Embracing Innovation: Envestnet Advisor Summit Wrap-up

VradenburgGreg Vradenburg, Managing Director, Investment Services

Last week we were honored to be one of the Premier Sponsors at the Envestnet Advisor Summit in Chicago. The theme of the event was “the next big thing” and it was evident everywhere. Envestnet Chairman and CEO Judson Bergman opened up the conference by talking about how advisors need to be disruptive innovators in order to succeed and overcome looming industry challenges. He stressed the importance of embracing technology, building brand and perfecting marketing and reminded us of past giants such as MySpace, BlackBerry and Blockbuster that did not take these steps and were not aware of happenings in the new markets and seemingly fell behind.

Envestnet President Bill Crager also talked about how the role of the advisor will become increasingly important in the next five years. As older advisors begin to exit the business, Crager projects that the average advisors assets will increase from $90 million today to $145 million in 2020. (Source: “9 Takeaways from the Envestnet Advisor Summit”, Financial Planning, May 20, 2014)

Conference attendees were also introduced to the Envestnet Institute, an online advisor education portal that features white paper, videos and webinars. Brinker Capital is proud to be one of the contributing content partners for this exciting new unified education portal.

Finally we were pleased by the informative “Liquid Alternatives Panel” that our CIO, Bill Miller, participated in. All panelists agreed the education around alternatives is key for both clients and advisors. Alternatives firmly fill a role in a portfolio by providing greater portfolio diversification as well as access to unique opportunities and strategies; however, they are just a piece of the overall pie.

Our thanks go out to Envestnet for hosting such a great event that allowed us to network with colleagues, investment professionals and Envestnet representatives! We look forward to next year’s Advisor Summit!

Applying Behavioral Finance To Investment Process Crucial To Financial Advisors, Brinker Barometer Finds

Earlier this week, the results of our latest Brinker Barometer advisor survey were made public. Click here to read the full press release. This particular Barometer had a focus on aspects of behavioral finance and how advisors gauge progress towards meeting their clients’ financial goals.

Check out some of the most interesting survey results in the infographic below!

1Q13BrinkerBarometer_5_14_13

Networking Events

Bev FlaxingtonBev Flaxington, The Collaborative

Advisors looking for ways to add value to their clients will often hold educational events. Most advisors see this as a chance for increasing satisfaction and retention, but also as a way to generate referrals. Educational events are a great way for the advisor to bring additional value to their clients.

Another option that isn’t as popular but can be extremely valuable to clients is to offer a peer networking event. In cases where your client base may include business owners, entrepreneurs, widowed or divorced women, or others with similar interests, an event set up purely for networking can give clients access to experts, information and connections. Let’s look at some best practices around doing this:

networking

(1)    Identify the themes in your client base. Do you have people who might like to meet one another, or could learn from one another? Are there clients looking for introductions in order to grow their business, or who need information in their work or philanthropic lives that another client might be able to help with? Look through your client base to see where one client could add value to another client. See what your clients struggle with in their own lives – work, hobby, charitable, etc. and whether there are opportunities to get like-minded, complementary people in the same room.

(2)    Set expectations that this is a peer networking event. Give some structure to the evening. You could have an introduction to the event, talk about the networking objectives, and perhaps introduce clients at the outset. One possibility would be to go around and have each client introduce him- or herself and talk about their area of interest for the event. What would they like to gain? Another option would be to have areas of focus set up in different spots within the room so people can choose where to go to talk to others. Or you could set it up using the “Speed Dating” format where people rotate and talk to one another for a few minutes to exchange cards and interests. You could even have a speaker who is expert in networking to share some tips and ideas about how best to network for greatest advantage, and then ask people to practice the new skills they have learned with one another.

(3)    Set a “theme” for the evening. This could be anything from “The Back Office of the Small Business Owner” to “Philanthropic Interests in Africa”. Find out what your clients are interested in, what issues they are struggling with, what information they have to share and then create the event around these things. You could find an outside expert or a client, or other trusted advisor such as an accountant or attorney to speak on a topic and then ask clients to talk about different opportunities or aspects related to their lives and situations. For example, if you have a number of entrepreneurs in your client base, you could have an evening on “Going from Start-Up to Structure” and have clients who work with these firms talk about what they offer for help.

(4)    Keep the dialogue away from investing. These events are an opportunity for your clients to learn more about what your other clients may be doing, or may have to offer. It’s a way to bring like-minded people together to learn from one another and to possibly leverage one another. The focus isn’t on the investment process or the markets, it’s on meeting the needs of your clients for information and connection.

See if your client base lends itself to peer networking opportunities. In this age of social media connections, the truth is that many people still struggle to find the “right”contacts they need to help them grow their businesses, change their lives and learn about opportunities. Your clients may prove useful to one another as you facilitate these introductions.

Dealing with Fear in Clients

Bev FlaxingtonBev Flaxington, The Collaborative

These are difficult economic times. Add the current economic climate to a market that hasn’t cooperated for some years, and you have investors with angst. Anyone with money saved, or looking at retirement, is feeling a bit worried and ill at ease. When investors are worried, it impacts the advisor. Sometimes a client will not make a decision out of fear. Sometimes referrals are impacted because clients hesitate to recommend friends and family until they see what happens with the markets. People often simply sit on the sidelines when they are fearful, because doing nothing always seems better than taking a risk.

Do advisors just have to wait out this period of angst? What if it doesn’t go away for some time? Are advisors doomed to live with fearful clients? Let’s look at some strategies for managing clients through fearful times, and perhaps even benefiting from the difficult conditions.

bev blog 12.13.12

(1)    Manage your own fears first. If you, as an advisor, are worried, this will impact your clients too. Remember, most of us recognize the “smell of fear.” We know when someone is scared or worried. If you aren’t managing your own reactions, it will be noticeable to your clients. Practice meditation or deep breathing. Go to the gym. Read books that make you laugh. Whatever you have to do to feel more upbeat and less worried, do it. And watch the way you speak. Your words should be balanced and realistic, but overall optimistic and connoting a sense of “in control” to your clients.

(2)    Stay proactive. Many of the fears come from the unknown. What will happen if our politicians can’t reach an agreement? What if they decide to do one thing over another? The news is filled with worst case scenarios. Stay on top of what’s being discussed, and provide education to your clients about what you will do in different scenarios. Show them you are paying attention and thinking about your responses based on different outcomes.

(3)    Provide education. This might be a great time to hold a client event or seminar on the things we do know about. Can you speak about long-term care? Can you talk about living well during the aging process? Can you examine 529’s and the college savings options? Find things that are more known and that may be impacting your clients now or in the future, and educate about them. Keep the focus on you and your expertise, while taking it off – even for a short time – the things that are distracting your clients.

(4)    Talk about the fear that clients and prospects have. Acknowledge that you are hearing about it from many people. Talk about how much having an advisor can put fears to rest. Instead of reading the paper every day and wondering what strategies they should take, your clients can depend on you to do this. It’s really the best time to have someone else looking out for them. Remind them of this whenever possible, and acknowledge the circumstances. You want to stay confident in your approach, but it can be helpful to let them know you understand their fears and concerns and that you are there to look out for them.

In many ways, times of uncertainty offer an opportunity for those who are confident and experienced in approach to be the beacon, or comfort, for worried investors. See what you can do to be that confident supporter during these interesting times.