We spend our days planning for the future – our clients’ and our own.
In 2027, our industry will be a profession. However, it may not be the one we think we’re heading towards. The profession of the future must include the health and happiness of the client as the central focus, not just financial advice.
The only way to increase demand for our services is to listen to what our clients want, and that is the assistance of someone who takes a holistic view of their life – the health, wealth and happiness.
At Evalesco, our clients have told us that they value when we dig deep to find out what is important to them, when we take the time to understand them. We’re in an incredibly privileged position because we get to know more about our clients than pretty much anyone else. Interestingly, couples rarely ever have this level of conversation between themselves, so it can be quite revealing and cathartic.
Few clients come in with an exclusive goal of being wealthy for the sake of being wealthy. Their goals are always tied to their health and happiness, with money the means to that end.
As US financial thought leader Michael Kitces says, the role of the financial adviser is to “help people address the great mysteries of how to use money, rather than letting money use them”.
In the profession of the future, there will still be a role for the services we offer, including access to general accountants, tax specialists, personal insurance advisers, investment advisers, super specialists, mortgage brokers, general insurance providers, health insurance providers, property advisers, and estate-planning specialists.
The key difference will be that the client of the future will ask, ‘Why would I explain my circumstances to each of these specialists when I can get integrated service via one adviser who really does understand me?’
And when you throw similar access to health and happiness experts into the mix, the value of seeking advice skyrockets in the public’s perception. We’ll have moved from ‘I’m not sure how a financial adviser could help me’ to ‘Here, can you just sort all of this out for me, so I can get on with living a healthy and happy life?’
It’s a long process and it will challenge our compliance and legislative framework, but that’s where the demand lies, so we’ve got to put the work in to get there.
With advances in technology, it won’t be unreasonable for clients to expect one adviser to be able to manage and strategically advise on how best to optimise their overall position (with a range of technical specialists as behind-the-scenes back up).
Technology will be an enabler for the efficient implementation of this holistic approach. When sites such as MyProsperity (where you can see data feeds of a client’s property value, bank accounts and car valuation, and run cashflow reporting and track financial goals) and a program like AIA Vitality (where a client can monitor and improve their health) are integrated, advisers will have easy access to much of the information they need to create and help clients stick with life-encompassing strategies.
As the gatekeepers to abundant information all on the one dashboard, financial advisers will be able to track clients’ progress towards overall wellbeing and provide benchmarking data on the truly meaningful aspects of their lives.
But where will we find advisers who can address such a broad remit? Educational pathways will need to change to include the skills and knowledge necessary. Technical knowledge will continue to be vital but much more will be expected of the adviser in 10 years. It’s time to embrace the discipline of ‘finology’ emerging from the US – incorporating finance with psychology.
This line of thinking may also be reflected in the testing of the standard of ‘best interest duty’. How can an adviser do what’s in the best interest of a client, if they haven’t asked what’s important to the client? And if they have asked, what are they able to do about it?
In today’s world, taking the holistic approach to this level may seem far-fetched. But if you look at how much our industry has changed over the last 10 years, let’s face it, anything is possible.
Jeff Thurecht is an adviser at Evalesco Financial Services.
TOPICS: Evalesco, finology, future, Michael Kitces, Professional Planner 10th Anniversary