COVID-19 wreaks havoc with advisor books globally

By Janice Roberts
Editor
Derek Gardiner

Financial advisors urged to adapt to survive

As the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown forces the globe into an immediate and extreme digital age, financial advisors need to urgently adjust their models if they want to survive.

This is according to Derek Gardiner, Chief Executive at business intelligence software specialist, Seed Analytics, who explains that the catapult into forced remote digital working models, as well as the health impacts on the top fee demographic of their books poses a double threat for financial advisors.

“While some advisories may have started to embrace technology to begin building a younger book and a business continuity pipeline, we believe the shift has been gradual and measured,” explains Gardiner. He says that tech adoption has largely been around the product selection portion of the advice process such as on-the-go (or mobile) quote systems. Marketing and client relationship functions as well as value generation, he believes, have largely remained based on traditional face-to-face methods. “COVID-19 has and will continue to put a stop to this for some time. Relationship building and value generation will quickly have to move online and advisors who execute this rapidly and effectively will survive and prosper in a post-Covid-19 world,” says Gardiner.  

The other challenge Gardiner highlights is that the virus, due to its very nature, poses the biggest threat to the top fee demographic of most advisory books. “Older people have sadly seen the most fatalities as a result of COVID-19. While this is tragic in itself, it also has a significant impact on the client base for many advisors as these people tend to be the biggest fee-generating portion of the book”.  

The solution, Gardiner explains, lies in building an effective brand to maintain any inherited wealth on the book. But how do advisors do this at arm’s length from customers, via a digital-only interface? He believes in seeing the advisory practice as a digital brand.

“A digital brand has to have two things – meaningful, frequent contact with customers and promotion of the brand through value generation,” says Gardiner.

He explains that this goes beyond ensuring branding is on email signatures and calling and emailing clients more regularly – “it means that when advisors do make contact it’s in a way that adds value to the client by giving them something they need and ensuring that whatever that is, is branded correctly.

Gardiner uses the example of tech-smart, consolidated portfolio statements. “Seed Analytics provides advisors with consolidated investment accounts across over 100 investment platforms and a unified statement to display these. The statement is branded in the advisor’s logo and brand colours and emailed to a portfolio of family and other stakeholders,” says Gardiner.  

Consolidated book reports also give advisors a detailed breakdown to account and allocation level of all their portfolios across their book. “Using tech in a smart way like this allows brokers to isolate risks and generate accurate digital marketing strategies which are critical to reaching your audience during a time of lockdown and distance,” concludes Gardiner.

Visit the official COVID-19 government website to stay informed: sacoronavirus.co.za