It's no secret that there's been a trend toward providing advice and planning. This has been a good development, reflecting not just evolutions in the regulatory world but the preferences of an increasing number of investors.
For advisers who are making this shift — or those who have focused on planning for years but are in the process of reevaluating their practice — here are some ways to jump-start your planning business.
• Listen! Don't approach planning with all clients the same way, using the same technology, the same communication plan and the same fee structure. That might be a mistake.
Many clients, for instance, will never read a detailed market data report, nor do they care about tech bells and whistles that provide granular insights into their plan. Indeed, they may just want something that will tell them whether they are on track to reach their goals, caring very little about the journey, only the destination.
You could also encounter prospects who want help with just one of your services, such as college planning. If you have the scale, it could be worth coming up with a pricing structure for a la carte offerings like that. While most advisers listen to their clients, many don't hear what they say.
• Segment all aspects of your business. Advisers have used segmentation techniques to prioritize the clients who provide the best opportunities for growth, based on assets or in some cases potential assets.
Advisers should apply this basic concept to planning as well, segmenting clients, for example, based on the various stages of their life. When filling out a profile, use different technology tools in addition to varying fee structures. Find out what your clients want and then be sure to have the tools, platforms and flexibility that can deliver it to them.
• If you don't have what you need, ask for it. If you are clamoring for a strategy or service that could help meet the needs of your clients, whether it's a piece of technology or an investment model, talk to your firm and ask them to add it.
With behavioral finance becoming more of a focal point, for instance, advisers are increasingly sensitive to the ways fear and anxiety can roil the investment process. New tech platforms are hitting the market that will alert advisers when clients log in to their accounts or make changes to their plan.
Getting frequent alerts — especially during times of hyper-volatility — would be a surefire signal it's time to pick up the phone or schedule a meeting. More and more advisers are being tasked with tempering their clients' emotions, so it's easy to see why they would want access to a platform like this.
Advisers should always be willing to take a close look at their businesses to see where they have opportunities to improve. That's true whether you're relatively new to the industry or a longtime financial services industry veteran. At the same time, when advisers try to grow and evolve, firms must be a big part of that process, always searching for ways to help them
Libet Anderson is vice president and managing director of advisory and planning at ProEquities.