Bridge the Advice Gap by Embracing Opportunities in Financial Advisory

In the dynamic realm of financial advisory, the voice of experience is vital in understanding the present landscape. We recently spoke with intelliflo Vice President of Customer Management Lisa Jacobs on the challenges, opportunities, and trends in the advisory space.

Jacobs brings her 15+ years of experience to our conversation that sheds light on how firms can overcome labor shortages, resource constraints, constantly changing technology, and volatile regulations in the financial advice space. She also addresses how advisors can balance and manage the ongoing high-tech vs. high-touch approach.

What are some of the top challenges and opportunities currently facing the financial advisory space?

Lisa Jacobs: We recently surveyed over 400 financial advisors and found that 80% of them believe more people are seeking advice and can’t find or access that help. This is both an enormous challenge and opportunity. Even though more people are seeking professional guidance, advisors across the board are stretched thin, making it nearly impossible to take on new clients without additional support. This prohibits advisors from growing their revenue and supporting more people, leaving many without the help they need. intelliflo was formed to bridge the advice gap; we’re committed to providing the tools and solutions to help advisors widen access to financial advice.

How can technology be leveraged to overcome these challenges and support financial advisors?

Jacobs: Modern technology has the power to help advisors address these resource restraints. In just about every industry, technology yields efficiencies, but the best tech also increases your customer’s satisfaction, too. In our industry, this is becoming known as a hybrid advice strategy – a flexible model in which clients in earlier stages of the financial advice journey are primarily served via digital channels and tools, and technology adds more to the customer experience for top clients with better outcomes.

To effectively embrace more digital tools, advisors are increasingly moving away from stand-along software tools that can’t integrate with other parts of their tech stack to avoid having to learn and log on to multiple systems. Many are seeking an all-in-one advisor experience to increase efficiencies and, in turn, provide a more unified client experience. If approached the right way, technology has the power to enable advisors to accomplish more with existing resources while simultaneously strengthening client relationships.

What advice do you have for financial advisors that are evaluating the many different technology providers out there?

Jacobs: Technology can only be effective if it is easy to use and manage. Otherwise, it might act as more of a hindrance than a benefit. That same survey of advisors underpinned this idea, revealing that the top three biggest barriers to adopting new technology for advisors are integration challenges (57%), time to install (41%), and employee time and resources to manage the technology (38%).

When vetting the many providers and solutions available in the market, advisors should consider these common areas of friction, prioritizing technology that is open and easily integrated, is flexible (which often means cloud-based), and has proven, responsive service and support teams.

Changing regulation seems to be a pressing topic this year for the fintech industry at large. What is the best way for wealth management companies to stay ahead?

A strong way to stay on top of changing regulations and compliance mandates is to collaborate with resources such as peer groups, associations, and technology partners to discuss these issues and what needs to be altered in response. We also increasingly see firms rely on partnership models with third party vendors, looking to outsource key functions and support such as compliance. However, advisors must be sure their partners are thoroughly vetted and monitored on an ongoing basis; not all partners are created equal.

What are the top trends in the advisory space to watch for the second half of the year?

Jacobs: In addition to the continued rise of the hybrid advice model, the evolving role of the advisor is an important trend to watch. A wider skill set is increasingly expected from advisors, including the ability to provide comprehensive guidance around critical life events and situations that fall outside of the traditional financial advisory relationship. For instance, clients are more frequently asking which insurance plans and options are best for their unique scenarios. And as their parents age, Millennials are seeking guidance from advisors on long-term care and arrangement options. These conversations can be emotionally charged, and empathy will become a key trait for the modern advisor. This is another reason why advisors must determine how to strategically leverage technology to make time for higher-value conversations and plans.

Photo by Amy Hirschi on Unsplash

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