Webber: Ideally it’s on the front end of your financial-planning
digital engine. So at the beginning, there are individuals who
don’t need the sophistication that we were talking about earlier;
they’re paying using Venmo or another digital-payment service,
just like Amazon, Netflix and everything else they’re used to.
You’ve also got your documented services, and on the back
end, there are all kinds of regulatory issues, which we’ve had
to tackle; there’s proving services … and making sure you can
do all of that electronically for the most part.
Then the [younger investors] get out of grad school and get
an actual job that is paying them income; they need more help
than they thought they did [before]. Everyone needs debt management right now, up to a certain age; so debt management is
perfect to do on a subscription basis.
Best practices and structure — changes to [help them]
change their behavior. You have to give them [ways] to change
behavior in a complementary way that’s about documenting
and is transparent.
IA: Are you thinking about the subscription model specifically or bringing in life-balance activities?
IA: Getting back to basics, how does the BD you lead support advisor success?
Stringer: We stay pretty focused. These are business owners,
and [we are focused on] helping them run their business, grow
the business, protect their business, marketing, making acquisitions ... and coming up with all the capital. We’re putting in
place some of these different business services to help them. It
doesn’t matter if you do more brokerage business or advisory
businesses — just help them run their business better.
Probably the median age [of our advisors’] investor client is
in the mid-50s, which is the same as our advisors. So we work
on succession planning, and we have advisors’ kids coming
into the business. We have seen the transfer of wealth. We
provide tools, but it’s really about the advisor coming up with
their strategies on how they’re going to build that relationship
with the next generation.
The big metric that we follow is asset flows. You can tell
that some businesses are lifestyle businesses [for the advi-sor]; they still have to attract new business to stay put, but
some are dying businesses; these are guys coming to the end
of their careers.
We’ve also got some practices that are growing like gang-busters and are bringing assets in like crazy. It’s our job to put
the tools out there for them.
planning. They’re using the digital tools to do goals-based
financial planning, which is really what we think the future is.
And 50% of them are absolutely doing this on an ongoing basis,
whether that be the new innovative stuff that they’re looking
at, subscription-based financial planning and different terms
or different ways of doing ongoing financial planning. I don’t
think their behavior is different; it’s just the tools they’re using
[are], and how they’re delivering it and articulating it.
Dolber: What’s your view of subscription-based work and
Webber: Our advisors are using it and are having huge
momentum. Also, there’s more new partnering with it, and
it’s all about life planning. They’re partnering with outside …
services that all investors want or use in their segment.
It’s fascinating. It could be tax planning, or an advisor
could partners with a nutritionist and a fitness instructor and
do a 90-day boot camp. They charge [a set amount] and split
it [three ways], … but the client only has to write one check.
For 90 days, they can come in, and they can work out next
to the financial planner, who is not giving them high-level
financial planning advice through a normal financial plan-
ning engagement form; [clients] have access to the financial
planner at the same time that they’re getting nutrition advice
and fitness workouts.
Cambridge is being the facilitator to make it really simple
for a client to think about their whole life. Now, that investor
actually understands that their financial planner cares about
their entire life, cares about their health and wellness, cares
about taxes, for instance. Most of the time, it’s going to be a
combination of services that have to do, perhaps, with their
financial picture — but it doesn’t have to be.
Dolber: Are you getting a lot of traction with that?
Webber: It’s starting to. The early adopters, they’re the
innovators, and they’re getting a lot of traction.
Dolber: And that could be the answer for a lot of younger
people. They want that experience. That’s very different
from their parents, getting back to [the theme] “not your
Webber: We need to listen. It’s about listening. The answers
are out there, or at least the beginnings of them. I was with an
intern listening to an advisor panel, and the average age on the
panel was 58–60. The young lady crossed her arms, looked at
me and said, “I will never do business with any of those people,
because they don’t understand us.” We have to listen to the
market. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos always listened to what he
was being told by the market.