The challenging economic climate has increased clients’ expectations of a financial advisor. Just a decade ago, advisors were seen by some clients as someone who simply facilitated a trade or provided asset allocation advice at the account level.
With interest rates at historical lows, traditional fixed income investments are offering little hope in meeting retirement goals. Establishing a plan that incorporates a client’s total financial picture is the first step toward ensuring a successful retirement. Even with the wealth of investment information readily available, many investors need assistance from an advisor to decipher how their actions impact their underlying plan.
The term advisor has now taken on additional meaning. Many advisors have evolved their roles by serving as a “life coach” advising on financial and estate planning, taxes and budgeting – just to name a few. As more Boomers enter retirement and transition from wealth accumulation, financial plans will have to include an income management component to deliver the most tax efficient distribution strategy.
Advisors are having ongoing conversations with clients, looking at their full financial pictures, often leading to other opportunities to earn clients’ trust – and more assets. In my conversations with advisors we serve, I even heard how one helped his client save money in the purchase of a new car.
As Boomers are leaving the wealth accumulation phase of their financial plans and enter the wealth distribution phase of their lives, an advisor’s role needs to transition. How will advisors adjust their practices to deal with the increasing number of Boomers transitioning? How will time horizons affect Gen X and Gen Y clients?
These opportunities are one of many why brokers from wirehouses or IBDs break away and pursue a career as an independent advisor. According to the 2012 Scottrade® Advisor Services Registered Investment Advisor Study, 66 percent of advisors polled broke away from their full-service or independent broker careers because they wanted to make their own decisions and have the flexibility to meet their clients’ needs better.
More than half of the respondents noted not having to sell or cross-sell products as a reason for breaking away. As each person’s – or household’s – situation is unique, there is no longer a one-size-fits-all approach or product that fits a client’s needs, which is why a personalized approach is more and more important. As the role of an advisor is changing, custodians have to adapt to ensure advisors are receiving the right service to meet their client’s needs.
It’s good to know custodians are doing a good job so far. Of those independent advisors polled, 89 percent said they had the information and support needed to thrive in the past year, and 57 percent said they were “very satisfied” with their primary custodians. While those numbers are good, there is still room for improvement. As new technologies, financial products and ideas emerge, custodians need to evolve to provide the support advisors can benefit from.
Advisors will pull through these challenging economic times and become more resourceful and smarter than before. As they do, choosing the right custodian – or custodians – will be critical.
Brian A. Davis has more than 15 years of experience in the financial services industry, and joined Scottrade in 2003. As director of Scottrade® Advisor Services, Davis oversees the strategic direction of the business unit, which more than 1,100 advisory firms in its client base. He holds his Bachelor of Science in Business Management from the University of Phoenix and is currently working on his Master of Arts in Leadership and Organizational Development at Saint Louis University. Davis currently maintains Series 7, 24, 63, and 66 licenses.