How to become an elite advisor of the future

Practice management expert says wealth professionals have to embrace the 'third dimension'

How to become an elite advisor of the future

The elite advisors of the future need to be three-dimensional and place greater emphasis on establishing an “emotionally compelling process”.

Grant Hicks, president and national director of Advisor Practice Management in Calgary, believes that most high-net-worth individuals and their wealth managers are living in a one-dimensional world, with the latter having convinced their client it’s all about portfolio performance.

With the market having gone up for years, it’s a relationship where both parties are happy with the value they are receiving. But Hicks said this is not a sustainable M.O. for advisors who want to grow their book and that they need to establish a more rounded practice.

Most good wealth managers will have the first dimension, which is focused on products and performance, covered, while the second dimension, comprehensive financial planning and advice, is becoming a central value proposition, especially for those offering a more holistic service.

The third dimension, however, is one which looks beyond numbers and account balances, and instead values the client’s emotions. Hicks highlighted a CEG Worldwide statistic that said 84% of the wealthy engage emotionally first and logicically second.

Hicks said: “Creating an emotionally compelling process is about client engagement. This is what the elite advisors of the future are doing compared to advisors who were successful in the past and are now struggling to grow because they are relying solely on relationships.

“Advisors who focus on products and performance, is that logic or emotion? Advisors that deliver comprehensive planning and advice, is that logic or emotion? Don’t get me wrong, products and performance are critically important and so is comprehensive planning and advice; you need this to be successful.

“But they are only one- and two-dimensional. Advisors who engage the third dimension among products and performance, and comprehensive planning and advice, are three dimensional. It's about a process. Do you have this engaging process? Do you have an emotionally compelling process that you are an expert in? Or do you wing it and try to build a relationship first or engage with logic first?”

The third dimension is something that heightens the numbers and facts. It could be something around the client’s hopes, dreams, legacy or family that gives them a deeper sense of clarity around their future. Hicks believes that putting these three dimensions together when building a practice is what will elevate an advisor when dealing with a client’s financial life, be it about tax, estate, risk, investments, insurance, debt or cash flow.

Hicks explained: “Steve Jobs’ essay on his deathbed entitled The World’s Six Best Doctors is a must-read for anyone understanding the wealthy. He said: ‘Treasure love for your family, love for your spouse, love for your friends. Treat yourself well and cherish others. As we grow older, and hopefully wiser, we realize that a $300 or a $30 watch both tell the same time. You will realize that your true inner happiness does not come from the material things of this world. Whether you fly first class or economy, if the plane goes down - you go down with it’.