The best financial planning conversations have always included consideration of the many potential what-ifs and how they could affect a client’s life goals. But in a post-pandemic world, the practice has evolved further, bringing forth a new definition of being prepared that includes being ready for any-case scenario.

By now, you have already told clients that things will never go back to normal, and instead we have arrived at a new normal. The market volatility and economic uncertainty created by the pandemic tested many financial plans, while at the same time highlighting how crucial they can be to ensuring clients reach their goals. It also pushed many investors without a financial plan to consider building one for the first time.

According to a recent Charles Schwab Financial Literacy survey conducted by The Harris Poll, more than half (51%) of survey respondents said they wish they were taught at a younger age how to set financial goals and work toward them. The survey found that the COVID-19 pandemic exposed how financially vulnerable many Americans are.

Under this current environment, the role of an advisor in helping to shape a financial plan has become even more valuable. Many clients, depending on their age, have either been reminded or learned firsthand over the past few months that “past performance is not indicative of the future.” Advisors say clients have been checking in more often to discuss if they are still on their pre-set retirement track -- and they have more questions than ever.

Going forward, the potential trade-offs and what-if scenarios will be an even bigger part of the conversation with clients. This is the underpinning of the advancements to come and future usage of planning. In this new normal, we see three ways that financial planning is being reshaped in the post-pandemic world.

Highly Customized Planning
Clients today don’t want to fill out a form. They expect their financial services experiences to be like those of their other favorite brands: “all about them” and engaging. 

The shift to more personalized personal finance and wealth management experiences is nothing new, however the pandemic greatly accelerated the pace of this change overnight. Many advisors already use digital financial planning offerings to keep up with the pace of innovation on this front, while new products are continuously launching. Many of these tools and solutions drive deeper conversations, which can make all the difference as relationships reign supreme in this business.

Regular Preparedness “Fire Drills”
Some things in our business will never change. Getting on the path toward retirement goals and financial wellness will always begin with building a financial plan. Staying on that path requires being able to shift and realign as needed under any circumstances – and in any market environment.

In other words, your clients must be prepared for anything. The pandemic delivered an unmissable lesson on how important this is.

Since March, we have seen an uptick in use of our MyBlocks offerings which help clients do exactly this. These interactive modules allow clients to explore their lives and discover powerful answers to complex questions – including what would a worst-case scenario mean for their retirement dreams.

All-Access, 24-7
The pandemic also sped up the ongoing digital transformation of our industry. Face time with clients has gone mostly virtual.

Putting interactive, engaging tools at consumers’ fingertips and making their financial lives accessible at all times is no longer a nice to have. It is expected and the demand will only continue to grow moving forward.

This, along with personalized offerings and preparedness testing capabilities will remain key components to delivering financial planning advice and wellness in the post-pandemic world.

Tony Leal is president of Envestnet MoneyGuide. Tony has been at Envestnet MoneyGuide since its inception in 1997.