Business as usual may just put you out of business next year. I played golf with an advisor yesterday who doesn’t quite understand that. He’s very much a student of the “we’ve always done it this way before” school of thought. I almost feel sorry for him. That philosophy will lead him down a path of destruction in a post-pandemic world.
Our conversation was cordial, but brief. He told me what he did. I asked him about his online presence. His response was, “We don’t worry about the website and we don’t have a blog.” That’s strike one in my book. He later commented that his top priority right now is to “get his nine employees back into the office.” That was strike two.
The third strike came when I attempted to converse with him about virtual advising. I’ve never seen a sober human being come that close to vomiting on the golf course. I believe he was actually offended by the concept. I’m not surprised. This is Massachusetts. Resistance to change is in our DNA, especially when it comes to finance.
Client Behavior has Evolved
The Covid-19 Pandemic has changed the way that humans interact with each other. Those who formerly preferred an in-person approach are now embracing remote options. Zoom (ZM) is up 267% in the past six months. Amazon (AMZN) is selling for $3000 a share. People are literally living online. Everything is available to them with a simple mouse click.
These behavior patterns are driven by circumstances. Those will change, too. The fear will subside at some point when vaccines and cures become available. The memory of what we go through this year will remain. I’m not just talking about death counts and stay-at-home orders. People will remember how easy it is to do business online.
Physically visiting the mall will soon be a nostalgic story I’ll tell my grandchildren. Higher education is already a remote-first business model. Visiting your financial advisor for a face-to-face? I’d rather sit at home and watch him on my computer screen. In a 2014 study by Statista, 59% of folks my age agreed with me. That was six years ago.
The Machines Have Risen
According to a February 2020 article in Traders Magazine, robo-advisors will become a $1.4 Trillion industry this year. By 2023, that number is projected to be at $2.5 Trillion. Once again, this data was compiled pre-pandemic. It’s too early to modify the outlook, but it’s fairly safe to assume it will escalate. Without a virtual option, you will be unable to compete.
My friend from the golf course told me that none of this applied to him because he only works with high net worth clients. He might be right about the robo piece. I can’t see anyone dumping thirty million into Betterment or Personal Capital. Unfortunately for him, the numbers above also include hybrid robo-advisors.
I spent ten years as a sales coach at Blueleaf helping advisors establish an online presence with a client portal and on-demand reporting. Most of those advisors are working with HNW clients. The theory that money makes you think and behave differently than the rest of humanity goes out the window when it comes to technology.
Get Out of the Office Now
It astounds me when a professional service provider, in any industry, devalues the importance of his or her website. There are 4.57 billion internet users in the world. Two hundred ninety-three million of them live in the United States. Robo-advisors claim 147 million users. Which of these numbers suggests that your online presence isn’t relevant?
Your website is an essential piece of your business. The blog on your website is a tool you can use to drive traffic and tell the world what you have to offer. Those HNW prospects? They love to read about how the new tax laws are affecting them this year. Succession plans and M&A strategies are also significant topics.
Move your brain away from the brick and mortar office and start doing business online. That’s where your growth will come from next year. Trust and believe. Virtual advisory firms will take your clients away and eliminate any chance you have of acquiring new ones. Don’t let that happen. The old school is closed. It’s time for you to try something new.
Kevin D. Flynn is the founder and CEO of AdvisorScale Financial Writing. When he’s not writing or on the golf course, he spends his “free” time designing WordPress websites or creating business sales processes for start-ups. In addition to AdvisorScale, Mr. Flynn is also the Executive Director of H.E.L.P. for Young Readers and Managing Editor at October Golf Magazine. He lives in Leominster, Massachusetts, with his wife Evelyn. They have four adult children, two cats, and eight wonderful grandchildren.