Fostering growth will be top-of-mind for financial advisors in 2016, according to a recent report from SEI. The survey gathered responses from 484 financial advisors, who ranked their top New Year's resolutions in three main areas--investment strategies, technologies and practice management.
Advisors' top three priorities for 2016 were implementing goals-based investing, applying technology to increase workflows and efficiencies in their practices, and increasing the number of client referrals.
"Not surprisingly, advisors are focused on growing their businesses in 2016 and are particularly committed to helping clients grow their assets," said John Anderson, Director and Head of Practice Management Series, the SEI Advisor Network. ”However, it remains important to stay on top of ongoing market volatility and regulation, as they can potentially impact the way advisors counsel their clients and can detract focus from clients' personal goals."
Goals-based investment strategy
Interestingly, 80 percent of advisors resolve to make enhancements to their businesses by exploring managed volatility investment strategies, which more effectively weather ups and downs in the markets. However, when asked to rank the resolutions for 2016, the number one investment-enhancement priority for advisors is to implement a goals-based approach to investing for their clients.
"True goals-based investing is setting goals and tracking against them, which helps redefine how a client measures success. It moves away from traditional benchmarks and towards a more meaningful one -- progress toward specific client goals," said Anderson. "In 2016, advisors will be focused on ways to keep existing clients happier by implementing longer-term, client-specific goals, rather than setting goals depending on the market, which will continue to fluctuate."
Even though most advisors responded that "explore managed volatility investment strategies" is among their top three New Year's resolutions, this is only a second priority in 2016, followed by implementing more tactical or dynamic investment options for clients.
Using technology to increase workflows
In terms of enhancing their practices with the use of technology, 80 percent of advisors said they planned to implement automated workflows to increase efficiencies for their practices. As noted by Anderson, “Increasing efficiencies is an important and attainable resolution by leveraging technology to create automated workflows. Advisors can benefit from workflow implementation in many ways; beyond increasing efficiency, it makes employee training easier, improves time management and enhances the client experience."
Advisors were also interested in improving their social media profiles and customer relationship management (CRM) tools. Sixty-one percent plan to enhance their presence on LinkedIn and other social media sites. They also anticipate upgrading their client-facing websites, followed by offering video conferencing for client-review meetings, and adding new CRM tools to better track client contact information and account details.
Top practice-management resolution
With regard to practice growth, nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of advisors said they want to build their referral networks in 2016. Advisors ranked their top three practice-management priorities for the New Year as building referral networks, increasing contact with their clients through channels such as email marketing, events and social media, and expanding clients' awareness of additional services that they offer. Advisors are also resolved to conduct more outward-facing marketing activities (48 percent) in 2016.