In today's Internet age, where so much information is at everyone's fingertips, financial advisors must be true knowledge workers. This requires having a wealth of understanding about a wide variety of issues, but being able to filter out the noise. It also requires being able to coherently communicate to clients the information that is relevant to them — especially now that so many of them need to put a portfolio recovery strategy in place.
A lot of financial advisors aren't doing this yet. (See “Client Recovery Strategy” table, below). In fact, nearly two-thirds of solo practitioners do not have a recovery strategy that they can communicate with confidence to their affluent clients. This suggests that the majority of financial advisors are not the knowledge workers the affluent need and want. Instead, they are depending on their firms to provide investing and planning expertise. But today's affluent generally think that trusting the firms for expertise is what got everyone into trouble in the first place.
Do your clients trust you to provide them with good information? Only 39 percent rate their financial advisors as accurate or highly accurate information sources. (See “Most Accurate Information Source,” at top, right.) But they do trust you more than they trust friends, colleagues, and the media. Financial advisors have an edge, but if it is going to work in your favor, you have to make sure you know what you are talking about. The only way to do this is to become a life-long learner.
How do you become a life-long learner? Here is a four step plan:
- Make a personal commitment
Set aside time every day specifically for this task. Early in the morning and late in the evening often work best.
- Expand your sources of information
Read newspapers, magazines and journals that you ordinarily don't read. Take a few minutes now and order them online.
- Take a series of workshops, sign up for continuing education classes, or engage in a proactive coaching relationship
There's a lot to be learned from the experts/specialists in your field.
- Begin reading non-fiction books - set a goal to read one book a month
There's no better way to broaden your knowledge base.
I recognize this is not for the lazy, but your brain is no different than your body, it needs exercise to stay in shape. Being a life-long learner will do wonders for your mental health, in addition to helping you become a new world advisor.
Matt Oechsli is author of Building a Successful 21st Century Financial Practice: Attracting, Servicing & Retaining Affluent Clients. oechsli.com