Financial advisors were once behind the times when it came to adopting technology to drive client engagement, but times are changing, and advisors are catching on fast according to Chris Henien. There is a lot of training and a lot to teach advisors since the digitalization took place thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Chris Henien, director of Virobel Wealth Management, takes a deep dive into some of the emerging advisor trends:

Traditional client interactions are not the same

Advisors who did all their work one-on-one or face-to-face quickly realized that digital tools are now a necessity. When the pandemic took place, they did not have the right tools in place and scrambled. Clients have also become way too comfortable with digital interaction, giving comfort to advisors that the necessity of meeting in person could be substituted with online means. Advisors are now finding new and compliant ways to interact with clients in addition to centers of influence such as accountants and lawyers that are commonly known as referral networks. The common way of building primary relationships over a golf course or dinner are now happening digitally. As the number of touch points with clients increases, compliance departments will struggle to keep up with the tide and Chris Henien anticipates that Artificial Intelligence tools can assist advisory firms better.

Advisors Digital Footprint

Advisors with the best digital footprint can win the race with clients in the future. As we experienced during the pandemic, forced digitalization was a real wake up call. As advisors scrambled, it became apparent that a digital footprint including material in the form of podcasts, video, conferences became necessary. Advisors with the biggest and appealing footprints are creating content across all available media which may include streamlined client onboarding experience, automation, and self-service digital capabilities which Chris Henien plans to make easy. At the end of this exercise, advisors and clients will be equipped and ready to scale their enterprises to the next level.

Regulators catch up to new technology

As the pace of technological changes have advanced, regulators have had quite a setback. As it has not been such an urgent issue before, the financial industry has experienced quite a lag in adopting such new technologies. Chris Henien believes that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed that completely and the volume of digital communications increased exponentially. We are seeing firms create webinars, landing pages, introductory emails, and presentations for their advisors. This makes things work smoother for compliance to oversee, modify any changes needed, then send out for approval. Advisors and compliance should work in partnership so no hiccups occur. 

M&A, retirement, and professional poaching accelerating changes in the industry

Through extensive research Chris Henien identified an increasing pace of industry consolidation that is becoming more open than ever. New buy-side & sell-side M&A shops are emerging and focusing on a wide variety of advisory firms. Individual client advisors are joining platforms at interesting revenue share models. If you were moving towards retirement and or needed a succession plan in place, this would be the appropriate model to structure exits. M&A match-making platforms are popping up and Henien anticipates them to get better.

Mobile, location independent interactions become best channel providing financial advice

When advisors were required to work from home at their desktop personal computers, there has been a shift to more mobile-oriented operations. The number of communications that advisors sent out intended to be consumed on a mobile device has increased substantially. Advisors and clients as well as prospects enjoy the ease of mobile applications where they can swipe to ask and answer questions and change elements of their plans. Henien says from a fintech standpoint we are seeing the desire for a Netflix-like subscription bundled solution that enables better client relationships and digital prospecting for the better. As Advisors are continually trained and kept up to date with the new technological solutions a firm has the higher level of service a client will receive.