The growth of your business depends on the strength of your relationships with your clients and the trust and respect you earn as an advisor. Acting in the best interest of your client, listening to clients’ needs and assessing the most prudent strategies to meet their financial objectives is not only your obligation as a fiduciary but also is critical in building your reputation and practice.
Indeed, your role as an RIA involves considering both sides of a client’s balance sheet, assets as well as financing, with thoughtful attention to many moving parts including tax consequences, current risks and potential rewards while staying on track building and preserving wealth for your clients and their future.
Building your RIA practice today requires access to lending resources that can help clients reach their goals and set you apart in an increasingly competitive landscape. Finding sensible solutions to common problems concerning liquidity, debt consolidation, and flexible financing can fortify your position as a trusted advisor and lead to success not just for your current clients but also your practice in the form of potential new clients and referrals for a job well done.
Lending solutions can most appropriately and thoughtfully be considered when the advisor/client relationship includes a full understanding of the unique issues facing a current client or a potential client. For example, accessing competitive financing that allows a potential client to obtain loans to cover existing obligations and move assets under management to your practice can allow clients to “unstick” themselves from ineffective advisors and facilitate your practice expansion. Additionally, if an existing client anticipates a large capital expense, accessing credit for a short-term need is usually preferable to suffering potential capital gains and lost growth opportunity caused by liquidating assets. Advisors can work with clients and lenders to determine the loan type, a secured fixed-rate loan or a line of credit, to best fit the client’s needs.
If your client’s requirement for cash necessitates a frantic review of potential scenarios for gaining liquidity, it might signal you’re not up to par with the competition. A strong awareness of the best available financing alternatives and gaining quick access to it are important parts of your repertoire as an advisor, especially as securities-based loans are becoming increasingly attractive for high-net worth clients and more available in the marketplace. To fulfill a client’s long-term wealth building strategy an advisor must consider more than asset management; a wealth building strategy may require prudent debt as a tool for achieving a client’s growth goals.
These flexible and customized financing solutions are based on the value of particular holdings, and advisors can strategically select which holdings to use as collateral for a loan. The application process varies by lender, but it is often streamlined for clients and advisors with assets under custody. After underwriting is complete, the client’s portfolio remains intact while the loan or line of credit allows the client to effectively bridge gaps in cash flow, handle business and personal expenses or make large purchases, excluding securities.
The goal of an advisor is to advise well, and those who heed this mission are the ones who will earn the trust and full confidence of their clients. According to Charlotte Beyer, founder of the Institute for Private Investors, the reason clients dismiss advisors and move assets has a lot to do with the confidence factor.
In an age of robo-advice and unparalleled access to information, dissatisfied clients may break away when they feel advisors are not keeping current, are not communicating effectively or are performing poorly. Beyer notes in the Journal of Wealth Management that long-term advisors “may be liked but may not always be respected as capable — similar to the friendly family M.D. who may be viewed fondly but is not to be trusted to make a complex diagnosis or to refer to a specialist.” For independent RIAs, having access to customized lending solutions whenever needed can strengthen your value proposition and add to your credibility and expertise in the industry.
More than 35 million clients are engaged with RIAs today, and more than $70 trillion in wealth is being managed by independent RIAs and RIA firms. While the majority of your practice and clients likely fit a particular profile depending on your own experience and niche, the need to proactively work with clients cuts across all client types.
Whether your clients are professionals, entrepreneurs, executives, or those who have inherited family wealth, they will likely expect you to advise them on the full balance sheet implications of their financial moves and operate with an understanding of various financial solutions that will help them successfully achieve their goals. Whether you increase your client roster by referrals or by acquisition, the same personal touch that initially compelled clients to work with you must be sustained to keep them.
Customized lending products can help clients solve cash needs while allowing long-term investment strategies to remain in effect. Your ability to offer competitive, flexible lending solutions, to coordinate the process, and to recommend actions that are in the client’s best interests will strengthen your position as a trusted advisor and will provide value to your clients as you help them meet long-term goals.
Bryan Loew is head of Wealth Lending Sales, TD Wealth.