Are You Future Ready? A Panel of Experts Provides Some Big Ideas

A unique characteristic about the RIA community, and one I admire most , is the collective thought leadership voice that provides continuing guidance and direction.

I was reminded of this fact while attending a recent Fidelity Inside Track conference panel with 5 prominent industry experts who discussed the topic of ‘ Looking Forward: Insights on Creating Future-Ready Firms’. This 1-hour session delivered unique perspective on what these model firms will looks like, and the best practices that firms can consider adopting to enhance their growth in the coming years.

Moderator by David Canter, Executive Vice President, Practice Management and Consulting, Fidelity Investments , here’s the abridged summary of the takeaways:

Understand the DOL Fiduciary Rule – Own it, embrace it, use it as opportunity to cement the fiduciary duty within your firms.

Advocate a Fiduciary Culture – You can’t just ‘talk the talk’, you need to ‘walk the walk’ Your internal practices need to match the values of putting clients first.

--Karen Barr, Karen Barr, President, Chief Executive Officer, Investment Adviser Association

Be clear about your value proposition – Financial planning can be presented as a real differentiator, especially when leveraged with technology.

Focus on the client experience – Technology presents a big opportunity for advisors to up their game, especially with digital advice. Everybody needs to get on board.

--Joel Bruckenstein, CFP, Publisher, T3 Tech Hub

Adjust your methods – Internal staff training has to be looked at in a new and different way to groom the next generation of employees.

Speak to everyone – There’s a unique crossing of younger tech savvy employees and older clients who are used to using traditional forms of communication. The challenge is to make sure everyone’s voice is heard.

--Beverly Flaxington, Industry Professional and Coach, The Human Behavior Coach ®

Expand your perspective – Discern from what’s right in front of you with the client and what’s further down the road. With every change, there are ramifications and opportunities.

Fears are often misplaced – We’re often following the bouncing ball; automated advice, social media, DOL Fiduciary Rule. What’s tripping up advisors are real liabilities and risk. Spend time with staff, so they really understand what’s important and urgent.

--Brian Hamburger, Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer, MarketCounsel

Leaders need to develop future leaders – Because firms are growing at such a rapid pace, today’s CEOs need to look toward those who share a common vision and passion for the firm’s culture. You cannot be successful in this business without people.

Pay attention to the super ensembles – these emerging firms are setting the standards for the industry on everything from talent, partnership, and clients service.

--Philip Palaveev, Owner and Chief Executive Officer, The Ensemble Practice LLC

The big takeaway – Firms that will be best prepared for the future are those that not only have an eye towards the future but an actionable plan, from growth to succession and everthing thing in between, to take them there.

In my next article, I’ll share some key insights on marketing and business development and what can be learned from some leading RIAs highlighted in Fidelity’s Be Greater: Why Being Good Enough Is No Longer An Option - Volume 2 book.