The idea of “going virtual” is not for every advisor—or every client, for that matter. However, doing so may offer a range of potential benefits that can help grow a practice and increase its profitability. Read on!
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The Location-Independent Financial Advisor
If you’re like most advisors, your largest expense—after compensation—is probably office rent. Yet, in this increasingly digital world, how important is it to have a physical office to service your clients?
Consider these recent findings by McKinsey1:
- Seventy-two percent of investors under the age of 40 said that they would be “comfortable” or “somewhat comfortable” working with a virtual financial advisor. And, this openness to a “virtual” advisor wasn’t limited to younger investors, with 67 percent of the age group 40-49, 59 percent of those aged 50-59 and 51 percent of investors 60-69 years old each indicating a willingness to work with an advisor that did not have a physical location.
- The findings were similar when measured on investable assets, with receptivity actually growing with wealth: 55 percent for those with $250,000-$500,000 in investment assets, 57 percent for investors with $500,000-$1 million in assets and 59 percent for individuals whose portfolios ranged from $1 million to $5 million.
It appears that many advisors may already be heading in this direction. According to a 2017 survey by InvestmentNews, more than 64 percent of advisor firms are already employing enterprise video conferencing to communicate internally or with clients, while a third are using video chat software.2
The Benefits of Going Virtual
The idea of “going virtual” is not for every advisor—or every client, for that matter. For advisors, however, it may offer a range of potential benefits that can grow a practice and increase its profitability.
- Cost Savings—The cost savings realized and the consequent impact on an advisor’s profitability will largely depend on the market in which an advisor operates and the size of the practice.
- Improve Client Experience—The ability to communicate digitally saves clients from time-consuming trips to an advisor’s office, and can improve the frequency and quality of client communications and interactions.
- Creates Market Differentiation—The ability to service investors digitally can open advisors to a new demographic like Millennials, while also creating a competitive distinction among busy business owners and high net worth investors that would welcome the convenience of a digital-based advisor relationship.
Of course, there are drawbacks—chief among them are the intangible, but not insignificant benefit, of face-to-face conversations and the dubious perception associated with no physical office.
It’s clear that technology—such as broadband connectivity, the cloud and virtual assistants—has afforded advisors new opportunities to reimagine the way they do business and interact with clients. The decision to go “virtual,” it should be emphasized, is not a binary one. Building a virtual practice does not necessarily mean abandoning current clients who prefer the personal touch. It simply means that advisors now have an opportunity to pursue a purposeful path that positions their practice for the future.
See referenced disclosure (2) at http://blog.americanportfolios.com/disclosures/