Will things ever go back to the way they were? This is a question that many have asked since the COVID-19 pandemic began. And the answer, in some cases, may be yes. But in other cases, the likelihood that things will revert to a pre-pandemic world is unlikely. During 2020, we saw many changes in personal communication to adapt to the limitations of quarantine, and many found some of these adaptations to be more efficient. Financial planning, and investing in general, is one of the fields that saw an increase in the use of tools for personal communication that resulted in improved relationships and an increase in client loyalty.
How Did the Pandemic Impact the Financial Industry?
During the pandemic, the field of financial planning and investments saw an increase in interest. Much of this increase was due to the instability of the markets during March of 2020. And, then the ensuing Great Resignation demonstrated people wanting to make significant changes to their lifestyle–which meant they needed to understand how this would affect their financial journey and potential retirement plans.
In recent years, this approach tended to deter potential clients, particularly those who are new to investing or those needing more consultation and not investment performance, as they often sought advice in different areas in which no assets would require advisor management.
So how do you connect with the next generation of clients or those closer to retirement without lowering your cost to a place where you can no longer efficiently operate?
The answer could be structuring your process with a clear and stated fee, but one that is not a flat rate. This can be achieved through a subscription-based plan.
Benefits of a Subscription-Based Plan
There are many advantages to switching to a subscription-based financial planning
1. Build Trust
Many times, the number one issue to act as a barrier between financial advisors and their clients is trust. This can be a common issue in any business relationship, but it can be especially problematic in a situation where you are managing someone’s money. With the traditional structure of financial planning and management, clients are not always aware of what their costs might be or what they are receiving in return. This can cause a lot of alarm and hesitancy, especially with the new generation of investors.
Subscription-based financial planning could help play an essential role in building the trust between an advisor and the client by providing the client with a single and consistent cost every month, all while clearly communicating what it is exactly that the cost is covering. There are no surprises in the monthly bill. This structure allows the advisor to provide data that is most relevant to the client’s goals, communicate with the client on a more regular basis, offer advice absent any perception of market incentives, and overall help to make the client better informed on the choices they make.
2. Customize Strategies
Another major benefit of subscription-based financial planning is the flexibility for advisors to reform and customize the structure, service, and cost as clients feel comfortable making these changes. That means that as clients become more comfortable with their advisors, and therefore, more willing to adjust to a higher caliber of service, the advisor can simply raise the fee or shift more of the costs toward a blended model using assets already under management. On the flip side, if for whatever reason, the client decides that they would prefer fewer financial services, the advisors can easily lower the fee while still retaining the client.
No matter the case, this structure helps the client to maintain value while the advisor maintains income that remains proportional to the time commitment, with simple services selection rather than undergoing an intensive traditional process to switch services.
3. Competitive Advantage
One of the biggest changes we saw in this industry over the pandemic was not only the sudden interest in investing, but the apps and services making it easy to pursue the field. The introductions of these tools, like Robinhood, to the market have only added to the already competitive nature we see in finance. These competitive pressures in the financial management industry have been pushing traditionally set fees lower, which has made it harder for these companies to compete in the realm of services.
Offering a subscription-based financial plan can help planners compete with online brokers and other advisors who are already offering the service. It allows you to offer the convenience, communication, and experiences while maintaining the intentionality that many value in an advisor relationship.
While some aspects of life before the pandemic are returning, there are some changes that were made in or after 2020 that are likely here to stay. Traditional financial planning is one of those areas that will always look a little different now. However, this does not mean that financial advisors can no longer compete with the technology and free resources out there. It just means that they will have to make changes to their own processes to maintain the value of service. Using the experience they have had managing client portfolios is something advisors can now turn into a highly sought-after fee-for-service model and offer subscription-based financial planning could be a huge step in that direction.