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What Robo-Advisors Can Teach Us About Trust


What Robo-Advisors Can Teach Us About Trust

How can a robo-advisor build trust with investors. Let me share two examples of how I see robo-advisors doing a great job and how advisors can use this example to improve trust and the client experience.

In the recent US Presidential election, it is fair to say that there was some emotion involved. When investors were wondering what will happen to me, my investments and should I do anything, the response I saw from the investment community was about news, markets and data. I subscribe to several financial advisors newsletters and all talked about the market, looking outward.

Robo newsletters focuses on the clients goals

I also subscribe to robo-advisors newsletters, and a couple stood out for me because it focused inward, not outward. It did talk about market volatility but instead of focusing on un-controllable stuff, (stock markets, economies , oil and gas) their newsletter instead focused on keeping emotions out of investing, instead focus on your goals and planning and check your accounts online, to see your personal balances and speak to your advisor. All good insights at a time where the last thing that will bring trust is market commentaries from the past 48 hours. If I want news, I will turn on news. Advisors newsletters unfortunately drove me crazy because they were full of emotion. They did nothing to build trust. If you are distributing newsletters, email or any kind of communication, ask yourself one question, does this build trust with my ideal clients? Read it and if you are not sure of the answer, do not push the send button.

Start with goals

How many goals do you get from your clients? Besides the major retirement goal, do you get other clients goals such as family or parents healthcare, home renovations or changes, education, estate planning, gifts donations or charities? A typical advisor gets less than 3 goals while robo-advisors usually get 6 or more goals. Looking at the goals list below, how many goals can you personally check off?

Goals Based Planning Exercise

____ Lifestyle – Retire / slow down / part time
____ Debts- Debt reduction-debt free
____ Education – Children / Self
____ Vehicles – Cars / Boat / RV / collector
____ Major purchase – Vacation property / Lifetime Trip
____ Travel -Vacation property / Trips / bucket list
____ Health care – Family members / personal health
____ Home – Reno’s / Upgrades / downsizing
____ Celebrations- Weddings / birthdays
____ Estate- legacy- family-wishes
____ Gifts- donations / charitable involvement
____ Bequests – Philanthropic goals / legacy
____ Care for someone – elderly / family
____ Business – Investment / opportunity
____ Career – education / changes / courses
____ Memberships / Hobbies – golf or sports clubs / groups / collections

Whenever I share this list with advisors in my workshops, they usually add to the list. Go ahead, make it your list and put it in front of your clients and prospects and ask them this question” looking at this list, is there any goal that jumps out to you that you have been thinking about?”.

What data is missing?

I hate factfinders, they are painful and boring and are not engaging. Finding out their personal income by finding out more than one goal will help you gather the information. If you get more than 6 goals from a client, you are well on your way to gathering critical financial planning information. However, what sometimes missing in financial plans are life expectancy, personal health information including smoking, net worth and other assets or liabilities list such as business assets or liabilities, stock options and deferred compensation options. What risk data or software do you use and does it include insurance risks such as life and disability insurance, long term care needs and longevity risk along with market risk and inflation risk.

What do your clients expect?

While clients may feel confident in the value you deliver, and what they pay for the value, delivering more will eventually become commonplace. As Warren Buffet said” Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.”. What is a quality financial plan? What is the value of having a quality financial plan? How often do clients want their financial plans updated or discussed? These are great questions to ask your best clients who are paying thousands of dollars to you and your firm. Some advisors and clients do not see the value of having a quality financial plan. The days of drafting a large financial plan consisting of 30-50+ pages and then putting it on the shelf and never looked at again may be over.

What does a quality financial plan mean to you?

This is a great question to ask your ideal clients, your staff, your own family members and most importantly, yourself. Start by defining what a quality financial plan means to you. Is it comprehensive? Is it coordinated with other professionals? Clients want to know, am I going to be ok and meet my goals , and am I on track. Delivering these answers is not easy, however can become easier with a quality financial plan.

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