Here's a warning: Your clients are going to expect a lot more out of you in the coming years than you are probably providing today. And if you don't start preparing for it, you might as well get out of the business.
I've been an adviser for almost three decades, and, over that span, I've seen firsthand how we've had to expand our service offerings.
Simply, the days of charging 100 basis points for asset allocation and an annual portfolio review are over.
Granted, you may have some loyal clients who will never fire you, but people who are shopping for an adviser right now expect a lot more than managed investments.
Just consider what some of the larger registered investment advisers (your competition) are now providing to clients: tax planning and preparation, estate planning and documentation, risk management and insurance advice, Social Security optimization, Medicare and Medicare supplement planning, 401(k) allocations, retirement lifestyle recommendations and more.
Those annual birthday calls to your clients? Nice touch. But those are not going to help you land today's discerning shoppers.
Just this past week I had a conversation with a woman who had received terrible advice from her "financial adviser." This broker, affiliated with one of the big wirehouses, had recommended she sell some mutual fund shares that she'd held for over 30 years.
The adviser's rationale was that this fund was now too risky for the client and should be moved into more secure positions.
What this woman wasn't counseled on was the $70,000 tax bill that was triggered by the sale.
When she asked why the taxes weren't taken into consideration, she was told that the broker didn't provide "tax advice." He then actually showed her a disclosure.
As I heard this sad story, it led me to question why more advisers don't offer tax advice, when I've seen studies that show tax planning could add up to 180 basis points in alpha each year.
In an era where indexes are king, providing great tax advice would seem like an easy way to add value (and stickiness) to a client relationship.
It needn't stop there.
Many of the larger RIAs are not only providing tax advice, but they'll also prepare tax returns for clients. They'll not only do the estate planning, but they'll have the documents prepared for the clients and see that they're executed.
And it's all covered in the annual AUM fee (or retainer fee).
If you're an independent financial adviser, you should start evolving into a one-stop, holistic advisory firm.
And if you aren't of a size where you can bring all these things in-house? Then you need to develop relationships with partners that allow you to offer a seamless experience to your clients.
My strong conviction is that if you don't continue to enhance the services you provide, you will lose out to those firms that offer a more client-centric experience.
[More: When will our industry grow up?]
Scott Hanson is co-founder of Allworth Financial, formerly Hanson McClain Advisors, a fee-based RIA with $4.5 billion in AUM.