Top 4 things the financial services industry learned in 2020

December 29, 2020 by Kelton Corcoran

About the author

Kelton Corcoran

Senior content marketing specialist

Kelton Corcoran is a senior content marketing specialist at Advicent, the financial planning technology provider of choice for nearly 100,000 financial professionals.

How could an industry that historically relies heavily on in-person meetings to build relationships and grow trust succeed in a world abruptly overturned by a global pandemic? Good question.

Institutions, independent advisors, wealth managers, and all of the many other players in the financial services industry were presented with monumental challenges in 2020. One of the most remarkable was a seemingly overnight shift to virtual client meetings whilst orchestrating a significant influx of client and prospect inquiries.

While many may view 2020 as a year to forget, events of this year have spurred growth and innovation in the FinTech industry, accelerated the adoption of remote client engagement, and emphasized the value of both financial professionals and comprehensive plans. Let’s take a closer look at four key lessons the financial services industry has learned in 2020:

Connecting with clients

Financial planning is less about precisely predicting the future, but rather being prepared for the unpredictable. Alongside volatile markets and a change to everyday life, improving financial preparedness quickly increased in popularity.

Of course, many advisors dealt with concerns from their clients over existing strategies and what impact the pandemic might have on their financial goals. In a CFP Board study released in late April, it was found that 78 percent of CFP professionals reported an increase in client inquires during the pandemic. It became paramount that advisors calm their clients and stay connected amid the uncertainty.

Remote client connection became the norm, with tools such as an interactive client portal and engaging plan presentation methods playing a key role in advice delivery. For advisors looking for tips on how to connect with their clients remotely, check out this eBook.

Introducing financial planning

Current clients have not been the only ones looking to improve their financial foothold during the pandemic. In the same CFP Board study, 34 percent of advisors reported an increase in prospective inquiries.

Despite the goal of financial planning being to plan for the road ahead, investors are often reactive when it comes to seeking financial advice. The events of this year have opened many minds to the importance of having a comprehensive financial plan and understanding how certain events can impact their financial health.

Although this increase in prospective clients is certainly exciting, many advisors’ time was stretched thin between shifting their firms’ operations and serving current clients, on top of adding new ones. For those looking to expedite the process and quickly showcase their value, the NaviPlan Guided Retirement tool allows advisors to create a financial needs analysis after entering just one data point – income. Guided Retirement leverages smart assumptions to illustrate personalized retirement expenses across three phases of retirement and highlight where a prospect currently falls short.

Refining the planning process

In addition to shortening the time to onboard new prospects, firms can look at 2020 as yet another reason to explore additional areas for increased efficiency in their financial planning processes.

Some might be concerned about using the word “process” when it comes to financial planning and that defining workflows will lead to simplistic, cookie-cutter advice. In fact, the result is quite the opposite. Clearly defining your process and creating repeatable workflows allows for more time to focus on customizing advice for a client’s unique needs. Additionally, creating a seamless planning process at your firm can make managing change far easier, whether it be an extraordinary workplace shift like 2020 presented, or something more common such as shifting industry regulations.

To learn more about how to define your planning process and identify opportunities to increase efficiency, check out this whitepaper.

Taking time to improve

While many advisors have been thin on time throughout this year, some looked to use downtime to improve their practices along the way. The start of a new year is a popular time to reassess firm marketing efforts and with the demand for financial planning reaching a new height – it could be an incredibly valuable process. From a website built to drive demand to an engaging social media strategy, there are many avenues for firms to take their marketing to a new level. Check out our advisors’ guide to impactful digital marketing here.

For advisors who need to meet continuing education credit goals or those simply looking to further their skills, online programs have become even more readily available as in-person conferences remain on hold. One such example is the latest offering from industry publication with their advanced advisor education video series The Authority. Advicent COO Anthony Stich is featured as the speaker for the debut episode, which is redeemable for one hour of CFP/CIMA CE credit. Check out the episode here.

Though 2020 has brought numerous challenges to financial advisors, there have been positive moments that will help advance the financial planning practice forward. As we move into 2021, these four takeaways will continue to play a role for firms of all sizes, and those ready to adapt will be in a position for a successful new year.

In this whitepaper, learn how FinTech can be implemented to solve the biggest pain points facing advisors in the areas of client engagement, advice delivery, and scaling advice complexity.