The changing face of business often means we have to learn new skills or branch into new opportunities that may be uncomfortable. For many advisory firms, the looming challenge on the horizon is modernizing their offices.
If bringing your practice into the 21st century seems like a daunting task, try hiring recent graduates with financial planning degrees as technology evangelists to help with the transition.
(Related: Next-Gen Advisors Have a Boomer Problem)
Challenge them to utilize technology in a way that meaningfully differentiates your value proposition, integrates with other technologies for improved efficiency, and provides your firm the platform of the future to scale with your continued success.
Here are a few best practices that can guide how you work with younger advisors to help address next-gen issues.
Updating Your Communication Habits
The first step in learning from your next-gen advisors is to observe their preferred communication habits. It’s a good bet that the next-gen investors you want to attract will be using the same methods as your new advisors.
Identify first and foremost how communication habits are changing from what you’ve done in the past. Messaging opportunities have increased as new technology has entered the mainstream. The way your team connects with clients using that technology to communicate in a modern way is essential to continued growth.
New communication mediums should not and cannot be ignored by advisors. Text messaging, connecting on social media through sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and more to post items with significance, and using video statements are all appropriate avenues to reach clients. Global online video consumption continues to rise, and many next-gen clients want the option to get their market update in a 60-second video rather than another five-page newsletter.
As you’re looking at ways to update how you communicate, you also have to consider a possibly uncomfortable scenario: Are any of your communication methods dated and a waste of your client’s time? For example:
Phone calls. Would a Skype chat be better? As you look at ways to expand how you connect with clients, you can handle many face-to-face meetings virtually instead of asking clients to come to your office.
Emails. Emails create extra work and take up more of your time through their back-and-forth nature. An interactive client portal can provide the on-demand updates to questions that clients want to ask, lessening the time you spend answering routine questions.
Traditional newsletters. Your clients may prefer an email instead of a paper packet in the mail. Your portfolio accounting system can be a great place to start with sending emails to clients with a personalized link to view your newsletter or video update.
Scheduling a meeting. Set up a calendar link on your website so your clients can see open times on your schedule and set up a meeting with a click instead of you both trying to find a time that works. It’s also possible to allow clients to set up meetings by automated text notifications. When you work with millennial clients who are used to, and expect, instant gratification, this type of technology can be a game-changer.
Implement website chat. People love using online chat for help. At Orion, we recently implemented chat as a new service option and took over 5,000 chats in June from our advisors. You only need to look at the success of Facebook’s chat bots for businesses to be convinced of how well received online chat can be in the eyes of many consumers.
New technologies can upgrade the way you communicate with your clients and help you get time back from time-consuming emails if you know the right way to implement them.
Think Beyond Your Four Walls
Soliciting feedback and listening to new ideas is a critical step in incorporating your younger advisors into your firm. It can be hard to get away from the way it’s always been done, but it is necessary to evolve your firm.
Ask your younger staff members to think of “out of the box” ideas on how to better engage the next generation client, and then put those ideas into action. For example, is your firm hosting the right social functions for the next-gen investor? A sit-down dinner where you present your services may not be ideal, but a shorter cocktail hour where you personally connect with attendees may be a good fit. Testing different options is key.
Many advisory firms engage in activities that include members of the local community, and your next-gen advisors can help be part of this involvement. Ask your new advisors to represent your firm at your local Young Professionals Organization meetings, where they will connect with other professionals throughout your city and keep your firm top of mind as these individuals need the guidance your firm can offer.
Building a Modern Team
My last piece of advice is to consider directly involving your diverse team to serve your clients. Often when clients see someone like themselves on the team, it will put them at ease and help them feel better understood.
Our country is growing increasingly diverse, and the wealth management teams we see should reflect these trends.
Change is the only constant, and the advisory industry is no different. To keep up with emerging trends, we need to listen to the needs of the next generation of investors, and that can begin with the next-gen advisors within your firm.
--- Read These Millennial Advisors Are Killing It With Younger Clients on ThinkAdvisor.