The coronavirus pandemic abruptly forced financial services firms to swiftly go digital with essentials to conducting business far sooner than they had likely planned. Next: Look for these now-stress-tested shifts to be prominent in the “new normal,” argues influencer April Rudin, financial services marketing strategist, in an interview with ThinkAdvisor.
According to the trends forecaster, founder of The Rudin Group, 64% of high-net-worth individuals are counting on their future advisor relationship to be digital.
In the interview, Rudin, who consults to the financial services industry exclusively, discusses major positive changes she sees occurring in the advisory space as a result of the pandemic. These include how the concept of wealth has changed and FAs becoming “co-pilots” with next-gen clients.
The Rudin Group’s focus is the “intersection of wealth, next-gen and fintech,” a confluence that brings big opportunities for financial services firms, Rudin maintains.
In the interview, she advises FAs to “take stock” of their “online properties” in preparation for redoing their brand. Now is a propitious moment to undertake such overhaul, she recommends.
With the goal of gaining visibility to ultra-high net worth and high-net-worth individuals on digital platforms, Rudin’s firm, based in the New York metro area, serves global banks, wealth management firms, RIAs, hedge funds and independent advisors through broker-dealers, among other facets of the industry.
ThinkAdvisor recently interviewed Rudin, on the phone from Fort Lee, New Jersey. Among the issues she addressed were the expansion of social media to social selling and an approaching “inflection point” for retirement-age advisors: Will they go, or will they stay — and work remotely?
Here are highlights of our conversation:
THINKADVISOR: Amid the pandemic, has fintech played a larger role for financial advisors?
APRIL RUDIN: COVID-19 has been a driver toward adoption of digitalization. Everything has been accelerated. The pandemic has given firms the ability to be much more digital, to “stress-test” digitalization and deliver on some of the promises that perhaps were only on the roadmap but that advisors have been forced to adopt.
What’s one stress test?
The ability to work remotely from home. Advisors were forced to do it, and they found that they can — even to the delight of some. That gives technology much more importance. I’m certainly not saying the pandemic is a good thing; but [amidst] the loss of life, sickness and economic devastation, [increased digitalization] has been something of a silver lining.
How has the pandemic impacted next-gen clients and their financial advisors?
For the millennial generation, and even some Gen Xers, this is the first financial crisis they’ve [experienced]. The way they deal with it and come out of it will impact how they think about money, financial planning, transparency, discretionary spending, retirement and investments. How they feel about it and handle it can be virtually shaped by their advisors.
As a result of the pandemic, what might be different in the relationship between next-gens and their advisors?
It will be much more of a partnership. The role of advisor will be a co-pilot, or a partner, rather than the, sort of, hierarchy of advisor [authority] and client [follower] that exists now.
What have virtual meetings done for the advisor-client relationship?
A lot of advisors have become more accessible to their clients. So clients have had more opportunity to get closer to their advisors, and advisors have had an opportunity to get closer to their clients way beyond that once-a-year call. Market volatility has also created an opportunity for advisors to provide more holistic financial planning.
Will any of this stick, or will things go back to the way they were before the pandemic?
I think all of it will stick; it will be the new normal. Clients and advisors will become accustomed to it. And that will be a good thing.
Has the pandemic changed the concept of wealth?