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5 ways to foster a culture of innovation within your financial advisory firm
Jason Kissinger

By: Jason Kissinger on March 5th, 2020

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5 ways to foster a culture of innovation within your financial advisory firm

Digital Advice  |  AdvisorEngine  |  Leadership in Wealth Management  |  Wealth Management Technology  |  T32020

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.

It made me stop and think for a moment about the industry as a whole. While some financial advisors might be ready to embrace this acceleration, there might be others who hesitate. 

It could be that they themselves aren’t ready, or that they have a team that’s not ready. Whatever the case, change is hard. 

As a leader, we sometimes forget that we have an incredible opportunity to gather ideas, enthusiasm and the commitment of our people to create something useful and unique to our businesses - to embrace change while innovating - to move forward.

Here are five things to consider to encourage and cultivate innovation within your financial advisory firm:

1) Assess your necessity 

There seemed to be two originators of innovation. Curiosity – people who are intellectually curious, have out-of-the-box ideas and the initiative to pursue them, and necessity. Those in the latter category are particularly humble and didn’t even consider themselves innovators. 

They simply recognized and responded to a necessity they saw for their business, their peers and for the industry – or felt backed into a corner to survive – and ACTED. Necessity is a great instigator of innovation. Ask yourself, “What does your business need?”

2) Execute 

I believe that everybody is capable of innovating. Everybody has ideas to share and many of them can lead to something useful or even ground-breaking. 

The difference between someone who is recognized for innovation and someone who is not many times is execution. To make a difference, you have to be willing to take a risk, try new things and step out of that comfort zone. Don’t let a fear of failing stop you from taking a swing at the ball.

Part of innovation is a focus on the future. Are you considering the future in your business models? Are you prepared to serve the next generation of investors? The children of your existing clients? 

Through execution, it’s important to discover new points of view. Expanding your client service criteria to learn more about the next generation; pushing your firm to serve more clients at scale. 

Consider investing in technology that can help you modernize the way you deliver advice. An innovative digital wealth platform can enable you to focus on the future.  


3) Be open to new possibilities

How you run your business might work for you today, but things move quickly with technology and trends. It’s healthy to not easily be satisfied and to empower your people to always look for ways to improve. 

Praise success but encourage for a little bit better beyond the short-term. Be open to new ideas.  

Empower younger, newer employees to provide input during your technology review process. Hire people from outside the financial services industry to contribute new perspectives. Engage with your client groups to challenge your thinking and broaden your capability.

In the end the risk of avoiding innovation, and being closed to new and interesting things, will only lead to falling behind, which can impact your growth and make it even harder to catch up. Try new things and learn.


4) Remember the details

Innovation isn’t just about broad action items. The details are just as important. Especially the important details of every one of your clients' lives and financial picture. Remembering these details will fortify your client relationships - building strong foundations. 

Capture 'micro-preferences' of clients within your Client Relationship Manager (CRM), to enable innovation in the area of mass personalization-at-scale. Technology is rapidly advancing and improving, the more specific your CRM data is, the better. A detailed CRM allows you to communicate in hyper-specific ways - delivering the right information at the right time. 

Fostering an environment with clean data is imperative. It’s hard to innovate if your 'data assumption set' is flawed. Make it a priority to establish a clean data foundation. 

Along the same lines of clean data, it’s just as important to maintain a clean desk. It’s hard to think clearly with a messy desk. Your work environment can have a big impact on your productivity and creativity - don’t let the stress of a messy desk and office get in the way of innovation. 

5) Get creative with your culture

Creating, cultivating and promoting a welcoming and positive culture in your office is one of the key ways to attract - and keep - the best and brightest in the industry. 

Make sure to get out of the office regularly with your team. Host team-building offsite meetings or even informal gatherings. The camaraderie can spur creativity. Creativity leads to innovation. 

AdvisorEngine® played a large role at T3 this year and I was proud to represent our team. The only constant in our industry is change, and those that succeed prepare for, and even welcome change.

Powerful planning and personal financial management tools made for advisors are becoming so easy to use. Don’t fear this acceleration, innovate instead - the power of technology will enhance the human connection. 

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This blog is sponsored by AdvisorEngine® Inc. (“AdvisorEngine”) and Junxure®, an affiliate of AdvisorEngine. The information, data and opinions in this commentary are as of the publication date, unless otherwise noted, and subject to change. This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered a recommendation to use AdvisorEngine or deemed to be a specific offer to sell or provide, or a specific invitation to apply for, any financial product, instrument or service that may be mentioned. AdvisorEngine makes no representations as to the accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made and will not be liable for any errors, omissions or representations. As a technology company, AdvisorEngine provides access to award-winning tools and will be compensated for providing such access. AdvisorEngine does not provide broker-dealer, custodian, investment advice or related investment services.

About Jason Kissinger

Jason has been a mainstay in the financial services industry for over 25 years. With the advance of digital capabilities, his focus has narrowed to financial technology. Jason serves the AdvisorEngine team as Product Manager – working diligently to enhance existing products while developing new ideas.