Standing apart with distinctive services and an outcome focus
In the dynamic landscape of Australia’s financial advice industry, a significant shift is underway as advisers look for ways to offer a broader range of scaled and comprehensive advice services, profitably. This transition not only addresses clients’ varying financial advice needs, but also provides an opportunity for advisers to differentiate themselves through unique, outcome-focused services.
Last year Moneysoft published an article for Ensombl members – ‘Is engagement a reliable proxy for success’ – which examined the ways Advisers could create sustainable differentiation. In this second, follow-up article, we expand on technology’s role in enabling unique service capabilities and an outcome-focused approach, to create a competitive edge in the market.
The changing landscape
The regulatory environment and evolving client expectations have driven a changing landscape for financial advice in Australia. Reforms such as the Future of Financial Advice (FOFA), the Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority (FASEA) Code of Ethics and most recently the Quality of Advice Review (QAR) have encouraged advisers to broaden their offerings and deliver a more diverse range of advice-based services.
Today, the majority of clients seek advisers who can provide personalised guidance encompassing all aspects of their financial lives. This includes budgeting, debt management, retirement planning, tax optimization, estate planning, risk management, and more. Clients want a holistic approach that considers their entire financial picture, aligns with their goals, and helps them achieve desirable outcomes. And they want it consistently. to the challenge to advisers is how to meet these client needs in a way that is both scalable and profitable.
Comprehensive financial management – not comprehensive “advice”
By expanding the scope of services to encompass the totality of a client’s financial situation, advisers have the ability to monetise a broader range of services while providing a more holistic and personalized approach. This comprehensive financial management approach allows advisers to understand their client’s unique circumstances, goals, and aspirations in greater depth, helping create a foundation for loyalty.
Rather than solely focusing on investment or insurance solutions, this more comprehensive approach sees advisers assisting clients with strategies to effectively manage their cash flow, reach key financial milestones and achieve financial stability. They can provide guidance on debt management, helping clients minimise interest payments and develop strategies to become debt-free faster. Advisers can also offer retirement planning services that incorporate various factors such as projected expenses, retirement age, desired lifestyle, and potential income streams, ensuring clients are well-prepared for their golden years. In the context of a high interest-rate, high inflation cost of living crisis, advice around these areas can not only be of immediate value, it can also help stabilise the foundations on which longer term comprehensive financial plans rest.
By broadening the scope of their engagement, advisers can make a much more meaningful impact. This presents an opportunity to shift the nature of their proposition from services for hire, to outcomes on offer, which is ultimately what clients who engage advisers are seeking.
From selling features to delivering benefits
The old adage ‘features tell, benefits sell’ reminds us that no matter how advisers broaden their offering, the true shift is moving from delivering traditional solutions such as an SOA or review meetings, to a laser focus on outcomes.
An SOA (or its QAR approved replacement) is of course a critical part of the journey, but it is a mere step on that journey and ultimately of limited value if it doesn’t manifest into desired outcomes. Down the track, it is the outcomes and the experience your client will remember and judge you on, not the quality of your advice documentation.
The same goes for review meetings. Yes, alignment is critical, but these sessions are far too often a poor use of both parties’ resources. Advisers explain the technicalities of finance and perhaps even actions that have been undertaken since the last meeting. Clients, on the other hand, wait patiently for the ‘so what’ part of the meeting when they can discuss their portfolio growth, and more importantly, see the progress they have made towards their goals. Advisers are conscious of demonstrating their worth and clients are keen to see what their engagement yields them. If the two don’t meet, you can almost guarantee the client is asking themselves the question ‘What am I paying for…?’
Clients will never be excited about paying for a Statement of Advice, nor will they be excited about paying for “6 review meetings a year”. They will be excited about incremental income without having to go to work for it.
If a client is confident their adviser is focused on, and delivering outcomes, they would prefer their time spent on achieving those, not justifying their role.
What clients really value is availability, accessibility, and outcomes – which is where technology can play a major role.
Leveraging technology for differentiation
The role of technology in financial planning has traditionally been focused on improving the decision-making processes, optimising investment strategies, and providing more accurate advice to clients.
However, other advancements in fintech have opened doors to new opportunities for advisers to deliver a more outcome-focused approach.
Historically, the process of gathering, organising and analysing relevant financial information has resulted in an overfocus on the delivery of services and less focus on the intended and delivered outcomes. With the ability to leverage software that connects and tracks financial information across the full spectrum of a client’s financial picture, advisers can shift to an outcome-focused approach, signalling to their clients that they are more engaged in their overall financial well-being, not just investable assets.
Through real-time data and the ability to implement automated reporting and alerts, advisers can offer clients practical tools to mitigate overspending and even generate surplus cash for investment. A single-view portal can provide clients with a secure and convenient platform to also access their financial information, track progress towards their goals, and receive personalised recommendations. By giving clients access to their financial data and insights, advisers foster a stronger sense of engagement and collaboration, building trust and loyalty.
Importantly, liberating a client’s financial data should not just put the onus on the adviser, but rather, create a shared responsibility to both achieve the desired outcomes.
With a clearer picture of their financial universe, a responsibility sits with the client to
stick to budget, cash flow and surplus strategies, allowing advisers to help advance their financial position more effectively.
With the tools and efficiency to deliver an outcome-focused approach, financial advisers can further differentiate themselves by building strategic partnerships with a trusted network of professionals from related fields. Collaborating with tax accountants, lawyers, mortgage brokers, or insurance specialists allows advisers to offer comprehensive solutions that address clients’ multifaceted financial needs. These partnerships expand advisers’ network of expertise and resources, providing clients with access to a broader range of services and ensuring holistic financial management.
Look for technology that is designed to help you deliver your clients outcomes, engagement (with you) and accessibility to real-time information, giving you a competitive edge.
To access a free trial of Moneysoft PFM software, sign up here and one of our expert team will get you set up and ready to go.
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