningful and memorable experience that Advisers will find enjoyable to deliver. This will be highly appealing to the next generation of talent, giving you the advantage when future-proofing your business.

There has never been a better time to enhance the client experience. There is an inevitability that technology will take over the logic-based functions of advice. The new battleground will center around the client, where heart and empathy will be the weapons of choice. The practices that mobilize around the client will be the ones that will survive and succeed well into the future. Delivering on the promise of advice to truly help clients lead extraordinary lives.

Lumiant has been built with this future in mind. Delivering a memorable, measurable, enjoyable, and compliant client experience. One that supports advisers in determining what clients genuinely value to drive the strategies and plans that help them live their best life.

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