You might think you have a territory or a region or a town but you don’t.
One of the consequences of 2020 that is not yet fully realized within the financial advisory profession is the fact that now 100% of current and potential clients of wealth management firms have become comfortable doing business online and on the phone. Proximity and regional affinity are no longer a significant consideration for how wealthy people make financial advisory decisions. This was the last barrier left for many old school brokerage and advisory practices. The barrier is down. New school advisors are walking over it like it’s not even there.
Ask yourself – after a year of doing business and living life digitally, do you want the nearest or do you want the best when it comes to your money and your future? Many more people will be choosing the best rather than the nearest from now on. Nearness is not going to be a thing in our industry for much longer.
My generation of advisors can helicopter down into the wealthiest, most exclusive neighborhoods and zip codes in America and remove the portfolios of virtually any high net worth family if they’re not getting the service or attention they’d like to. We do this every day. We’re crashing down from the ceiling – belly-first like Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible – wherever we’re needed. Coming in hot. Talking taxes, insurance, financial planning, investing, charitable giving, corporate retirement plans, the whole thing.
Boomers and Xers are seeing doctors on the internet, buying groceries on the internet, celebrating family milestones and holidays on the internet, attending church and synagogue on the internet, working with their accountants to file taxes on the internet and doing pretty much everything else in a virtual, online format. They’re not likely to be hung up on having their first meeting with an advisor take place in that advisor’s local office. They’re no longer limited by the whole concept of in-person. The in-person part can wait. The relationship can begin and flourish on the phone, on Zoom, on FaceTime, over text, etc. We’ll see you soon – in the meantime, let’s set you up for the rest of your life starting right now.
It’s like a massive earthquake occurring beneath our feet but we’re so focused on the pandemic that triggered it, we haven’t even taken note of the tremors. The accelerated adoption of web meetings and Docusigning and the like have brought about a new competitive dynamic for the wealth management industry that is irreversible. Firms that have established a digital presence and an audience across the country now have a cohort of potential clients that has grown by ten times or more in just a matter of six months – the adoption of web-based financial advisory services that would have otherwise taken decades has been brought about in the blink of an eye.
Speaking on behalf of my firm and the few dozen firms that are like my firm, I would just point out that we don’t respect geographic boundaries. We don’t respect borders. If a family needs our help and expertise, we’re coming into your geography to help them. If a talented financial advisor wants to join the team, we’re coming into your geography to hire them. I don’t need to lease a floor of office space downtown or set up shop in the strip mall next to PetSmart. I don’t need to join the local country club to go golfing and backslapping. We just drop in when and where we’re needed. We will go anywhere for our fans and readers. It’s always been that way. This was the blueprint back to 2013 for us. What’s changed now is the willingness of all of the generations of investors to embrace this way of working with an advisor. Everyone’s in play now. They’ve been forced to adapt to a digital world and that adaptation has been successful.
Forward-thinking advisors have been preparing for this for a long time without having even realized it in many cases. User interfaces, portals, gateways, video conferencing, content, cybersecurity – these are investments we’d been making for years. They’re not a luxury or an add-on, they’re an essential. Table stakes. Which firms have done the best job at weaving all these elements into the client experience and the employee modality? We’ll find out in the coming months and years. It will be apparent.
On the other side of the pandemic, we find ourselves in a whole new game. It’s national. It’s in the cloud. It’s on your screen.
There are no more boundaries. There are no more borders. There are no more barriers.
Listen to Doug Boneparth and I discuss this concept on the latest episode of my podcast, The Compound Show: