Tech Means More Than Time Back

A Look at the Changing Role of Planners

Next Generation Planner: March 2021


Mike Kerins, CFA, FRM
Founder and CEO, RobustWealth

We’ve heard over and over that wealth technology will free up our time. Many planners are already seeing this come to fruition in their daily work by way of trading software and digital signature capabilities, for example. These tools are launched and adapted at such a rapid pace that we often forget to take a step back and look at the big picture.

Broadly speaking, your tasks as a planner are becoming increasingly consolidated. You’re leaning on model portfolios instead of crafting everything from scratch, and clients can facilitate much of their own onboarding independently online, whereas before you might have collected this information manually. Technology will continue to take on whatever it can, so you have more client-facing time.

While these changes are certainly welcome to improve day-to-day workflow, it’s important to recognize that, as a result, seismic shifts are happening to the actual job function of a planner. 

Here are two key trends next-generation planners should keep an eye on:

(1) Overall Financial Well-Being Will Take Center Stage

As I mentioned in one of my previous FPA Practice Management Blog articles, “Planners: Get Ready for These 3 Changes Post-Pandemic,” gone are the days where investment management alone is a value-add. In 10 or 15 years, the role of the planner will likely look very similar to a life coach. There are so many aspects of life that feed into your financial picture that it’s impossible to solve it all with a single investment management solution. To deliver a truly comprehensive plan, you’ll probably have your hands on all kinds of information, from your clients’ health to how they’re utilizing employee benefits. The pandemic has reinforced the importance of client service coupled with comprehensive advice and, ultimately, delivering it in a highly personalized way.

(2) You’ll Expand the Types of Goals You Provide Advice on

As a professional planner, your purpose is to simplify someone’s finances and help them reach key goals. Typically, these include saving for retirement, buying or selling a house and financing a child’s college education. Once these goals have been met, what else can you help them accomplish?

Many life goals, in one way or another, have some sort of financial component. Adopting a healthier lifestyle, for example, might not sound like something you’d cover, yet there are financial hurdles your client will need to tackle in the process. Budgeting to help someone afford a fitness plan or healthy meal options might seem like small potatoes compared to financing a successful retirement, but showing your clients you can help with more than just asset allocation will make your relationships “stickier.” Goals-driven planning experiences are already taking center stage in adviser technology, and future systems will follow this format even more so.

The financial adviser of the future is going to be a complex professional, acting more like a personal CFO for clients. Future planners will find success by fully embracing the digital transformation that is reshaping the industry. As we look to the future of wealth management, don’t discount the ways technology will enable you to surprise and delight your clients.

Practice Management
Career stage
Learning / Aspiring