The marketers at Apple have earned another fist bump for their new iPhone 6 campaign. I love how they stay grounded in what is known (we like our phones) while also making it clear they have moved the product to the next level to something truly new. Smartphones have become incredibly personal and indispensable to us, and with the iPhone 6 ads, the product is portrayed as more responsive, insightful and intuitive, like a friend. With the new features, “The only thing that’s changed is everything!”

We can learn a lot from this campaign if we want our industry to be better.

The Power Of Transformation

Automation alone isn’t the answer. The magic lies in using technology to make your offering more human. That’s what the iPhone is doing. In our industry, people still need help with financial planning and investing, like we all need phones. But, as advisors, we’re not connecting and reaching into clients’ lives enough. The recommendations from conventional plans have some personal input, like desired age of retirement or personal risk tolerance, but the bulk of what’s delivered is based on averages or mathematical models. The human touch is what makes the client relationship feel more intimate. Unfortunately, this is inconsistently delivered. Do we understand and respond to our clients on a daily basis? That’s the Holy Grail.

Making It Real

Whatever we do, we need to back up words with actions and facts. The iPhone 6 campaign makes its point by showing you the difference between what is old and what is new. You get it immediately, and it’s real. Our industry makes big empty promises in brand campaigns. The new robo-advisors are trying to create a better mousetrap, but it’s still a mousetrap! They provide a better user experience and a lower cost, but the outcome of investing or simple planning is cookie cutter. Let’s make a fresh start.

What Would Change Everything?

Transforming what we do by making it more personal and important to people’s lives is a big challenge. We need to start with the advice and guidance process and then consider the user experience. Investing and goals-based planning serve as the basics and can be easily replicated. Think of the old formula as: A (investment management) plus B (financial planning) equals C (wealth management). Most claims of differentiation in the financial planning industry are empty words because almost everyone uses the same tools and math while trying to add more bells and whistles that aren’t all that important to people. 

It Has To Start Somewhere Different

People ask me if financial life management is a marketing label. This frustrates me because it’s actually a system, based on research and backed by unique tools and training, that completely changes the equation. Financial life management is a movement to transform our industry by simultaneously making it more human and digital. These two aspects are not mutually exclusive.