My inaugural column will discuss these changes; future columns will discuss what these changes mean to our practices and provide insight on how to adapt to stay ahead. Topics will pertain to practice management, forward-thinking business models, building a boutique practice, planning innovations, marketing tactics for the “new” senior and more.

Change is all around. Ask yourself, will I evolve with the industry, or will I be left behind? The financial services industry is like any other – eventually, business models and marketing strategies mature and are no longer as effective as they once were. Seminar marketing is moving in this direction, as consumers have become savvy about the purpose of a free lunch or dinner meeting. In some parts of the country, the sheer saturation of seminar invitations a senior receives each week is enough to devalue the marketing approach.

Our clients’ characteristics are changing, as well. Seniors are becoming more technology savvy and demanding access to instant information. Boomers, or the “new” seniors, are rapidly approaching retirement, and they have vastly different behavioral attributes and goals than their parents. They don’t have the time (or the patience) that their parents may have had to actively attend workshops or even seek you out, for that matter. They will define their retirement years much differently than their parents and will demand professionals who understand their unique makeup and who will cater to their form of retirement lifestyle.

The business model for the independent financial planning practice will have its share of difficulties in the not-so-distant future. People are seeking a more convenient way to work with professionals that will fit nicely with their lifestyle. Whether they are home, at their condo in Florida or on a Mediterranean cruise, our clients will demand, among other things, online access to their accounts, consolidated performance reports and dialogue between their complementing service professionals (such as CPAs and lawyers). They will, for example, outsource their financial planning to professionals who have strategic relationships with other service providers.

So what’s the lesson? Change is not a bad thing. In fact, it is the difference between a deteriorating, static practice and a burgeoning practice overflowing with new clients. We must be smart enough and brave enough to recognize the coming trends and adapt our practices and business models before our competition does or such trends become extinct to the next ones.

The evolution of our industry can work to your advantage, if you are one of the first to act. The person who invented seminar marketing probably had a considerable stint of success before competition caught on.

You have two choices. Either you resist the change and perhaps become extinct yourself, or you adapt. Change is a prerequisite to future success and sustainability in this industry. If you are willing to evolve and adapt and think progressively, then you are setting the stage to achieve substantial success in this ever-changing industry.