Pulling in more female clients is a waste of time for advisors and “is not a legitimate segment” of clientele to go after, says famed planner Ric Edelman. “Fifty percent of the world’s population is not a market niche.”
Rather, the bigger focus for the investment advisory industry should be on how to attract more female advisors, Edelman noted during a Thursday panel discussion on what’s top of mind for advisors at the TD Ameritrade NationalLINC conference in Orlando. “Women as advisors have been ignored,” he said, adding that 25% of advisors at Edelman Financial Services are women, “and they tend to be the best” advisors.
Darlene Murphy, president of Wellesley Investment Advisors, agreed on the panel with Edelman that women are not a market niche, adding however that she’s seen a “subtle” shift in her clientele in which “more and more clients come to us as equals” with the husband and wife sharing in the financial decision making.
While her firm is actively trying to recruit female advisors, “it’s tough,” Murphy said. “We run ads, and when we line up all the resumes we just don’t get the number of women we want to see.”
During their discussion on what’s top of mind for advisors, Randy Conner, president of Churchill Management Group, noted that given the market turmoil, a “hyper-focus” of advisors’ business should be on acquiring clients and building on those relationships — new and current ones.
Clients “want to know they are OK; there’s all this noise. Our job is the relationship.”
Edelman agreed that communication during volatile market times is key, noting that Edelman Financial has started “using technology” as a means to calm clients’ jitters. “We reach out early and often” to our clients, via webinars, video conference calls, podcasts and “lunch and learn” seminars at an Edelman office “for an open conversation on the issue of the day,” Edelman said.
As to who will be the client of the future, Edelman noted that while technology will continue to make it “easier and easier” for clients to automate advice, technology innovations will also make “things more complicated as the choices become greater.”
Despite all the growth in technology, the “delegators” that don’t want to do it themselves “will turn to trusted advisors,” Edelman said. “That’s who we serve, and that segment of the audience will grow as tech makes things more complicated.”
As to their best advice for their advisor colleagues, Murphy relayed that “a bad hire in your business costs you about two years of wasted time,” so hire “carefully.”
Said Edelman: “Pay more attention to exponential technologies” like big data and robotics rather than the latest version of financial planning software. These technologies will bring about “massive changes that will impact every aspect of our lives.”
And stop doing quarterly reviews, Edelman told advisors in the audience. “Why do you do them? You are forcing your client to take a half day out of work to be told what’s happened in the past 90 days,” which reinforces a short term, not the long-term investing goal. “We do annual meetings.” Frequency of face-to-face meetings “is a big deal — chasing them [clients] into the office is a burden on them, not you.”
Edelman Financial — which has tripled in size over the past three years and will likley ”more than triple over the next several years” — also does not engage clients in email conversation, Edelman said. “For regulatory and relationship reasons, we don’t play that game.”
— Check out Fin Tech Innovations More Trusted Than Industry as a Whole: Edelman on ThinkAdvisor.