Influencing, Philosophizing

Between Sessions: Successful advisors and engagement

Between Sessions is a recurring discussion of the impact of digital technology on business models in financial services. The format is simple: a conversation between Blane Warrene and myself, during which we explore a wide variety of topics – technology, communications, public relations, branding, marketing, compliance, security, privacy and more – in this evolving, new digital era.

The name refers to those often most valuable conversations among participants at a conference or event that occur “between sessions”.

Julie Littlechild on engagement and the advisor-client relationship

On this edition, Blane and I welcome special guest Julie Littlechild, whose firm If Not Now Research focuses on identifying and sharing the best habits and practices that make successful financial advisors so successful. Julie’s blog is a treasure trove of ideas and insights for high-performing advisors who want to take their game to the next level.

We discussed two articles from Julie’s blog. In The Six Characteristics of Successful Advisors, Julie focuses in on how advisors learn from their peers in order to drive their own professional development. While Julie’s data shows that social networks such Twitter are not today among the top sources of this learning, my sense is that social networks will grow in importance as a tool for helping advisors to connect with and learn from their peers in coming years.

In The Future of Client Engagement, Julie introduces the concept of not just adding value to the relationship with your client, but of jointly engaging your client to create that value. This builds on Julie’s past research into the economics of loyalty which points to the fact that client satisfaction alone is not enough to drive referrals and growth. Engagement, she argues, is the single most powerful business development tool available to financial advisors.

I love this concept because it speaks to a fundamental trend emerging out of the digital age: engagement between businesses and their customers. And engagement in this era is more than ever a mutually created state of a relationship between a service provider and recipient, between a financial advisor and their client.

Ric Edelman: Futurist

In Ric Edelman’s piece for Financial Advisor Magazine, he explores broad, disruptive future scenarios for investment advisors based on massive social and industrial changes driven by technology. In addition to building a successful and forward-looking advisory business, Edelman is a bonafide futurist and graduate of Ray Kurzweil’s Singularity University.

Using the example of the driverless car, Blane and I explored all the implications that we full expect to see in our lifetime:

  • many kids born today won’t need to learn how to drive;
  • this will significantly impact the automobile insurance market, since driverless cars get in almost no accidents;
  • emergency rooms in hospitals will not have to attend to accident-related injuries;
  • law enforcement will not need to patrol roads because driverless cars will obey all laws;
  • and the list goes on.

Edelman then looks at the financial planning implications of some intriguing topics, such as increasing longevity and digital currency. This is a worthwhile article to read if you are in the financial advisory business.

Pew on cybersecurity

While trying not to end on a note of gloom, we were distressed by the results of a recent Pew survey as to why people are not more active in protecting their privacy and security online. The reasons cited are both concerning and not too surprising: “I have nothing to hide” or “I do not have the time or expertise”. Some people even expressed concerns that protecting their security would attract greater scrutiny.

This is an interesting survey because it asked these questions in the context of reports of increased domestic surveillance by agencies such as NSA. However, these same attitudes affect how seriously financial professionals and advisors take cybersecurity issues within their businesses. Saying “I don’t have the time or expertise” to address security and privacy in your business has serious potential implications that cannot be easily dismissed.

Much more on the topic of cybersecurity in future conversations.

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