As a fiduciary, nothing is more important to you than helping people with their financial lives. But does your practice need some help too? In speaking with several successful advisors and firms, I learned even the best-intentioned investment advice professionals can stumble due to costly mistakes and business oversights. Out of these conversations, we flagged five critical errors that can hound a wealth management practice, ranging from staffing issues to technology implementation. I’ve also included their tips on how fellow practitioners can best avoid these pitfalls.
I spent the last several weeks speaking with successful financial advisory firms. The question we explored together: “What are the most important things you have learned about running a wealth management business?” During the conversation, five major lessons emerged - with ‘growth’ being a key cross-cutting theme across the board. Importantly, these lessons came from listening to client needs, treating people well, and putting in energy to strategic planning. Whether you’re starting your career or building on years of experience, here are five important lessons for investment professionals.
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A new year is just around the corner, and I’m really excited to talk about our product roadmap, but first, I want to say my thoughts are with everyone who has been impacted by Covid-19. It’s my sincere wish that all of you, your family and friends stay safe and healthy. There’s nothing more important than the well-being of your loved ones. The incredible news that vaccines are becoming available now makes me even more hopeful we’ll be able to come back together in 2021. I look forward to being in an office with my colleagues again, catching a Broadway show with my family and having a nice dinner surrounded by friends.
Attending industry conferences allows advisors to network, hear from experts, and explore relevant challenges and opportunities facing today’s financial services industry. Attendees take the knowledge gained from these events and integrate it into their practice to further deliver value to clients. Many of these conferences were interrupted in 2020 by the coronavirus pandemic -- shutting down all in-person events after the March outbreak through the end of the year. Planned events were canceled or rescheduled, while most pivoted to a virtual format.
This year forced us to use existing technology in new ways. An entire subculture has grown around video calls -- which have been around for years -- as they are now essential in our lives. Whether for business calls, webinars, virtual happy hours, or talking to family, the pandemic made us realize the value of staying virtually connected.
Expectations of working with a financial advisor have changed. The digital world we live in today has played - and will continue to play - a large part in how prospects find, select, and hire financial advisors. These days, most information is consumed digitally and through multiple sources of information - sometimes by only scanning the headlines. With so many resources available, investors make better, more informed buying decisions in all aspects of their lives.
As a training specialist for AdvisorEngine’s Junxure, I witness first-hand what works and what doesn’t when it comes to running an effective client relationship management (CRM) system. One firm I recently worked with had work processes that literally were all over the place -- scribbled down on whiteboards, shelved inside filing cabinets, noted on sticky notes stuck to walls, handwritten memos, and more.
We are excited to announce new enhancements to our Junxure® product, designed significantly to reduce the time it takes to produce reports. A financial advisor’s time is best spent servicing clients and building relationships, not sitting in front of a screen, waiting for data to load. With that in mind, we’ve rebuilt our functionality to maximize performance. Now, for instance, Action reports will load and be ready to print six times faster.
Winning a new client is a great feeling for any investment advisor. What helps to maintain that positive momentum is having the digital tools for easy onboarding, engaging in effective client communication, and developing consistent servicing strategies tailored to the client’s goals.
Things are changing fast in the wealth management industry. Last week, AdvisorEngine® CEO Rich Cancro shared his perspective on this moment of “hyper change” we all are experiencing. Client and market shifts in motion are now accelerating and advisory businesses must react to the pace of this change. How the industry meets is also evolving. Social distancing demands and health concerns have pushed a number of wealth management events online. That’s why for the first time in eight years, our >drive conference will not be held in-person. Instead, it will be an immersive, virtual experience held October 22-23, 2020. One of the biggest draws to past >drive events has been the opportunity for Junxure® users to gather together - administrative assistants, advisors, CEOs, firm principals and operations leaders alike - to share ideas, knowledge and experiences. With that in mind, we have designed a virtual >drive2020 conference focused on engagement.
At Joel Bruckenstein’s T3 Advisor Conference this past February I communicated to advisors about a scenario we have been calling ‘hyper change.’ The basic premise is that a series of megatrends are spinning together to completely transform the wealth management industry over the next three, five, ten years.
As a financial advisor, you take pride in how you’ve cultivated deep relationships with your clients. But in a new reality where it is difficult to meet in person, you’re naturally concerned about how to maintain those connections. The right Client Relationship Management (CRM) technology system can not only help you stay connected to clients during this global pandemic, it can strengthen your ability to personalize your client service and help you win new business. Streamlining workflows makes it simpler to stay in touch with clients, while automating tasks frees advisors to concentrate on the conversations that clients value most. A CRM aids the advisor at every step, from discovering prospects to supporting existing clients and improving contact management. But how much does CRM technology cost? What are some factors to consider beyond the cost?
During these unpredictable times, a positive relationship between Financial Advisors and their clients is imperative. In-person meetings have been replaced by Zoom calls, networking events aren’t happening and handshakes are a thing of the past. This added layer of complexity compounded by the fact that clients expect clarity on what’s happening in the market, to help calm nerves, and to set realistic expectations for their financial future.
Despite the COVID-19 global pandemic, regulatory examinations continue as normal. There’s one caveat though: the scope of examinations have increased. Regulators are trying to understand how firms manage business and core compliance programs within this environment. Below are 3 specific ways to test your compliance program and prepare for these regulatory exams:
Good morning. I hope that you and your family are healthy. I feel very fortunate that my family and friends are doing well health wise. If your situation is anything like mine, you are balancing new demands as your personal life has merged with your professional life. For a window into my household: I’ve been locked down in my NYC loft with my family playing teacher / short order cook / Sonos DJ / Paw Patrol watcher / Ticket to Ride competitor. I have always appreciated teachers -- now my appreciation and admiration is sky high...Truly: how do they do it?
Think about it for a minute, how much does your business rely on email communication? Email has become such an important method for business communication. It’s accessible, fast, cheap and private - plus, it can be easily replicated and stored. I’ve actually had an email account since I was in the second grade. That’s the norm these days, elementary-aged kids are using email to communicate with teachers and collaborate with friends on class projects. According to statistics more than half of the global population now uses email - 3.9 billion people have active email accounts. In comparison, there are 3.5 billion social media users worldwide. Since building strong relationships is a core element of providing financial advice, a financial advisor Client Relationship Management (CRM) system should support email functionality. It’s no wonder that financial advisors are thrilled with Junxure®’s latest integration with Office 365.
Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending Joel Bruckenstein’s annual T3 Advisor Conference in San Diego. T3 offers a place where independent and hybrid financial advisors can test drive the latest and greatest in the FinTech world. One major takeaway for advisors this year was acceleration - the industry is changing, but in order for the industry to change, the technology has to change to support that.
Wealth management is an ever-changing environment. Evolving technologies are rapidly changing the ways investors access investment products and receive financial advice. This paradigm is challenging the business models of long-established advisory firms and providing opportunities for competitors. New experiences and technology are changing industries across the board.
It’s that time of year again - time to prepare for your annual Form ADV Review. Disclosures to clients and prospects are even more important this year in light of new requirements announced last summer. This is arguably the most important compliance project for the quarter.
Technology is shaking up the way industries do business. While the financial service industry has been somewhat slow to adopt new technology, it now plays a leading role in the ecosystem. There are many different tools that independent advisors can use to improve client services and maximize profitability.
As a financial advisor, it’s important to log every interaction you have with a client - whether it’s a brief email, a phone call or an entire planning meeting - all part of client relationship management (CRM) best practices. What can be hard to decide is how much information you put in each one of these notes. On the one hand, sharing an entire wall of text can be confusing when you need to go back and reference it. On the other hand, a short sentence of, “Had financial planning meeting,” is equally unhelpful.
I’m fortunate to work with highly motivated and passionate independent advisors and their teams. When I’m meeting with them, I get the opportunity to hear about the firm-level strategic goals they’re focused on. Unsurprisingly, many of these strategic goals are only possible through technology. Modern technology is creating new ways for RIAs to drive growth, achieve efficiency, ensure client-centricity, build trust and enable compliance. Here are five things to consider when adopting new technology and how it could benefit your firm:
Choosing a custodian relationship is one of, if not THE single most important decision any new registered investment advisor must make. It should not be taken lightly. There are many custodians in the marketplace - not all will be the right fit for your business. To explore the process of choosing the best custodial relationship, I had the opportunity to catch up with industry experts and thought leaders Joel Bruckenstein and Craig Iskowitz to have them weigh in on the top questions they believe breakaways or new RIAs should consider asking potential custodians.
Everything nowadays is all about the “experience.” Why should wealth management be any different? It shouldn’t be. Advisors should strive to provide clients with exceptional financial experiences. Unfortunately, we find that within the realm of the wealth management industry, the financial experience process has been slow to catch up with 21st century standards.
I’m a data quality specialist. I work with wealth management firms every day to ensure that their information is accurate and accessible on the AdvisorEngine® platform. However, it’s not all about facts and figures. As any good financial advisor knows, success in wealth management requires ‘intangibles’ such as good leadership. Below is my perspective on what good leadership means, and how to know if your leadership is translating to the rest of your team. I apply these to our data quality team, but these ideas are applicable across a wide variety of organizations and goals. I hope you find it thought-provoking.
A long time ago (in a galaxy far, far away) I was a financial advisor. I’m proud of many things that I achieved - but with the benefit of hindsight, I realize that there are some things I could have done differently. I’ll share with you now the biggest mistakes I made as a financial advisor and how to avoid them. My hope is that this will serve as valuable advice for those in the advisory role and also as a guide for those who are seeking financial advice.
This year the SEC provided a steady stream of guidance illustrating which compliance and governance programs worked and which ones fell short. To help you plan for 2020, we have distilled the highlights in this Regulatory Year in Review. As you study enforcement cases, rule proposals and risk alerts, you’ll see there are trends for RIAs to consider in the year ahead.
I feel fortunate to work with Carly de Diego. She brings positivity and intensity to her role as Chief Client Officer. Her leadership directly benefits the wealth management firms that use our technology every day. So it’s well-deserved that Carly is getting some industry attention. Just this week alone, she was interviewed by leadership publication Authority Magazine and received special recognition from a group called NYC Fintech Women.
Technology has entered every part of my life. At home, I am surrounded by it. In the kitchen cooking, throwing in a load of laundry or helping my kids with homework - everything requires something digital to function. At the office, my Macbook has replaced all my old tools - pen, paper, scanner, and fax. On the road, I’ve got something high-tech in my pocket, on my wrist, in my car - the list goes on and on. Everything has a screen and buttons to push. It’s no wonder that a new digital age has entered wealth management.
I’m a millennial. So it should come as no surprise that I like texting. But it’s not just millennials who prefer texting as their go-to form of communication. Did you know that 89% of all consumers prefer to use messaging to communicate with businesses? Texts have a 98% open rate and 90% of these are read within 3 minutes of receipt. These numbers are astonishing. It’s no wonder that financial advisors are thrilled with Junxure®’s latest integration with MyRepChat. MyRepChat reports this new integration allows advisors to communicate with clients via text while fulfilling important compliance requirements.
Over the course of my career, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to literally thousands of companies and financial advisory firms about technology - especially in my current role selling CRM software. Technology is powerful. Technology can make or break user experience. Technology can reduce costs associated with data capture and analysis. Technology can increase advisor productivity. Technology can free up time so you can focus on deepening client relationships. Who wouldn’t want that? While choosing new technology is one thing, implementing it is another. Neither should be done without careful consideration.
Saturdays are made for soccer. I’ve found myself looking forward to Saturdays all fall. It’s when I get to watch my seven year-old daughter take the pitch. It also doesn’t hurt that we have been fortunate with perfect, crisp, fall weather to go along with the play. This past weekend, I had the pleasure of meeting a grandfather on the sidelines. He was in town visiting one of the other players. For the purpose of this article, I’ll call the grandfather “Sam.” After exchanging pleasantries, Sam asked, “What do you do?” I gave him my brief headline and quickly responded, “What do you do, Sam?” It turns out Sam is a florist. I found my conversation with Sam the florist enlightening and worth reflecting on.
Do you remember the last time you read an actual newspaper? Or printed out a map to get you where you needed to go? How about shopping? Did you go to the actual store or simply visit Amazon.com? Think about the now-enormous Amazon. Jeff Bezos launched it out of his garage 24 years ago. The website officially opened for business as an online bookseller but now functions as an e-commerce giant. It’s unbelievable to look back at changes this website has undergone over the years. We can all learn an important lesson from Amazon and its website; change can be good, change can be productive and most importantly, change can help us grow.
The financial technology space is expanding. In 2018 alone, FinTech companies raised a record $39.6 billion in funding, up 120% from the previous year. Much of this funding went toward the development of new products and services. But how exactly does this FinTech product development process work? A common analogy for the product development process is operating an assembly line. Ideas go in one side and products come out the other. The shortcoming of this analogy is that it describes a very linear activity - whereas the actual product development process is fluid and iterative.
Are you maximizing the benefits of your Client Relationship Management (CRM) tools? CRM and the customer experience is arguably the most powerful tool in the advisor-client relationship. Advisors spend more minutes of the day on CRM than any other part of the value chain. There are several features every advisory firm should be maximizing for top return on investment (ROI). By utilizing the following key CRM components, you can deliver best-in-class service – most of these factors occasionally get overlooked:
These days everybody is talking about design thinking and user experience (UX) - but what does it really mean and why is it essential? More importantly, how can it be applied to wealth management and financial advice experiences? Design-driven organizations engage in a human-centered design methodology. As the name implies, human-centered design focuses on the human.
What a week. After reviewing the feedback on this year’s event, I feel confident saying that >drive2019 was our best yet. There are dozens of wealth management conferences out there, but this one ranks as my favorite industry event. Two essential elements make it stand out: The strength of the community 💪 The actionable information that attendees take back to their offices to implement 💡📝 Below is a rundown of the 2019 event. Don't miss out next year! Our >drive2020 event will take place October 7th through October 9th, 2020 at the Austin Marriott Downtown. Register TODAY!
How (and why) DHG Wealth Advisors shifted their focus from transactions to relationships. These days, wealth managers are always thinking about how to plan for and adapt to tomorrow’s realities and position for long-term growth. No matter how hard you plan and position, the work to achieve growth cannot be done without some help along the way. At the heart of most wealth management firms, an Operations Manager can be found working hard to establish efficiencies and consistency in service.
Back when I was a young investor, like most self-confident, burgeoning people, I felt I could choose my own stocks. Yes, yes, I know - you can’t expect old heads to rest on young shoulders, but nonetheless that’s my excuse. Like most stock pickers, I had a general record of mediocrity punctuated by occasional flashes of success, or more often, highly entertaining failure. My very first pick has haunted me for years. Being a beginner and a small-fry, I didn’t have a whole lot to diversify as I only had a small amount to invest. So I sank in my entire fortune of $1,000 into a UK stock that was trading on the New York exchange. Overall the stock had a solid record and great prospects. I watched it daily, awaiting imminent riches.
Every year, financial advisors have the opportunity to attend a multitude of industry conferences held across the country, and our choices seem to be growing every year. And no matter where your office is located, these conferences are an investment of time and money. If you’re sending multiple members of your staff, which I encourage, you’re looking at a potential impact on your day-to-day business. If those reasons are giving you pause to attend, you’re not alone. Among my friends and colleagues, I am always surprised by how many advisors never go to these events. The value of these cannot be overstated – the education component, combined with the incredible networking opportunities to talk to other advisors and business owners about their challenges and solutions are truly invaluable.
Growing up as a multiple sport athlete, I really never had an appreciation for the umpires and referees. That is, until I went to college, where I had the opportunity to work in the intramural department. All of a sudden, I was on the other side. I was the one calling the strikes, balls and fouls – making judgment calls. Wow! What an eye opener, I certainly gained a new level of respect for those that hold that position as a career. As I reflect back on that period of time, the stress of making the right calls and the added pressure of being a female in that role - I can’t help but think of Sarah Thomas. Sarah changed the game in the world’s most quintessential male-dominated sport – football - when she became the first female NFL official. Now she’s inspiring others to dream big and believe anything is possible.
Based in Penryn, California west of the lofty Sierra range, Karsten Dornseif makes up half of the two-man fee-only RIA shop of Bowers Wealth Management, Inc. While the firm’s office is based over the mountains and state line in Reno, Nevada, Mr. Dornseif finds himself working virtually much of the time from his California home office amidst five and a half idyllic rural acres. In working online he takes full advantage of cloud-based version of Junxure® CRM—the only version of the venerable brand he has known. “I use it for everything that isn’t a number,” he said, noting that it was an indispensable repository for all the firm’s client data.
As the seasons change and holidays come and go, it's very important that you keep in touch with your clients in different ways. Newsletters can be an effective tool for doing so – allowing you to deepen relationships with your existing client base and connect with new prospects. By using your CRM (Client Relationship Management) system effectively, you can deliver newsletters in an organized and thoughtful way.
These days, financial advisors have options - new technologies that provide competitive advantages. Tools that enable online, automated investment management services that are key to attracting the next generation of investors. Smart advisors realize this paradigm change in the wealth management industry. An industry traditionally operated through face-to-face interactions - now quickly shifting toward digital tools where real-time algorithms provide customers with financial advice and manage investment portfolios. When launching a successful digital strategy from the ground up, there are many things you must consider. By aligning your team and focusing on client experience, you can maximize your chances of success. If you are considering a digital offering strategy, here are some ideas that you can take and implement into your financial advisory practice:
For every advisor, technology plays an increasingly important role in how we run our businesses. Whether you have someone in-house or you outsource your IT support, investing in your technology tools should be a key part of your business plan. That includes choosing the right systems, implementing them efficiently, training for your team, and last but not least, regularly assessing your tools to determine if they are still serving you as your business evolves.
A recent visit to the doctor's office made me think about the importance of technology in creating great client experiences. From my appointment confirmation to meeting with several doctors, it was almost seamless. It should be no different in wealth management. Financial advisory firms need to embrace technology in order to deliver a great client experience. Here are my top five reasons why your firm should digitize:
Compliance norms change constantly. They change as business innovates and regulatory priorities and leadership shifts. Summer 2019 was rife with developments advisors should understand and then consider the 3 action steps below:
“What’s dangerous is not to evolve.” Jeff Bezos Over the past few years, my perspective on serving smaller balance relationships has changed. Whereas I once saw them as cumbersome and expensive to serve, I now view them as a high potential growth area for wealth managers. Over the last 20+ years, many advisors moved upmarket in large part by raising account minimums and pushing off smaller balance accounts. I myself subscribed to this strategy - it was a smart, disciplined way to achieve profitable growth. But the marketplace has changed. Now, by using smart segmentation and digital wealth technology, advisors can profitably cultivate smaller balance relationships..
We live in a knowledge economy. Now more than ever, it’s important to cultivate a culture of knowledge sharing at your wealth management firm.
If you’re an operations leader at a wealth management firm looking to modernize your trading and rebalancing - you’re in luck. AdvisorEngine has gone live with a new and ambitious trading integration: an end-to-end trade support cycle that leverages Smartleaf’s model-driven rebalancing capabilities with BNY Mellon’s Pershing technology - combined with AdvisorEngine know-how. AdvisorEngine integrates across multiple custodians, enabling advisors to embrace innovation without disrupting their business.
It’s no surprise that the most successful financial planners are lifelong learners. But given the rapid pace of change in the industry – and the sheer amount of content out there – keeping up can feel overwhelming at times. I’ve found plenty of suggestions out there about what to read (for example: check here, or here or here) …but I haven’t read anything written recently about how to learn – especially when you feel intimidated or behind-the-curve. Here are my suggestions on how to conquer learning anxiety.
Here’s a secret - most financial advisors do not use digital marketing effectively. They say things like:
This operations and compliance coordinator started running during her lunch breaks. 11 marathons and 75 half-marathons later, Christy Rogers has hit her stride as a leader🏃
Financial advisors face countless challenges in their daily practices – especially in this day and age. In order to implement a broader technology strategy at your firm, you must approach it from a technology as well as a business standpoint. Analyze how your business can benefit from the use of technology.
You know that you want to modernize your firm’s technology. But how much does wealth management technology cost? Knowledge is power: after reading this guide, you’ll be a smart buyer – and understand the true ‘all-in’ cost of advisor technology. 10 factors to consider beyond ‘standard pricing’ By considering the following ten factors, you’ll make your next technology purchase with your eyes wide open: