The Path Ahead for Financial Advice

Jul  31 
Author Picture 
Cheryl Nash  President, Investment Services, Fiserv 

Accelerating wealth management strategies for growth and efficiency 

In wealth management, there is an enormous opportunity for growth, including expansion into new markets and investor types. Success is simply a matter of who gets there first to fully support the changing needs of advisors and investors.

Along with many wealth management leaders, I recently participated in a Future of Advice roundtable, hosted by InvestmentNews. There was an air of energy and optimism in that room as we acknowledged what an exciting time it is for the industry, and specifically, for financial advice.

Why is now the time for growth and optimism? It's the trifecta of knowledge, empowerment and the acceleration of evolving wealth management-focused digital technology.

Knowledge and Empowerment: Financial Health and Literacy Reshape Wealth Management

Consumers, eager to understand and maximize their savings, are becoming more educated and want to take greater control of their financial health. That heightened awareness has led to important revelations, which are revolutionizing our industry.

Wealth management encompasses more than building a nest egg for retirement and it is no longer exclusively for high net-worth individuals. Financial well-being can be a reality for many people. The emergence of financial literacy is breathing fresh life into our industry while expanding the scope of wealth management.

The role of technology is to complement and add value to the advisor-investor relationship. Yet, many advisors are unaware of the tools and innovation available to them.

Cerulli survey commissioned by Fiserv found that the percentage of investors receiving comprehensive advice has increased from 33 percent in 2013 to 47 percent in 2017. The study also reinforced the idea that the most valued aspect of investor clients' wealth management experience is the personalized advice they receive from a trusted partner.

And that advice seems to make a difference. Expectations & Experiences: Borrowing and Wealth Management, the most recent consumer trends survey from Fiserv, found that among those who work with an advisor, 91 percent say they closely follow their financial plans.

Evolving Technology: Adding Value to Advisor-Investor Relationships

Transformative technology is enabling access and influencing how financial services firms expand their services and deliver advice to investors of all asset levels. Increasingly, firms and their clients view human interaction augmented by technology as a best-of-both-worlds service model. Conversations are moving away from accounts and products to development of more personalized, holistic relationships focused on managing progress against financial life goals.

The role of technology is to complement and add value to the advisor-investor relationship. Yet, our Future of Advice roundtable identified a significant challenge: Many advisors are unaware of the tools and innovation available to them. We agreed that training in the field could provide a much-needed solution.

Advisors today are looking to expand their books of business, spend more time with clients and minimize time-consuming, manual administrative work. Imagine how advisors' businesses could flourish if technology was used to improve efficiency and enable growth. To address that need, wholesalers can help advisors understand what is available and articulate the "why" of new technology options.

Transformative efforts should elevate an organization and provide offerings and services that respond to the evolving needs of the industry and the investor. Before embarking on any endeavor, though, ensure it is essential and includes the right change agents in the business.

The real value of technology is measured by its ability to provide self-serve and on-demand solutions that are integrated, easy-to-use and time-saving. Digital transformation cannot – and should not – be a burden.

Continuing the Conversation

As for what lies ahead, there's a new wealth management landscape and that offers opportunity as outdated views of the traditional investor fade away. Holistic wealth management is not a buzzword, it's an expectation. When investors can visualize their entire portfolio, they are empowered to meet their financial life goals.

Advisors who bring that value through exceptional service and an optimal digital experience are well-positioned to sustain long-term, loyal investor relationships. The wealth management community has an enormous responsibility to ensure that success.

It's important for our industry to stay informed, share best practices and embrace digital transformation to open doors for new opportunities for investors and our businesses. We must continue this important conversation.