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Using Account Aggregation to Grow Your Business
• Brandon Heid • February 28, 2023
It would be difficult to create a holistic financial plan for any client without a full picture of their financial lives. Account aggregation gives financial professionals—and their clients—a complete and centralized view of the client’s financial information.
At a minimum, this allows for more personalized advice, the potential to identify assets held away, and to effectively monitor the client’s overall financial progress.
And while the use of account aggregation technology streamlines onboarding, it also highlights the value of a financial professional, helping improve client loyalty and business growth.
See All of Your Client’s Assets
Successfully gathering the necessary information to create comprehensive financial plans for clients is a continued pain point for financial planners. Any tool that helps with this process will lead to greater efficiencies and free up time for financial professionals to do more for existing and potential clients.
Looking at account aggregation from the client’s perspective, providing a tool that can give them a complete view of their assets instantly ramps up the value of your services. You’ve created a place your clients will want to visit again and again, increasing the “stickiness” of those clients to reduce attrition.
Additionally, in an industry where diversification is often advised, it’s not unusual to find that your clients have multiple investments outside of those you manage. But whether they’ve opened various accounts for diversification or for the purpose of comparing services, account aggregation provides a window into those assets and gives you the opportunity to improve client success by advising on their entire portfolio.
Beyond AUM—Embracing Assets Under Advisement
There are several approaches to providing advice when you come across accounts that clients hold elsewhere. In some cases, moving these accounts to your direct management may not be an option, such as an employer-sponsored retirement account. Still others may not be beneficial to move because of tax consequences or early withdrawal penalties.
In these cases, there is still an opportunity to provide guidance while recognizing the limitations. You can provide holistic financial advice on all the client’s investment assets and be compensated for that advice by setting a fee for held away accounts under advisement (AUA) in addition to your regular accounts under management fee.
For example, with an AUA fee in place for an employer-sponsored 401(k), you can provide ongoing advice and guidance on things like investment allocation, how it should be invested, and yearly rebalancing. By providing this advice, you have a reason to bill something on those assets under advisement so you can generate sufficient revenue to provide the client your overall services—especially for a client where the majority of their assets are tied up in a 401(k).
With the changing trends in advisory fee structures, there are also options for charging based on a retainer structure, a flat fee, or subscription-based models. These options allow you to profitably provide advice on held away assets as well as create an effective financial plan that considers the client’s complete financial picture.
Prospecting on Assets Held Away
Account aggregation provides a great first step in growing your share of wallet with clients. Use a strategic approach by making a list of those who have significant levels of held-away assets that would be available for migration to your practice. These are the clients you want to have honest and direct conversations with about your desire to further help them by managing those assets.
If you’ve been advising them on their complete portfolio, you’ve been showcasing your expertise and demonstrating further ways you could help them if you fully managed more of their assets. Other arguments for consolidation include the ability to offer discounts for directly managing a larger share of assets, better coordination of effective strategies to avoid redundancies or overlap, managing reinvestment techniques, and coordinating investment tax planning strategies.
Whatever your approach, you’ll have spent significant time establishing credibility and trust with these clients to not only ensure you retain them but also to leverage the influence you’ve built to grow that relationship. Failing to ask for that business could leave future revenue on the table.
Asking for the Business
One of the best ways to prepare a client for this conversation is to be open from the start of the relationship by voicing your confidence in your value proposition. As you begin working with a new client, let them know that at some point you plan to have this very conversation—that you will be asking for the additional business.
As with any sales-related client conversation, it helps to have a plan in place—including a script or talking points. Spend some time thinking through what that conversation could sound like with each client.
Here’s an example of a positioning statement that would work in most cases:
“Client, as your financial advisor for the past XX months/years, I have demonstrated my obligation to give you financial advice that’s in your best interest. And I believe that it’s in your best interest to have all of your assets with me so I can coordinate every aspect of your financial life to help you reach your financial goals.”
For clients who have been more hands-off—those who are happy to have you manage their planning and investments for them, here is another approach:
“Client, you hired me because you wanted to simplify your life, but by having multiple advisors it appears you’re having to take a more active management role. During the time we’ve been working together, I have demonstrated my expertise in managing and advising you on your assets and I believe I have earned your trust. I’d like to help you simplify things further by coordinating every aspect of your financial life so you can focus on the things you enjoy.”
If you’ve built a solid, trusting relationship with your clients and have demonstrated your ability to help them achieve their financial goals, there’s no reason you shouldn’t have the confidence to ask them for more of their business.
Account Aggregation Allows for Holistic Planning While Building Your Business
Your clients may not be consciously looking for you to sell them on why you should be the one to manage all their assets. But by using account aggregation to give you the insight needed to engage with them on a holistic financial plan, you can show them you care while at the same time demonstrating your expertise.
Financial planning technology that includes account aggregation allows you to cater to the individual needs of each client, making it clear to them that you are looking out for their best interest. Interacting with them in this manner is critical to making them feel comfortable with you managing all of their assets.
To learn more about how technology, including account aggregation, can help you grow and scale your business, watch our on-demand webinar 11 Ways to Engage with Purpose.
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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