Will your clients want the nearest or the best?

Amar Pandit , CFA , CFP

Amar Pandit

A respected entrepreneur with 25+ years of Experience, Amar Pandit is the Founder of several companies that are making a Happy difference in the lives of people. He is currently the Founder of Happyness Factory, a world-class online investment & goal-based financial planning platform through which he aims to help every Indian family save and invest wisely. He is very passionate about spreading financial literacy and is the author of 4 bestselling books (+ 2 more to release in 2020), 8 Sketch Books, Board Game and 700 + columns.

There is no such thing as a local advisor anymore. This is the headline of Josh Brown’s column on thereformedbroker blog. I have shared the original post for your ready reference here. Check it out.

The post was bang on as I felt Josh had put in words precisely, the same key message that we have been sharing with distributors and advisors over the last 12 months. Thus, I thought of writing my take on some of the key points in his column.

Josh writes “One of the consequences of 2020 that is not yet fully realized within the financial advisory profession is the fact that now 100% of current and potential clients of wealth management firms have become comfortable doing business online and, on the phone”. Indian distributors and advisors are not far behind. Many have still not realized this truth and have been waiting to do business the way it was done (in person). I am not saying meeting in person is not important, but the key point is that you are wasting precious time when your prospects and clients are ready to meet you online. Doing business online gives you the leverage for scale, for faster client closure and for expanding your reach all over India as well as in other countries. There is no need to waste time thinking whether this is true or false. It is true and the best ones are spreading their reach geographically.

It is your turn now to be ready to cater to this trend by changing your mindset, building your skills, technology infrastructure and client experience (we have a world class one ready for you). The markets have been kind but do not depend on this and hope this is your strategy. This trend has been in the works for quite some time and we have been investing significantly in delivering this outstanding client experience for the last 5 years. COVID-19 just accelerated this trend and made adoption across the board.

Josh further writes “Ask yourself – after a year of doing business and living life digitally, do you want the nearest or do you want the best when it comes to your money and your future?  Many more people will be choosing the best rather than the nearest from now on. Nearness is not going to be a thing in our industry for much longer.

I can totally attest for this as I have experienced this in the last 15 years, and I am sure many of you would agree too. Our partners are now acquiring clients not only in their cities but outside their states in different cities. Why do you think this is happening? Proximity is no longer a strong value proposition and investors value skills and want the best for their life and money. Technology now enables them to connect instantly with some of the best professionals across the country without stepping out of their home. Thus, they are no longer obsessing about meeting in person although at very high levels of wealth (UHNIs), this might be a requirement. In such cases, people hop on to a flight and do the meeting as and when required. This has been the way of doing business for us since 2005. We have hopped on flights without the need for any local offices. The best part now is that this is becoming an accepted norm by investors too. They have lived digitally the last 1 year and have now become comfortable dealing with financial professionals on Zoom, Google Meets and on calls.

Remember, if you are the best, then proximity is like the cherry on top of the cake (it puts you in a winning position), but the cake is what you need to focus on (being the best in terms of your skills and value proposition for your ideal client profile).

Josh further writes “Forward thinking advisors have been preparing for this for a long time without having realized it in many cases. User interfaces, portals, gateways, video conferencing, content, cybersecurity – these are investments we have been making for years. They are not luxury or an add-on, they are essential”.

I could not agree more with this line as we have also gone through a rigorous FinTech product development phase where we have built some of the finest products in the world including an AI based Chatbot, Conversational Tools and the Future of Performance Reporting. The need of the hour is to not just look at what has worked in the past but to look at what is likely to work in the future. There are clear signals to you in terms of what is coming. There is no excuse to give or no place to hide. The Future is coming for all of us and the key questions that we need to ask ourselves are the following:

  1. Are we ready in terms of client experience, technology, and skills to thrive in the Future?
  2. Are we ready to compete with stronger competitors?
  3. If we are not, then what are we doing about it?

Josh ends the post with a solid punch “On the other side of the pandemic, we find ourselves in a whole new game. It is national. It is in the cloud; it is on your screen. There are no more boundaries. There are no more borders. There are no more barriers. We are coming.

Are you ready?