With competition increasing and regulations tightening, advisors are being forced to find ways to differentiate themselves from the crowd. The terms ‘holistic’ and ‘full-service’ have become popular in modern parlance as advisors try to up their offerings.
But advisor Robert Roby thinks advisors should be doing more; he thinks all planners should be acting as their clients’ personal CFO.
“Being your clients’ CFO means providing a consultative practice,” Roby says. “I realized a long time ago that you can’t be everything to everybody, it doesn’t matter how many degrees you have. The reality is that to provide top shelf services to clients you’ll have to reach out to experts in areas like estate planning, accounting and insurance.”
In utilizing third party specialists, Roby believes advisors are better positioned to meet each client’s specific needs and provide a layer of advice that many of their peers cannot. Within his own firm, Roby has recently launched a new healthcare assistance service and hired a specialist for the role.
“It means we’re able to take care of our clients’ and their families’ needs when it comes to nursing and retirement homes by wading through all of the complexities,” Roby says. “Look at it like being the hub of many spokes around the wheel. Advisors should facilitate a client’s creation of meaningful wealth and also solve issues that come up as they go through the transitions of life.”
There are two key elements that will help a modern advisor to achieve success, Roby says: remaining (or becoming) independent and getting fully licensed. “An MFDA license is like defaulting your investment advice to mutual fund managers,” Roby says. “There is so much more available out there and having a full securities license opens the doors to being able to provide products and services that will put you above the crowd, be it ETFs or individual stocks. You have to be an expert in those areas.”
Developing a well thought-out and researched investment philosophy, and then sticking to it, is also essential for advisors who want to stand out from the crowd. “The philosophy has to be yours and be based on what you bring to the table as a human being,” Roby says. “At the end of the day, people will always remember how you make them feel. They may not always remember what you say, and that is the critical element to remember.”
Forging a niche with high-net-worth clients