As advisers look to the year ahead, firms are largely focused on two strategic priorities: marketing and technology. And as they plot growth strategies for the year ahead, many appear focused on their existing client types, rather than expanding into new client segments.
The findings are part of a months-long research project between Transamerica and InvestmentNews Research exploring how adviser business practices have changed in a world shaped by politics and the pandemic. In the final installment of the project, advisers were asked several questions about how they will navigate 2021.
A positive for advisers heading into next year: Most expect growth. Fifty-five percent of advisers expect more new business in 2021 compared with the previous three years. Another 37% expect the same amount of new business.
The new business won’t come from new places, however. Most advisory firms are focused on growth coming from their core client type or client base. When asked what was most important to their growth in 2021, only 8% said “expanding into new client segments.” Far more advisors placed importance on adding clients similar to their existing base or growing wallet share among current clients.
Technology, Marketing Top List of Strategic Priorities in ‘21
Perhaps not surprising after the importance technology played in serving clients during a pandemic, technology enhancements continue to be a strategic goal for firms in 2021. When asked to list their top three goals for next year, improving the use of current technology and leveraging new technologies were among the most cited ambitions.
Marketing also remains a top strategic priority, with 34% of surveyed advisors listing “implementing a new marketing plan” as one of their top three goals for the year ahead.
Looking Back: What Advisers Learned from 2020
As advisers worked with clients in a year like no other in their careers, lessons centered on two key areas: client service and communication.
In an open-ended question, surveyed advisers were asked what the most important lesson was they learned last year. Based on an InvestmentNews Research analysis of the responses, lessons in client service and communication were the top areas where advisers revised their approach.
As some of the anonymous write-in answers showed, the lessons in communication varied. For some advisers, it meant communicating to keep clients on track.
“It’s extremely important that my clients stay focused on their long-term goals,” one adviser wrote. “Don’t lose your head over the stock market’s wide swings.”
For other advisers, lessons about client service focused on issues that transcended markets.
“My focus was wrong – I was not being a good advisor by just focusing on performance and hedging downside,” an adviser wrote.
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