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Morgan Stanley Exec: The Top 3 Attributes of a Successful Advisor

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What You Need to Know

  • The top advisors today tend to be planning-focused, according to Morgan Stanley's Vince Lumia.
  • Being part of a team is also important because the demands on advisors today have grown significantly.
  • Successful advisors are also taking advantage of the digital online tools that are available to them.

Being a part of an effective team, a focus on planning and the use of digital tools are among the top attributes of successful advisors today, according to Vince Lumia, managing director and head of field management for Morgan Stanley Wealth Management.

“First and foremost, what we’re seeing is” the most successful advisors today are “on a team,” he said Thursday during the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) Private Client Virtual Conference.

Successful practices also tend to be “planning-based and they have a very scalable and repeatable investment process,” he said, adding those advisors who are doing those things are “just flat out growing faster than others.”

On the importance of a team, he explained: “The demands are just so great on our advisors today and it’s really, really difficult to do it on your own, and it’s no question that teams are getting even larger. The days of a two-person team with an assistant or two is very much in the rearview mirror. And I think that’s a really good thing for clients.”

That is because “having scale, building the right team and infrastructure affords the team the time to serve the clients on the things that are important to them and helps them position themselves for growth in their business” at the same time, he said.

After all, “without capacity and scale, teams will spend their time doing administrative things, much of which is of much less value to the clients,” he noted.

Also, “high-performing teams are quicker to partner with other specialized advisors when opportunities require skills that are not a part of their core strengths,” he pointed out.

Race, age and gender diversity is “also something that we’re seeing to be a vital ingredient and I think everybody understands the business case for diversity now more than ever,” he said.

The shift to remote work has also made advisors more willing to partner with other advisors in other geographies and it has become easier than ever to do, he noted.

Turning to Tech Tools

Successful advisors are also the ones who are “using the digital online tools that are available today and [are] becoming a much more important part of the wealth management value proposition to clients,” Lumia said.

Those tools are helping advisors and their teams “serve their clients better than they ever have and, frankly, grow their business, and we’ve seen that in the last 14 months, with COVID, in a big way,” he noted.

“We probably saw 10 years of adoption just over the last 12 months and clients are getting more comfortable being in a virtual world and advisors have certainly taken advantage of that” as well, he told viewers.

Morgan Stanley was working on this shift to digital “far before the pandemic but … it was all accelerated” during the shift to remote work during the pandemic, he said.

Breadth Matters

How successful an advisor is also depends on the “breadth of what the team can offer to clients and it’s a big reason why clients are coming to us,” Lumia pointed out.

Clients today are looking for “advice on so many more aspects of their lives today” than they were in years past and, as the “complexity in their own lives and in their situation increases, the amount of people that they’re trusting with the most sensitive parts of their family and their lives is becoming fewer and fewer,” he explained.

Morgan Stanley advisors are “becoming those people” for clients, forging trusted relationships and providing them with valuable assistance when it comes to tax planning, trust and estate, wealth transfer and philanthropy, he added.

(Photo: Bloomberg)