As part of my role as founder and CEO of Hearsay Social, I have the pleasure of traveling all over the world to meet with prominent leaders in the industry, learn what’s keeping them up at night, and discuss how Hearsay Social can help them succeed amidst an always-changing business and regulatory landscape.
I recently attended BlackRock‘s Leader to Leader event and participated in a panel titled “The Evolving Investor Experience” moderated by Salim Ramji, head of U.S. Wealth Advisory at BlackRock. It was an honor to speak alongside John Thiel, Head of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management; Mark Tibergien, CEO of Pershing Advisor Solutions; and Bill Harris, CEO and founder of Personal Capital.
We had an insightful dialogue on the future of wealth and asset management and, over the course of the event, it was clear from the speakers and the 100-plus wealth management leaders in attendance that four key issues were – and continue to be – top of mind for the industry:
1. Productivity pressure
Roboadvisors and, in the U.S., the imminent Department of Labor ruling – in which it’s expected to call for greater transparency into how advisors are being paid in fees and product commissions, including adopting a uniform fiduciary standard – are putting the pressure on advisors to deliver more value to clients.
Advisors can only do this by embracing technologies that free their time to focus on the human, emotional aspects of helping coach clients through tough life decisions. Two of the most time-consuming aspects are asset allocation and business development. Overall, the consensus from the C-suite is that there are big opportunities for advisors to leverage automation and productivity tools to help them recapture some of that time.
2. Democratizing advisor access
Data shows millennial clients want both access to do-it-yourself online account management tools and access to a human advisor. Where it wasn’t cost-effective for advisors to serve long-tail clients before, technology has made serving this market much more efficient. Roboadvisors are fine in a bull market, but data already is showing roboadvice clients pulling their money out at the wrong time. This is especially important since most Americans aren’t saving for retirement, or don’t know how, and – based on the math – there’s no way Social Security will be able to support millennials when they retire.
3. Regulatory tsunami
There are a growing number of regulators and regulations (SEC, FINRA, Department of Labor, CFPB, IRS, CFTC, OCC, state regulators) that are competing with one another to see who can issue the most laws and establish greater jurisdiction over the industry. This instability is a real concern for small and big firms alike who must stay ahead of and navigate more and more regulations.
4. Demographic misalignment
The median advisor is in his mid-50s and male, but the overall client demographic is shifting increasingly toward females and millennials. Industry executives concur that there’s a huge need for tools and technology to reach, recruit and retain a more diverse advisor force in order to stay relevant in the digital age.
While the challenges are very real, there’s also an incredible sense of enthusiasm and optimism. Every firm I’ve talked to has made clear that their focus is on staying relevant to clients, meeting the preferences and expectations of the increasingly omnichannel consumer, and improving productivity. The entire team at Hearsay Social looks forward to delivering the innovation that will ensure the growth and success of our customers, partners and the entire industry.
- The Age of the Trusted, Omnichannel Advisor: Insights from Social Business Innovation Summit 2015
- Hearsay Social Wins the Wealth Management Industry Award for Best Social Media Platform
- Highlights from the In|Vest Wealth Management Conference 2015
- 5 Things Wealth Managers Must Do to Thrive in the Digital Age: Insights from the 2015 World Wealth Report