In their new book, The Essential Advisor: Building Value in the Investor-Advisor Relationship, authors Bill Crager and Jay Hummel say that now more than ever, consumers need reliable, technologically sophisticated financial advice to help them achieve their dreams, and, for another basic need:
“My advisor has helped me get clear about my goals and is helping me to reach them. That’s what I think is the most important — I sleep well at night,’’ says one client.
Crager is president and co-founder, and Hummel is a managing director of Envestnet, a Chicago-based firm providing portfolio, practice management and reporting guidance for financial advisors. Envestnet has 10 other locations, including offices in India. It was founded in 1999.
In their roles as advisors to financial advisors, Crager and Hummel say that seismic industry changes, including the increasing importance of harnessing technology, compel advisors to change the way they communicate and build their “value proposition’’ — that is, the value of their services to clients.
Change for the good of both client and advisor can be achieved by providing what they call the five pillars of value — financial planning, asset allocation, investment selection, systematic rebalancing and tax management. The first three can be handled by a hybrid of human and computer; the last two produce the best results when executed by the financial advisor, Crager and Hummel say.
To bolster this argument, Crager and Hummel describe the three major financial transitions that consumers undergo in their lives: accumulation, when clients are working and accumulating assets; deaccumulation, the time when the investor spends accumulated assets, usually at retirement; and transfer, the point when an investor transfers money to loved ones, charities and other legacies.
“We believe one of the reasons the digital-only platforms have caught on with a younger generation is because they are focused on serving the consumer in the accumulation stage. As an investor moves toward the deaccumulation stage, it’s hard to see how the current digital-only platform will have the ability to adequately serve the needs of consumers in this category,’’ they write.
That is because, the authors say, financial advisors will increasingly be required to offer both monetary and emotional guidance to clients, especially in the transfer phase.
“Digital-only platforms may figure out the deaccumulation stage, but we don’t see any way for them to ever solve the legacy transfer stage of the client life cycle. This stage requires advisors to deeply understand the emotional impacts on the client,’’ they say.
The authors say research indicates that in the next 30 years, $30 trillion in assets will transfer from baby boomers to generation Xers to millennials, a generation that demands “real time’’ financial information they can access by cell phone and computer.
The necessity of a deft balancing act of human touch and digital support is backed by research from Charles Schwab & Co. Inc., and Capegemini U.S. Wealth Report, the authors write. These reports say that the digital revolution is causing major shifts in how younger clients manage their money.