As we gaze into the crystal ball for 2023, expect to see a bit more turbulence in the financial services sector. This is no surprise. In fact, it’s almost a given that market instability will continue, and there’s no quick or easy cure for inflation. But what might be unexpected is the shift that’s likely to take place in the advisor landscape.
Advisors have more opportunities than ever before to attract, retain and do great work for clients. The big question is, will their firms allow them to leverage the right digital tools at their disposal? It’s already a challenge for firms to keep up with evolving technology and offer advisors more discretion and freedom while giving them the best shot at success. But the firms that fail to do this risk losing their top advisory talent.
Like most other industries, financial services firms face a talent shortage. This was true even before the pandemic, but today, nearly four in ten financial advisors, who collectively control approximately 40% of total industry assets, are expected to retire within the next 10 years. And the talent to support this type of exodus simply isn’t there: There are fewer certified financial planners (CFPs) under the age of 30 than over the age of 70.
These problems are compounded by what many have called the Great Resignation, which makes it sound like workers are leaving their careers in droves to do something totally different and more rewarding. But the results of PwC’s annual Saratoga workforce benchmarking survey found that the Great Resignation is really more like a Great Reshuffling. People aren’t wholly abandoning their fields—they’re just looking for better options. This includes advisors who are leaving big firms to go to independent models where they have more freedom or switching to firms that they believe have a better value proposition.
With this as the backdrop, is it any wonder that the ability to attract and retain talent has taken on even greater importance? According to the findings of Schwab’s 2022 RIA Benchmarking Survey, talent is the top strategic priority for registered investment advisors who must have strong teams to properly serve their client base and support firm growth.
Adapting To A New Reality
One of the biggest ways for firms to attract and retain top advisors is by giving them the tools and support they need, which includes digital communications. Financial services firms traditionally tread cautiously with digital communications due to the complexity of ensuring compliance. The stakes have grown even higher in the current regulatory climate, in which the SEC is levying heavy fines for violations. With testimonials and endorsements now allowed by the SEC’s new Marketing Rule, firms may not want to take on the burden of yet another type of content to review and approve prior to posting.
Yet, testimonials and endorsements have been demonstrated to not only bolster online presence but also to drive engagement. Websites with testimonials can increase sales page conversions by up to 34%. Additionally, research results show that 72% of consumers are spurred to action only after reading positive reviews.
If firms prohibit advisors from posting content like endorsements and testimonials, advisors may be more likely to leave, which can create harmful ripple effects throughout the firm. Aside from the potential loss of clients who follow their advisor elsewhere—and the reputational harm associated with losing talent—there are actual hard costs. It’s estimated that turnover can cost a firm anywhere from 50% to 200% of an advisor’s annual compensation. If a firm loses multiple team members, it’s not only disruptive, it’s expensive.
As just one way to help ward off the threat of departures, many firms are bulking up their compliance teams to better support advisors’ preferred communications strategies and practices. According to Hearsay’s 2022 Finserv Compliance Benchmark Report, “42% of respondents plan to further increase compliance staffing over the next 12 months.” But will this be enough to keep employees with their current firms?
Advisors will ultimately go to firms that offer them the best chance of building their client roster to generate personal income. One way to help ensure that advisors want to join or remain at your firm is to offer the ability to develop a robust, highly personalized and credible online presence coupled with modern compliant communications options. In tandem with this, you’ll want to make sure your processes, programs and technologies support a fully compliant risk-based approach for your communications strategies.
Firms that empower their advisors to succeed by opening up previously unavailable channels have the opportunity to differentiate themselves from competitors. As they meet and exceed the expectations of modern investors and advisors, they might not only be able to attract new talent but also usher in new business.