It is not easy for financial advisers to provide holistic investment advice when their understanding of their clients’ financial picture incomplete. Clients often hold retirement accounts or other assets away from their advisers, a longstanding concern. These held-away assets, defined as accounts not actively managed by an adviser or custodian, including self-directed investment and retirement accounts, prevent financial advisers from providing the best, most actionable advice. A complete, real-time picture of a client’s assets is critical for advisers to successfully retain clients, increase assets under management and attract new clients.
LIMITED ACCESS TO AGGREGATED VIEW
A 2012 Fiserv survey of financial advisers found that 95 percent the respondents reported their clients’ asking for advice on held-away assets. Nearly four out of five advisers polled said they did not have access to an aggregated view of their clients’ overall financial picture. Of those advisers who did not provide advice on held-away assets, nearly half (46 percent) said they believe it takes too much time to collate and aggregate this information.
These findings offer compelling evidence of this industrywide challenge. Advisers can meet this challenge by having access to comprehensive and complete information on stocks, bonds, alternative investments, liabilities, savings and the other pieces of a complex financial picture, so they are able to make this information actionable across every asset class.
Consider these examples of how a complete view of a client’s investments gives advisers greater opportunities to build assets under management. The adviser may not manage a client’s self-directed accounts, such as an IRA, but when he or she has visibility into what the client is investing in, the adviser can provide counsel about retirement accounts to ensure a client’s asset allocation and exposure are fully consistent with retirement goals and risk tolerance.
Similarly, an adviser with a 360-degree view of his or her client’s assets can also see when, for example, a client has had a large, unusual one-time deposit, such as a bonus. This knowledge creates an occasion for the adviser to reach out to his or client and suggest a strategy to save or invest the bonus. Similarly, an adviser could see when a bank CD is approaching maturity, and proactively offer ideas on where to reallocate those savings.
A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE
Financial advisers empowered with a full-circle view of their clients’ investible assets have a number of competitive advantages over advisers who do not. They are able to do financial planning, portfolio reporting and offer advice on how to weight assets. These capabilities provide a certain amount of stickiness for clients, primarily because the adviser becomes the go-to source for all the client’s financial planning and reporting needs.
The data aggregation technology that is frequently used by advisers to provide this comprehensive analysis allows them to implement an opportunity alerts strategy. These capabilities go beyond just aggregating data. Intelligent alerts help advisers know when to take action and better manage their clients’ money
Financial advisers are now recognizing the power a full-circle view of assets can deliver for those with significant investible assets or complex financial situations. The flexibility to transition seamlessly from single- to multisleeve products is now possible. One firm launched a pilot last year with data aggregation technology to increase their advisers’ visibility into clients’ assets, with the goal of increasing its AUM by $10,000 per client within six months. They exceeded that goal by seven times, and achieved a $75,000 increase in AUM per client.
There is strong demand in the wealth management industry for access to held-away assets. In order to facilitate this demand, investment decision and execution tools are being integrated in real-time, on-demand services. Advisers with a full-circle view of their clients’ assets can find new sources of revenue, provide new services for clients and increase client retention by providing a more complete long-term portfolio solution.
Rhonda Bassett-Spiers and Nilesh Dusane work in the CashEdge division of Fiserv.