For the past 50 years, advisors in our industry have interacted with clients in basically the same way. We have held all the knowledge, access to the answers and told clients what they needed to do. Like physicians and lawyers, clients have come to us at our offices at a time when we could accommodate them. We brought our yellow pad and pen and took hidden notes, which were then whisked away so we could build presentations with all the solutions to the client’s financial concerns. We told them what to do, and, though they seldom understood all of it, they trusted us to have the answers and take care of them. The future will be very different in three distinct ways:
So how does this all happen? By 2020, the modern firm will be native to clients’ smartphones, where they will be available on demand for questions and responses about clients’ entire financial lives. Information will be provided in real time through the client’s dedicated mobile portal. Plans will be dynamic and fully accessible to clients, with intuitive tools and systems that they can use with us or by themselves. We will also be serving many hundreds of clients per advisor for lower fees. Most of our client meetings will be through video conferences, and most of our answers will be delivered with video response.
Much of what we’ve done in the past will change; however, we will still earn our fees by providing our clients with perspective, empathy and discipline that machines alone can’t deliver. But we will need deeply ingrained technology to do it well, and the willingness to embrace change, which will determine who among us makes it in this bold new future.