Wealthtech: Elevating the Art of Engagement With the Science of Technology

Author: Derek Bruton, Senior Managing Director, Gladstone Group, Inc.

Advisor and firm owners have become laser focused on M&A-base growth, forcing them to spend so much time and energy interpreting headwinds, market trends and Fed prognostications that they often ignore the tried-and-true method of capturing assets through organic growth.

It’s a business-building methodology that never goes out of style.

Indeed, RIAs have enjoyed a good amount of success in the area: according to the InvestmentNews annual Adviser Benchmarking Study, over the past three years, organic growth has represented, on average, over 41% of RIA asset growth.

Whether the goal is to gain wallet share from existing clients or attract the assets of new ones – ideally, it’s a combination of the two – pursuing a strategy of organic growth remains the traditional, albeit time-consuming, means of expanding your footprint. What’s exciting right now are the advancements in wealthtech that can help financial advisors scale their businesses, build efficiencies and engage existing and prospective clients. That’s assuming you leverage the best platform for your needs and integrate its offerings with your existing resources properly.

In an ecosystem of expanding wealthtech options, choosing the best partners/solutions amounts to more than picking the right technology. The cost, customization potential, efficiencies and client support offered by the third-party provider are just as important.

To learn more about how firms and advisors are leveraging third-party wealthtech solutions, Gladstone Group, Inc. asked three industry leaders for their boots-on-the-ground insights regarding the intersection of wealthtech and organic growth:

  • Mike Thurman, Co-Founder of White Glove, an advisor marketing company specializing in turnkey client acquisition and engagement services including seminars, webinars, workshops, social impression management, podcasts, and other digital media.
  • Rob Crnkovic, Co-Founder and CRO at CapIntel, an investment sales platform for wealth enterprises and professionals that enables advisors to leverage more transparent information and smarter systems to provide better service to their clients.
  • Bryan Keller, Chief Strategic Officer at Dakota Wealth Management, an independent investment management, wealth and estate planning, and full-service tax planning firm serving high-net-worth individuals, families, and institutions.

The Marketing Mindset

Derek Bruton, Senior Managing Director, Gladstone Group: How effective are in-person financial advisor educational events as a vehicle for driving and closing client leads since the pandemic ended – and what should financial advisors do in terms of social media and other digital marketing activities to support such events and ensure they are getting the most lead-gen out of each one?”

Mike Thurman, Co-Founder of White Glove: The pandemic affected both our physical and financial health, which has contributed to a significant demand for financial education, especially when you factor in persistent inflation, rising interest rates, a recent banking crisis and the threat of recession. Consumers are looking for guidance, which presents a perfect opportunity for financial advisors to connect with prospective clients in person. Now is a great time to alleviate their financial fears and create a solid financial plan.

People have a strong desire for human connection, which is a critical factor in a solid advisor-client relationship. Finances can be an emotional and personal topic, so it’s important that clients have confidence in their advisors and have an opportunity to determine if there is a personality fit before engaging in a relationship. In-person meetings can provide a low-pressure, non-threatening platform for consumers to meet and vet a potential financial advisor.

But advisors should not stop there. An engagement campaign and a digital presence are necessary to convert prospects and retain current clients. It could be as simple as social media postings, an automated newsletter and drip campaigns. Digital marketing providers can help with each step. Some, like White Glove, will even provide a dedicated account manager for guidance.

The Personalized Proposal

Derek Bruton: What are the key features of a successful proposal from financial advisors for prospective clients who prioritize investment management services as part of the engagement? And what are the biggest obstacles for financial advisors seeking to both scale and personalize proposals for prospective clients today?

Rob Crnkovic, Co-Founder and CRO at CapIntel: In a proprietary research study with Vivaldi, we found that 81% of investors agreed that proposals strongly impact a client’s investment decisions. A proposal is the first step in building a trusted client-advisor relationship and instill confidence. How do you build confidence, which helps investors feel more comfortable making investment decisions? Education, personalization and communication.

With the digital revolution, investors have become accustomed to personalized services in every aspect of their lives. How much time, capital and effort goes into developing a personalized, holistic and data-driven – yet easy-to-understand – proposal is a critical factor for advisors considering the return on developing such a proposal.

For years, a proposal was either customizable or data driven, due to the lack of readily available technology that could utilize data in support a client’s investment strategy. And even as the technology improved, solutions were often rigid and expensive.

Automating this process using an intuitive platform to deliver turnkey client proposals and presentations with comprehensive, customized and accurate data will enable firms and advisors to scale their pitching process, especially for investors who prioritize investment management.

If advisors want to scale their approach across their client base and potential channels, they will need a platform with flexible features that meet the diverse needs of these client segments, whether they are high-net-worth, mass affluent, or are captive employees.

Wealth management remains a relationship business based on feelings, personalities and reputation. In the end, the proposal is just one tool the advisor can use to drive growth within that context. Yet, the sharper that tool, the easier it is to use.

The Best of Both Worlds

Derek Bruton, Senior Managing Director, Gladstone Group: “There has been a continued proliferation of third-party and proprietary solutions, including tech-enabled tools and strategies, that purport to help financial advisors identify and convert prospects into client relationships. What resources and expertise do you provide to financial advisors to support client relationship expansion and development, and how do you curate third-party solutions versus leveraging proprietary resources in this area of your business?”

Bryan Keller, Chief Strategic Officer at Dakota Wealth Management: At Dakota Wealth, we’re big believers that technology capabilities alone won’t drive the delivery of holistic planning services that appeal to new clients while enhancing wallet share opportunities. In our experience, it’s all about the combination of customized technology solutions with our unique in-house expertise that enables the delivery of holistic planning services which clients increasingly demand.

For example, Dakota’s professional team includes in-house tax compliance experts who assist advisors in navigating complex tax planning, ensuring clients remain compliant while maximizing tax efficiency. Additionally, through its affiliated law firm, Dakota Wealth provides advisors access to specialized professionals with expertise in estate planning, intergenerational wealth transfer, as well as the financial implications of divorce and the complexities of divorce planning. This includes assistance with asset division, alimony, child support, and financial restructuring during challenging life transitions.

Within this context, technology-enabled client prospecting and engagement solutions delivered by third-party providers are crucial tools. Through what we call our “entrepreneurial autonomy” operating environment, we empower financial advisors to develop a personal identify within the greater Dakota brand, and craft a service offering that best match and amplifies their geographic footprint and client engagement opportunities. Furthermore, in order to maximize the ability of our financial advisors to service clients they have won, Dakota enables advisors to utilize technology tools such as online portals, asset aggregation tools, retirement plan management, tax planning and projection, mobile applications, social media and communication platforms, and multi-custodian trading and reporting platforms.

When the technology, the service experience and the expertise align closely, you are maximizing opportunities for the financial advisor to more effectively market their business, support their firms and, most importantly, serve their clients well.

The Wealthtech Win-Win

Deploying innovative wealthtech to attract, retain and grow client assets continues to be front of mind for ambitious advisors and the firms that support them. Financial advisors are in the relationship business as well as the solutions business; long-term organic growth requires a nod to both. It all comes down to a personalized, positive and productive client experience. Selecting the right technologies to support your efforts, backed by a firm that provides high-level, personalized service to create scale and build efficiencies is central to every advisor’s organic growth efforts.

Depending on your firm and circumstances, options include leveraging third-party platforms to deliver white label products or outsourcing everything to a wealthtech firm. A combination of the two is most likely to deliver the results you are looking for. Assuming, of course, you’ve chosen the right third-party provider to address your needs.