The challenges of 2020 forced some RIAs to rethink how technology could serve their business models, while tech-savvy advisors seemed to continue working with clients without missing a beat. In part 2 of this blog series, Davis, John, and Thomas share their insights on last year and trends they are following in 2021. To read part 1, click here.
2020 was a challenging year for lots of small businesses. At LibertyFi, it taught us that to succeed you need to be flexible and wear lots of different hats. Many firms had to figure out how to collaborate with coworkers remotely to minimize disruption to clients. The companies that figured it out early were set up for success during the lockdowns.
During the quarantine, I kept busy in a few different ways. As a sports fan, I was glad that various leagues were active. It was like a bit of normal life during all the challenges we faced. When I had time, I was able to go outside and play golf with friends and take walks with my family and our dog. I also got to spent time in the kitchen cooking and baking and trying out different recipes.
One of my goals for 2021 is to find new ways to increase our efficiency by communicating and standardizing best practices across the team. Training and communication are so important to a team’s success, and I want to make sure we stay on the same page despite working remotely.
Breaking away is an important trend that will continue in 2021. The pandemic didn’t slow it down in 2020, so I expect we’ll continue to see new RIAs entering the market. Advisors who want to grow will look more closely at outsourcing to scale their practices, whether it’s middle- and back-office, OCIO, or other services. Another outsourcing driver is that a lot of independent advisors coming from wirehouses haven’t had to run a business before. They’ve had IT teams and investment managers to help them. By outsourcing, they can focus on enhancing their current client relationships and growing their new businesses.
With everything that happened in 2020, the biggest takeaway for me is that there is no “normal.” The pandemic and technology just accelerated the change that we were already experiencing. People talk about the “new normal,” but I think that things will continue to change, and the pace of change will accelerate. Adaptability will be an important skill. My resolution for 2021 is to make sure that I remain adaptable as the pandemic, economy, and technology will continue to change the way we interact professionally and personally.
Our new house has kept me busy. We closed in March 2020 and were actually the moving company’s last house before everything was shut down. So, I have been working on a lot of home improvement projects, including updating a bathroom and painting every room in the house. These projects give me the excuse I need to go to the home improvement store. We’ve also spent a lot of time with family down at the Gulf Coast, which is a great way to get out of the same four walls.
For 2021, our team has noticed a change in the ways that advisors interact with clients. 2020 taught a lot of us that you don’t need to meet with people face to face to be productive. Self-service digital tools like the Envestnet client portal can help clients help themselves and free up advisors to concentrate on more value-added activities. I think digital tools have improved the client experience.
In 2020, I was really impressed with how adaptable our clients have been. For everyone, it was a big shift to work from home and rely more on technology to serve clients. Most of our firms were already comfortable with this and felt like they didn’t miss a beat because they had the technology in place.
One thing I learned personally is that I really appreciate teachers and their hard work now more than ever. We have twin four-year olds, and balancing work, home, and education with my wife was challenging and fun at the same time, but we were so thankful to get them back at school and in a routine.
To stay busy during quarantine, we spent a lot of time outside, walking our dogs and playing with the kids. We did a few landscaping projects, small and large, like planting trees and flowers as a fun way to be productive and enjoy being outside together.
My resolution for the new year is to stay informed without being overwhelmed by the news. It can be easy to get too much news. I don’t feel the need to know what’s happening moment by moment in 2021 nearly as much as 2020.
An important trend I see is that advisors will continue to work with clients virtually. I don’t think that’s going away after the pandemic ends. Advisors and clients are both finding it more convenient to work together via video chat. Screensharing with their clients through the Envestnet client portal is a great way to provide added value and guide client conversations. Advisors have realized they don’t have to meet in person to have a productive meeting. The RIAs that have embraced and enhanced their technology offerings to clients are the ones that will continue to thrive post pandemic. I think this will trickle into real estate decisions as RIAs realize they don’t need such large office, expensive office spaces.
As you make your business plans for 2021, remember that LibertyFi has the experience and expertise to streamline operations by managing and configuring your firm’s wealth management technology.
For more information, contact Alli Jordan.