In the midst of highly challenging circumstances, advisors are going
above and beyond for clients; these are some of their stories.
Charles Schwab’s recent announcement that it’s giv- ing retail investor clients a free financial planning tool is the latest wake-up call to advisors that they should review their client service and consider upping their game as multiple industry players digitize more processes, industry watchers say.
“The news is yet another reason advisors need to worry aboutthe future of their businesses and need to pivot ASAP to [pro-vide] an enriched service offering that emphasizes their professional approach beyond investing,” said Tim Welsh, head of theconsultancy Nexus Strategy. “Once again, Schwab is taking awayyet another aspect of their value proposition,” he added.
Others agreed. As robo-advisors and huge industry playerslike Schwab “keep moving” into the areas previously dominated by financial advisors, “advisors need to think like sharksand keep swimming or drown,” said Craig Iskowitz, head ofthe consultancy Ezra Group.
This means offering more advice, specialized financial planning, alternative investments and/or distinctive services for aparticular client niche, like retired pilots or bass fishermen,Iskowitz explains.
“You have to offer the best service to survive,” he said, and
that means surpassing “what Schwab is giving away for free.
It’s about finding your niche and then excelling at it.”
In a climate in which there’s a lot being given away, the
question becomes, “What do you offer?” Iskowitz asked. “The
answer is better value … . You’ve got to explain and justify your
value proposition or you’re out of business.”
Others agree. “Advisors who get it and that have seen what’s
coming with technology like this, they shouldn’t be worried,”
said Gavin Spitzner of Wealth Consulting Partners. “Those who
have a specialized practice and recognize their value is behav-
ioral coaching and life planning won’t have any issue with this.
“Those advisors who ‘get’ their value to clients are focusingon delivering what cannot be digitized, and that’s the key,”Spitzner explained. In other words, it pays to think strategically and also emotionally — via approaches based on behavioralfinance and that entail empathy — as much more competitionand further digitization are expected.
Since the start of the COVID- 19 pandemic, many financialadvisors have done just that in a variety of compelling andinnovative ways. We highlight the stories of several, who’vegone above and beyond for their clients in the midst of highlychallenging circumstances, on the pages that follow.
By Jeff Berman, Janet Levaux, Ginger Szala and Jane Wollman Rusoff
Inspiring Stories of Financial
Planning in a Crisis
COVID- 19 Chronicles: