16 April 2021

13 ‘Must-Have’ Abilities And Offerings For Today’s Financial Advisors

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The global changes brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic have undoubtedly been disruptive to the economy. Business budgets and operations as well as consumers’ personal finances have been affected by events including months-long closures and widespread job losses. Even as we begin to slowly emerge from the pandemic and rebuild the economy, lingering uncertainty has many businesses and consumers on edge.

The impacts from the events of recent months mean both business and personal financial clients are more dependent than ever on the insights and expertise of financial specialists. In response, financial advisors are expanding their services and expertise to better serve their clients. What used to be “nice to have” offerings are now “must-haves” if a financial firm is to compete.

So what areas do financial advisors need to have covered to fully serve their clients and protect their interests? Below, 13 experts from Forbes Finance Council share the knowledge and offerings they say clients will be needing and expecting going forward.

1. A Well-Rounded Tech Stack 

A tech stack that is digital, mobile, virtual and personal is a must. Before the pandemic, these attributes were “nice to have”—now they are “must-have.” As we return to normalcy, they will complement and level up all of our engagements. - Neal Carlson, Forthright Family Wealth

2. Robust Security Practices 

Having robust security policies and practices has gone from “nice to have” to an absolute “must-have.” The days of physical signatures in the financial world may be officially over; opening a traditional bank account is the only thing I still have to physically sign for. Protecting financial information is more critical today than ever before, and having the proper security is a must. - Joseph Orseno, Tiltify

3. Proactive Communication 

Proactive communication and expectation setting are paramount to keeping a client on course during a volatile time in the equity markets. It’s important to know that staying the course and sticking to a long-term plan is essential to achieving your goals. This needs to be repeated and repeated to clients before the next “big event” so they know “this time is not different.” - Matthew Cuplin, Midwest Financial Group

4. Awareness Of Changing Legislation 

Advisors must be aware of the always-changing legal landscape. The negative impact clients may face if they don’t properly organize their financial affairs can have dire consequences—for example, an existing spouse not receiving an inheritance that inadvertently goes to an ex-spouse. - Mark Paller, Paller Financial

5. Financial Health Checkups 

Financial health checkups fall into the “must-have” column, particularly today. New relationships typically start with a financial plan, but few advisors provide a regular financial health checkup to their existing clients. A regular “physical” of your financial health is crucial. - Sonya Thadhani Mughal, Bailard, Inc.

6. Impact Investing Understanding 

Financial advisors will see greater pressure to incorporate specific impact investing values into clients’ portfolios. Investors are increasingly interested in how companies have implemented best practices to address business disruptions from environmental, social and governance issues. - Jonathan Hudacko, Just Invest

7. Access To Alternative Strategies 

Access to alternative investment strategies is now a “must-have,” whether those strategies include private debt, real estate, or hedging on indexes or concentrated stock positions. The markets continue to move and change, and simply holding stocks and bonds is no longer an option. - Gregory Kushner, Lido Advisors, LLC

8. Active, Custom Portfolios 

Financial advisors who rely only on index funds were left behind in 2020. The ability to remove at-risk companies and sectors from a portfolio as the world changes is now an absolute requirement. Advisors who weren’t able to partially shift to the obvious investment opportunity of remote technology companies during the initial stages of the pandemic were asleep at the wheel. - Evan Kirkpatrick, Wendell Charles Financial

9. Estate Planning 

The pandemic has shown that life can be fragile and unexpected events can happen. Financial advisors should consider incorporating more detailed estate planning discussions with clients, even if they may not ultimately be the ones who draft the plans. This can include discussions around life insurance, estate taxes, planning techniques, organization of assets and so on. - Kevin Dorwin, Bingham, Osborn and Scarborough LLC (B|O|S)

10. Digital Marketing  

Digital marketing chops are essential. If you’re a financial advisor, you should have a laid-out digital marketing strategy that involves a mailing list, newsletter and strong social media presence. In the absence of in-person networking opportunities, digital marketing is paramount, and you need rock-solid content to stand out from the crowd. - Tyler Gallagher, Regal Assets

11. Virtual Meetings 

A webcam and a microphone have become essential to working in financial services since the pandemic hit last year. If financial services professionals cannot “meet” with their clients virtually and face-to-face meetings are no longer an option, their businesses will die. When was the last time you convinced someone to write a six-figure check after a phone call? This is a relationship business. - Sheryl J. Moore, Wink, Inc.

12. A Comprehensive Digital Persona 

A well-groomed digital persona (including a Web page, blog, videoconferencing, podcasts and so on) is no longer a feature to appease or impress the tech-savvy segment of one’s book. It is a must as pin codes replace pinstripes in the post-Covid-19 world. - Alexey Bulankov, Mechanics Bank Wealth Management

13. Regular Email Newsletter 

As in-person networking and in-office meetings have dissipated, it is important to keep clients, prospects and colleagues up to date on their financial best interest. One way to accomplish this during these times is through the use of a regular email newsletter. These personalized, digital correspondences can bridge the gap, plant a seed and drive reminded interest in your services. - Jeffrey Bartel, Hamptons Group, LLC

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