No matter their views on masks, shutdowns and social distancing, financial advisors will likely emerge from this year’s coronavirus outbreak into a changed environment.

Two advisor-facing fintech firms are urging advisors to get ahead of those changes by pushing both technological and behavioral innovations within their businesses.

Oaks, Pa.-based SEI has tried to lead by example, said John Anderson, managing director of practice management solutions, by embracing digital engagement with both its current advisors and those it is trying to recruit. Advisors, by and large, have followed suit.

“Early on during the quarantines, the natural inclination among advisors was to circle the wagons and protect what they’ve got,” said Anderson. “They were reaching out to clients and peers, and from that outreach we heard phenomenal stories of random acts of kindness and people empathizing with their clients.”

Anderson said he's starting to see advisors come to the realization that many of the changes they made to address the impacts of the pandemic will be very long lasting, if not permanent.

That requires a different and, perhaps, a higher level of empathy than what was called for at the beginning of the outbreak, he noted. 

“We have to pay attention a bit more to the environment around us, we have to put ourselves in the shoes of the client or prospects across the Zoom call from us, and understand that things done virtually need to be shorter and more engaging,” Anderson said. “Because we have more time on our hands with no commutes, we have the ability to set shorter, more meaningful meetings instead of long meetings dumping data on our clients."

SEI has embraced the shorter meeting concept through its advisor education and recruitment efforts. Whereas previously the firm would hold day-long or half-day meetings and workshops and recruiting events in event spaces within geographic financial centers, today it is running “advisor discovery day” for prospective advisors online. The meetings run for 60 to 90 minutes, according to Anderson.

Anderson also said that SEI has curated and broken its content into more digestible pieces so they’re easier to engage online, which allows the advisor to “pick and choose what their experience is.”

Whereas advisors would once be treated to a meal in an SEI office or event space, the company is now offering prospective advisors an opportunity for a complimentary UberEats delivery, or instead direct that money to a charitable endeavor. Since starting the UberEats offer, SEI has diverted $200,000 to local food banks.

“We’re finding that happening on the client level as well,” Anderson said. “We no longer have to get in the car, drive to our office, find a place to park and sit there for an hour in an office, so we’re all having shorter and more meaningful—and more impactful—conversations via  Zoom and WebEx.”

SEI is also offering advisors “webinar Wednesdays” that contain a deep dive into practice and planning oriented topics.

In the future, Anderson believes that advisors are going to have to be more specialized to survive, as the larger part of the industry will either be fully automated, or a small set of extremely large firms able to operate at a level of scale and efficiency unreachable by most advisory practices. The pandemic has only served to accelerate that shift.

First « 1 2 3 » Next