You don’t have to look very closely to notice that we’re in the middle of an information revolution. Just 20 or 30 years ago, big media outlets created content and we had to wait for it to come to us.
But the Internet and companies like Google have changed all of that. We’re no longer in the Information Age, but rather what I would call the Participation Age. Two-way communication and content co-creation are a part of life, thanks to social media and interactive technology. We don’t just passively watch, we participate.
And this change is happening in the financial services industry as well. The old days, where people needed brokers to access investment offerings and when clients may have had little information and little choice, are pretty much gone. We went from an age of brokers and investments, then through an era of strictly financial planning and asset allocation models, and now we’ve entered an age of collaborative guidance.
So what does this mean, exactly?
It means that the role of the financial advisor is once again changing. Technology has advanced to the point where simple investing and planning are no longer relevant to the way people do business – they want instant access to information and advice, and more control over their financial lives. They want their advisor to be present on their mobile devices and to be able to interact with them to provide guidance on demand.
Think about it – when you want to know what’s going on in the world, you don’t wait for tomorrow’s newspaper to arrive at your doorstep. It’s right there at your fingertips. You can even interact with live television broadcasts simply by posting on Twitter or Facebook. It’s an era of participation, and we as financial advisors need to be there for you on demand, when you need us the most.
This means that the advice and guidance given by an advisor has to provide clarity, and it must be understandable, relevant to you, and collaborative. Investments have to be broader in scope, with multiple strategies that are tailored to meet your individual needs. Companies like Google and subscription-model businesses like Netflix are thriving because they empower consumers every day; and we, as financial advisors, must do the same for our clients.
Yep – the landscape is changing. What’s it going to look like in the next twelve months? Stay tuned.