We believe that the advisor/client relationship is undergoing a fundamental transformation in wealth management. In the old model, clients were expected to rely heavily on their financial advisors’ investment acumen, trusting that the advisor was doing all that was possible and necessary to further clients’ interests. Now the market is more informed, more engaged and, particularly after the financial crisis, less willing to relinquish complete control of their financial well-being than before. As a result, a new relationship paradigm is gaining traction.
This new relationship, we believe, is best defined as collaborative. Advisors are required to continually prove themselves as experts and objective advocates for the needs of the client. Clients are taking on the responsibility of informed oversight and committed engagement and acting as knowledgeable participants in maximizing their financial well-being. The focus on collaboration has profound implications for client communications. The relative opacity of traditional reporting has given way to greater:
Transparency: The investment process, vehicles, benchmarks and goals must be clearly explained and reported and must be defensible in the context of other available information.
Availability: Client information needs to be current and accessible whenever, in whatever form and through whatever medium the client needs/wants it.
Interactivity: Client communications/reporting needs to be interactive, allowing investors to be proactively involved in their own wealth management process.
Frequency: Client engagement requires frequent and meaningful communications, both in terms of the investment process and the advisors’ ongoing added value.
Overall, the advisor/client relationship is becoming richer and, in some regards closer, with more opportunities for advisors to engage clients. But the burden on advisors to build a robust and impactful communications program has never been greater.