How Financial Professionals Can Expand Their Business Models for Greater Growth
• Matt Schulte • January 14, 2021
“Holistic financial planning” is a phrase you’ve likely heard frequently this year regarding the future of financial advice and what your clients want from you. It’s the idea that successful financial planners—those with greater assets under management and the happiest clients—recognize and support their clients’ entire lives, not just their financial ones.
It used to be enough to provide advice and planning around income generation, asset allocation, taxes, debt, insurance, and cash flow. However, today’s clients want all that and more.
They want a financial professional that can go beyond managing money and achieving financial goals to support their peace of mind and fulfillment. These needs are more important to them but less tangible. They help them feel in control, support their families, free themselves from worry, and accomplish their life purposes. You’re now tasked with helping them reach the top of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs rather than just the foundational parts like having enough food, shelter, and money.
Sound daunting? It can be without a roadmap to support these client expectations. Expanding an existing business model to accommodate a more holistic approach to financial planning can be broken down and approached stepwise. We recently surveyed1 financial professionals and clients to learn more about these evolving expectations and where the opportunity gaps exist.
Step 1: Build a Network of Experts for Referrals
You’re probably already doing some of the hard work of holistic financial planning now, but it may not be an official part of your business model. Bill Bachrach, chairman and CEO of Bachrach & Associates, provides some sage advice: “You want to give weight to the service you have been giving away for free—if you want your business and your clients to value holistic advice you must put a price on it. Whatever you charge, be clear and transparent about it. This is especially important to engaging Gen Y/Z.”
As a first step toward monetizing the “extra” holistic planning services you may already be providing, consider building a network of experts in other industries for client referrals. According to our research, 75 percent of clients said they want their financial professional to provide referrals to experts adjacent to finance, but only 69 percent of financial professionals say they currently do. In addition, 61 percent of clients said they would appreciate referrals in non-financial areas like marriage counseling, therapy, and health.
Step 2: Establish Partnerships to Support Total Wellness
Our research shows that many financial professionals are already speaking with their clients about total wellness—the intersection of physical, financial, and mental health. There is an even greater opportunity here for financial professionals to expand their models in more formal ways, such as partnerships with counselors, law offices, or medical practices. Seventy-one percent of clients were open to a financial professional having additional professional associations in these wellness areas, but only 44 percent of financial professionals say they will pursue this opportunity.
It’s worth noting that there are significant generational differences in client acceptance of advice in these areas. For instance, 83 percent of Generation Y/Z are open to advice on compensation and salary, while only 70 percent of Generation X and Baby Boomers feel the same. When it comes to areas of mental health, the disparity is even greater: 72 percent of Generation Y/Z is open to discussing it with their financial professional, but only 39 percent of Generation X and Baby Boomers are. It’s important to know your clients and their preferences, which frequently break along generational lines, before expanding.
Step 3: Expand Your Own Subject Matter Expertise
Are you itching to get into small business consulting, life coaching, or even getting your law degree? Your clients are open to that expansion of expertise. While the number of financial professionals taking this kind of step will be few and far between, there is an opportunity to monetize your expanding subject matter expertise in other ways.
Seventy-one percent of clients we surveyed want to work with financial professionals who have additional certifications, licenses, or degrees in areas related to their total wellness. Since developing these areas of expertise require a more significant investment, only 42 percent of financial professionals are willing to pursue them—which means these certifications could be a differentiator for your business.
Don’t Play Catch-Up
“These things are all changing—the plan, the clients, the outcomes,” said Ed O’Brien, CEO of eMoney Advisor. “You don’t want to play catch-up—you want to lead.”
Your success into 2021 and beyond hinges on your ability to tap into what’s important for your clients and close the gaps in your current offerings. Learn more in our Power to the Plan ebook, where we dive deeper into the trends around total wellness, artificial intelligence and big data, as well as holistic financial planning.
1. eMoney Power to the Plan Research, July 2020, Advisors n=420, End clients n=403
DISCLAIMER: The eMoney Advisor Blog is meant as an educational and informative resource for financial professionals and individuals alike. It is not meant to be, and should not be taken as financial, legal, tax or other professional advice. Those seeking professional advice may do so by consulting with a professional advisor. eMoney Advisor will not be liable for any actions you may take based on the content of this blog.
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