The Financial Services Institute kicked off its Financial Advisor Summit 2015 conference this week with a motivational talk on how advisors can up their game in the face of growing competition from robo-advisors and other threats. The event has attracted some 300 guests, most of whom are independent advisors from a variety of broker-dealers.
“Over the next few days, we will discuss the expanding challenges and opportunities of the industry,” said Rick Wagener, chair of the Financial Advisor Summit Task Force and an indie advisor affiliated with Raymond James (RJF). “This conference was put together by and for independent advisors … with the well-being of your practices in mind.”
There are, of course, many issues to consider as advisors look out at the future and a growing number of both regulatory and business issues, Wagener says. “We want you to take advantage of this program” in order to find the next steps for “your business success. We hope you enjoy the conference and leave it with lots of ideas and connections … which we expect our first speaker will give you.”
Sunday’s keynote speaker, Seth Mattison, leads Future-Sight Labs, which does workplace and leadership consulting. “I know you are the best of the best, because you are looking to get an edge and get better, even on a Sunday night!” Mattison said.
Still, there are trends in the world of work that advisor need to fully grasp in order to grow their practices and make a greater impact. The first trend he drew the audience’s attention to concerned a central shift in the workplace – from one based on a hierarchical structure to one more loosely configured and centered on a web of constantly shifting networks.
In the past, the organizational chart of a company entailed its own “collection of rules, values and expectations, and it quite literally is a view of the world,” he explained. While that structure, especially for baby boomers, “became engrained and baked in to our DNA,” it will not be the world of work to come.
“The most influential brands and individuals share information. This is what’s most powerful today vs. the emphasis on not sharing in the past,” Mattison stated. In addition, the world is moving toward a workplace that mixes those at the top, middle and bottom. “You may want to look at those you know who are under age 18,” he said. They are like a working lab of what’s next in the workplace and how it will change in terms of information flows.”
He asked the audience to consider what the workplace will look like with information and ideas “bouncing around.” This has significant implication of how advisors “show up” and serve the next generation of clients and how they attract talent to their firms.
Addressing the Robo-Threat
It’s a time of full transparency of information and disruptive technology that more and more people are using to streamline different aspects of their life. “It’s a new mindset and ethos,” Mattison said, “and it’s about making processes faster, simpler, easier and more personalized.”
Thus, we can now use Uber instead of traditional taxi cabs, and consumers can turn to robo-advisors instead of human ones.
“Everyone will not default to technology and to robo-advisors, but it’s an opportunity to stop, step back and evaluation your practices: What is the additional value [you] bring to the equation? If it is a generic email every six months, that’s not enough to compete with technology. Why should client pay you a fee? What value do you bring to the equation?”