The road ahead: SEI’s Womack shares practical tips for advisers keen to ensure a forward-thinking client proposition

by | Jan 29, 2024

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Road

It’s certainly an uncertain world out there for advisers. In this article for IFA Magazine, J. Womack, Global Head of Investment Solutions for SEI, shares his top tips on how and why reshaping your client experience is essential in 2024 for long term success

The financial advice landscape has become increasingly complex and difficult to navigate due to a number of factors, such as volatility, the sophistication of product choice, and tech advancements which are fuelling clients’ expectations. This represents a significant opportunity for advisers to tune into their clients’ needs and position themselves as the experts who can help them navigate this volatility and achieve their financial goals. 

 
 

The complex financial advice landscape has become increasingly difficult to navigate due to a number of factors, such as volatility, growth in the number of products and their complexity, and foundational technology advancements. With these things fueling investors’ expectations, it’s important for advisers to think about the opportunities and potential challenges that lie ahead. Adopting a forward-thinking approach can help advisers tune into investors’ needs and position themselves to drive growth—for their clients and their businesses.

Navigating market volatility

The impact of inflation and volatility is likely to prove a key challenge for many advisers and their clients. Combined with the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, this can continue to trigger emotional decision-making—and no matter their circumstances, investors will continue to demand more from their advisers. Keeping clients calm will be critical as the market continues to fluctuate over the next 12 months, but ensuring they’re aware of all options available to them will be equally important for advisers.

 
 

Maintaining regular communication is vital for advisers to understand whether their clients’ financial goals or circumstances have changed. It isn’t just about implementing a plan to ensure that clients’ long-term financial goals are met—it’s also about coaching clients towards better outcomes on an ongoing basis to ensure that they remain invested and on target with their ongoing contributions.

Searching for sophistication

The increase in investor wealth since the Global Financial Crisis, combined with market uncertainty driven by inflationary concerns and volatility, has led to a sophistication in the types of advice investors are looking for and has helped pave the way for the alternatives revolution. Organic growth among alternative funds nearly doubled over the last three years, and retail investors are now the fastest-growing segment of this market.[1] As we continue to face uncertain macroeconomic conditions, alternatives can be an ideal diversifier to combat increased volatility and uncertainty in the global interest rate environment.

 
 

In 2024, advisers have a key role to play in helping investors access alternatives to navigate current and future market conditions. Advisers must first educate themselves on the potential benefits of alternatives, and then communicate those learnings clearly to clients to ensure that they can remain invested and reap the potential benefits of portfolio diversification that can come with exposure to alternatives.

Harnessing technology

Emerging technologies are reshaping the financial advice landscape, and its momentum is only set to accelerate in 2024. Leveraging new capabilities like generative AI and decentralised cloud systems can simplify advisers’ workflow and enable operations that are more efficient so they can redirect their time towards revenue-generating activities.  

Technology applications that integrate with existing custody platforms allow for more meaningful personalised interactions and connections with clients. Not only can clients benefit from additional agency over their investments, but advisers can deliver more impactful data-driven client experiences. Offering more tailored, on-demand experiences supported by a strong technology infrastructure enables advisers to meet their clients when and where they want. The need for these experiences is critical to align with consumers’ preferences that are being shaped by highly personalised, on-demand interactions in traditional consumer businesses that are on the cutting edge of personalisation.

Financial advice is here to stay

Financial advice is evolving, but the need isn’t going away. Advisers will have new opportunities to demonstrate their value and nurture and expand client relationships. With rising operating costs and margins under pressure, adopting the right mix of technology, investment flexibility, and personalisation will be core to reshaping the investor experience in 2024.


[1] SEI, Evolving distribution models in alternative investments, August 10, 2023

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