At Blueprint, we spend a lot of time articulating the ‘why’ behind our systematic, process-driven investment approach. Our communications with advisors frequently emphasize behavioral finance because we believe that having a transparent process and educating our partners about exactly what to expect leads to better investment outcomes for their clients. Today’s note focuses on another, equally emphasized subject of our writings: advisor practice management. Please read on.
As we have written, the advisory world is undergoing major changes not the least of which are fee compression, the rise of robo, and massive industry consolidation. While we know that there are a lot of smart, hard-working advisors out there, the response to these changes are now merely prerequisites to a successful business, rather than differentiators of client service and a path to reaching elite status. In the modern world, truly elite advisors constantly focus on how to improve the efficiency and delivery of their services.
This brings us to a white paper recently published by Forbes in association with Temenos. In short, their research is remarkably lucid in its findings and prescriptive in terms of offering a road map for the evolving nature of the advisor-client relationship. Here, I will summarize some of the paper’s conclusions and supplement them with our own anecdotal findings.
The construct of the paper’s research focused on three pathways to achieve a modern wealth management practice — customer experiences enhanced by digitization, deeper insights gained through data analytics, and new markets accessed by technology. Importantly, however, the authors readily recognize that despite all this change, the advisory business remains very human at its core. In this vein, we think the authors thread the needle with their assertion that “technologies should be seen as a means to a business end, with the goal being increased client satisfaction from understanding the three pathways to success covered in this report.”
Essentially, they are saying, technology is not the solution, but rather a part of the solution. Perhaps the only missing element of the report begs this question—"Okay, I buy into the report’s findings and I’m a forward-looking advisor, but how do I begin to implement these recommendations?” To answer that inquiry, I’ll provide thoughts about how Blueprint has already incorporated each of the paper’s three pathways into our own practice.
1. CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE ENHANCED BY DIGITAL CLIENT SERVICES AND PERSONALIZATION
At Blueprint, we have prioritized our digital client services by implementing a marketing automation platform. This platform has been a game-changer for us in many ways, but as it applies to the customer experience, it has fortified our engagement with our prospective and current advisor partners via our website, blog, research, and other content offerings. We now understand intimately how individual members of our audience are engaging with us, so we can tailor our subsequent communications to be more personally relevant to our prospects and advisor clients accordingly.
2. INSIGHT GAINED THROUGH ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND ANALYTICS
We think “artificial intelligence” is a bit of an overused buzzword, but leveraging analytics is low-hanging fruit that many advisors fail to pick. As with utilizing a digital marketing platform to achieve personalization, leveraging analytics helps us to markedly increase the efficiency of our communications. Rather than relying on the phone book to make cold calls, our business development executives now spend their time communicating with advisors and institutions that have already demonstrated an interest in our work. Analytics have increased his efficiency on an exponential scale because there’s little guesswork involved; he prioritizes those folks who seem keen to connect and already have a baseline understanding of what Blueprint does and how we might fit into their story.
3. NEW MARKETS DEFINED BY THE MASS AFFLUENT AND ALTERNATIVE INVESTMENTS
As one investor quoted in the Forbes report says, “Investors seek new types of investment strategies, markets and financial instruments to diversify their portfolios from traditional assets.” This notion cuts to the heart of what really differentiates Blueprint from our contemporaries. Our investment process is designed with the explicit understanding that by preserving compounding via asset and time diversification, advisors can ward off the biases defined by behavioral finance and keep their clients on track to meet their goals. We are awash with academic and empirical evidence to suggest that the long-term success of investors hinges on having a set plan and, perhaps more importantly, sticking to it. Our strategies seek to keep investors calm, assured, and engaged by cushioning their portfolios on the downside while also participating in the upside over a full market cycle.
Ultimately, the objective of becoming a next generation wealth manager is creating a client experience that is both satisfying and successful. Specifically, clients will benefit by spending more time with their advisors due to efficiency gains via technology. In the end, these gains promote the highest mark of success for advisors– helping clients achieve their financial goals. We would be pleased to hear your thoughts in this regard.
Bonus Points/Extra Credit:
The report also has a section that looks at the blockchain, a particularly exciting delivery mechanism for products and services that promises improved security and efficiency while eliminating the rent-seeking tendencies of middlemen. According to the report, blockchain is generating significant excitement and anticipation, as 82% of executives surveyed agree that blockchain will play an important role in the wealth management space going forward. Interestingly, the report’s conclusion is that blockchain technology will play a larger role in security and compliance than in the actual facilitation of investment strategies per se. We agree, by the way.
The Forbes report is available to download in full by clicking here.