The LibertyFi team is constantly thinking ahead and planning for the future. The trickle-down effect means that the trends we are seeing will not only help us but also the advisors we serve and their clients. Here’s what we see happening over the next 12 months.
Doing More with Less
It feels like yesterday we were talking about trends for 2021, and yet, here we are again predicting another year of opportunity. Last year, I felt we would continue to see a rise in advisor acquisition and movement, and we saw the most activity ever. I know that will continue into 2022, so firms, custodians, technology providers, and service-oriented companies need to be ready.
It felt like last year we had to do more in less time as the demands of home life, clients, colleagues, and partners increased. As consolidation in the industry continues, we need to prepare to do more with less. The focus will be to increase productivity. Companies that can deliver more value for clients while managing costs will continue to succeed. Alli Jordan
FA Opportunities, Fintech, and Alternative Investing: The NEW Financial Advisor
Opportunities in the RIA and fintech space are going to increase in 2022. Because wirehouses often limit what their advisors can do, advisors will continue to break away, and M&A activity will increase through 2023. Using technology, advisors can build their businesses and serve their clients more efficiently than they can at a large firm. Advisors can use technology to outsource day-to-day operations, which allows them to spend more time working with clients. With a wealth tech platform, independent advisors can open investment accounts, provide loans, offer insurance, write financial plans, and offer alternative investments to their clients. As advisors continue to expand their service offerings, clients will increasingly rely on them to secure their financial future. Davis Priester
Meeting Evolving Client Expectations
As we enter 2022, I believe that we will continue to see movement in the industry similar to what we witnessed over the past two years — the continuing trend of advisors breaking away from large firms and moving into the independent space. Investor expectations have changed: they want more control and more holistic views of their investments. They’re searching for advisors who can provide them with that level of service. For our team at LibertyFi, we expect to see more opportunities to help new partners in the RIA space. We will also have the opportunity to educate our advisors on the range of offerings available from the Envestnet platform. Adair Moody
Managing an SEC Audit
In 2022, I expect to see a rise in the SEC’s focus on recently formed RIAs. This was a trend we noticed in 2021, and I expect it to accelerate this year. Firms that are well-positioned with a one-stop-shop technology stack will have the easiest time navigating an audit. Firms that can pull clean data from a single source like Envestnet have a much better experience than those manually piecing together data from multiple reports and providers. Most new firms will undergo an audit within the first 18 months of formation. Firms that are able to provide the auditors with clean data sets are able to eliminate a lot of the back and forth and follow-up questions that can seem endless when data is incomplete or inconsistent. Firms that are well-positioned with their data will be able to confidently handle audits and compliance questions when they pop up, one less thing they will have to worry about in 2022. Thomas Reid
Demonstrating Advisor Value to Younger Investors
Competition between advisors is increasing as the number of RIAs grows and their access to better technology and offerings makes it easier for them to break away from the traditional Broker-Dealer model. New trading platforms offer investors little to no fees and simpler processes, so advisors feel the pressure to be price and fee-conscious. They are challenged to prove their value and justify their costs to a generation that doesn’t love fees. Where financial advisors can differentiate themselves and demonstrate their value is by talking clients through various scenarios, sharing their expertise, helping clients manage their taxes, and looking at clients’ entire financial pictures. In 2022, advisors will have to prove their worth while keeping fees at levels that clients are willing to pay. Caroline Corso
Increasing Productivity and Improving Results for Clients
Over the past two years, financial advisors have learned that working for a large firm with company-provided technology and support is no longer necessary for client success. By working directly with good partners who can assemble the best technology and investment offerings (among other things), advisors can increase productivity and improve results for both their clients and themselves. As more advisors break away in 2022, others will become curious about their peers’ experiences and will begin to explore the opportunities of breaking away. John Brooks
Succeeding in the Involuntary Tech Revolution
Relentless Covid-related challenges over the past two years have accelerated the so-called “Involuntary Tech Revolution,” leading clients to become far more self-sufficient in taking care of their business online. We hear more and more from our RIA partners that their clients have crossed the digital divide (either with or without them!) and have even higher expectations for sharing research, analysis, advice, flexible reporting, and service on demand through digital collaboration and self-help.
We have supported Envestnet as they continue to maintain a significant lead in evolving the client portal into an interactive, user-friendly workspace for advisors and clients. Our LFI team was recently invited to beta test the next generation of the Envestnet Client Portal. We are excited about the configuration enhancements and new tools built-in as part of Envestnet’s Intelligent Financial Life campaign. Consequently, we are stepping up our focus and training time to help advisors capitalize on these “built-in” client servicing advantages. It just makes sense! Trey Ruch