The Four Ways to Begin Transforming From a Financial Advisor to a Bionic Advisor Today!

by Jonathan Bega

The Hypothetical Playbook for a #Bionic Advisor

So, I’ve written at length about the bionic advisor and how the future will be bionic. To date, I have kept the conversation somewhat abstract. However, I thought it would be interesting to tackle what a currently licensed financial advisor could do to become closer to bionic. Not in ten years, not in five years, but today.

My methods were simple. First, I surveyed the existing technology ecosystem. My goal? Find the tools that a financial advisor, with a focus on insurance, would need to transform him or herself into a #bionic advisor. This would include CRMs, such as Finaeo, but also other tools to help you deal with the needs of an assortment of clients.

In the end, there were four key technologies I focused on that could turn an advisor bionic – not in ten years, not in five years, but today:

  1. Enlist the help of robo-wealth services
  2. Using technology to set up group benefits
  3. Automating your marketing
  4. Tying it all together with a verticalized CRM

So if you’re interested in how to digitize your practice today, look no further!

Enlist the Help of Robo-Wealth Services

So where do we start? Well, if your focus is on insurance, you need to understand that a bionic advisor is going to be a more holistic advisor. You will be there for your client’s risk profile, for sure, but you’ll also need to help them think about their cash flow, their budget, and how to protect their wealth. Now, I’m not saying that you need to get your CFP (though that’s not necessarily a bad idea either). What I am saying is that you need to start thinking about where you should enlist technological help to make sure your clients are being serviced best.

So I’ll get my MFDA, you’re thinking.

Well, sure, that’s certainly one thing you can do. However, this is a sensitive area in Canadian finance. With the advent of ETFs, mutual funds are often not the right answer for your client. They have their uses, but for a simple index fund that is rebalanced automatically, the management fee often doesn’t make sense. The skyrocketing growth of ETFs over the last decade (from less than $1T to $4T in assets under management) demonstrates that the market is hungry for different investment classes. Hell, post-2008, young people don’t trust banks, and millennials would rather invest their money into Bitcoin. The traditional ways of wealth management that financial advisors have worked on is transforming – and a bionic advisor shouldn’t be left behind.

The financial advisor of the future will need to face clients who want alternative asset classes, know about ETFs (as well as cryptocurrencies), and are trying to take control of their financial futures. As such, a new era of investment advice will have to come into existence. Luckily, the beginnings of this has already been fermenting for the past few years. Look no further than robo-advisors who are reaching out to financial advisors to distribute on their behalf. You have your big dog, WealthSimple, doing it through their broker partnerships, but we’re also seeing smaller companies begin to go direct to advisors. For example, Justwealth has been working almost entirely through advisor partnerships. They provide advisors and mutual fund dealers with the toolset to easily access and purchase ETFs on behalf of their clients, instead of being limited to just mutual funds. More choice is always a plus, and a lower rate ETF may be exactly what your client needs to better protect his or her wealth.

Moreover, these new tools tend to provide much higher value to the client aside from just the higher ROI. For example, newer robo-advisor platforms provide beautiful dashboards for your clients that give them a direct view of their assets, growth, and expectations. It lets them feel much more involved than just receiving a quarterly report, or logging into an ancient looking client platform. Plus, much of this will be built directly into a verticalized CRM (more on this below). That means opening a new account for a client can be as simple as two clicks, with your CRM grabbing data from your FNA to pre-populate much of the application process. No pen and paper, no lengthy processes and endless meetings. The bionic advisor of the future gets things done fast.

Tl;dr: Step 1 – get set up on a wealth management system working with financial advisors.

Using Technology to Set Up Group Benefits

Okay, so you’ve got wealth covered. Next up, group benefits. This targets two groups of people. First off, you may be the individual advisor who occasionally works with a business owner. One minute, you’re talking life, DI, and RRSPs, and the next moment she’s asking you about setting up a group policy for her employees. Conversely, you may be a group benefits advisor looking for the next new thing in group benefits, flex accounts, and HSAs.

Either way, read on!

Let’s first talk about the individual insurance advisor who doesn’t know anything about group insurance. If that’s you, you have a few options when confronted with a client who wants a group policy:

  1. Refer to a group benefits advisor in your circle
  2. Try to do it yourself!

Now, in many cases, the first option makes a lot of sense. Especially if you build a mutually beneficial referral circle. However, let’s say you don’t have someone to send the work to, this is where some technological platforms can help you. For example, Collage offers a platform that partners with insurance advisors to help them sell group benefits. Like Justwealth above, this provides a nice client portal and easy walkthroughs to simplify the entire process. As a bionic advisor without a focus on group benefits, you could easily jump onto this platform and offer a fairly good service to the occasional, one-off group insurance situations you find yourself in.

But even seasoned advisors will become more effective and efficient using the technological platforms of the future. These platforms have started offering new flex plans which offer a massively differentiated option for group advisors who want an alternative or non-traditional option for their clients. Take a look at HoneyBee as a great example. It doesn’t do direct sales to customers as many tech competitors may. Instead, it is a platform built for advisors to help companies figure out their health and allowance accounts. It’s easy to set up, builds a direct client portal for the company and its employees, and makes you look like amazing.  

A financial advisor looking to become bionic, then, will begin to implement these sorts of group benefits tools into his or her offerings. It will allow you to offer a holistic suite of products and group policies that put other advisors to shame. And, once more, not to sound like a broken record, but an insurance verticalized CRM will be the quarterback of all of this in the future. Advisors will be directly connected to these group services, be it buying a policy right from your platform a la an Amazon-esque experience, or connecting to another tech provider who can provide you with a built-in products.

Tl;dr – Find a group benefits tech platform to help you meet your client needs.

Your Marketing

Next up, let’s talk marketing, as if you want to become a bionic advisor, it’s time to digitize and modernize your marketing. This starts simply from an up-to-date website. If you like to build your own, you can do it through Squarespace in a weekend without any technical skills required. If you’re looking for some help, check out our friends at Advisor Websites who do this specifically for financial advisors. And make no mistake, your website and your LinkedIn are now your actual resume. Whenever a new prospect searches for you, this is what pops up – so make sure it looks good.

A second aspect of marketing that’s worth investing in is marketing automation. That is, building out a touchpoint cadence with your clients and making sure you reach out at the appropriate times. This can be for everything from a weekly newsletter, to a check-in set up automatically for every three months. Today’s bionic advisor should look into a service like Mailchimp. When you get a new client, put said client into the appropriate segmented list, and let the automation work its magic. Want to go more client specific? Advisor Stream works directly with financial advisors to help them send out mass-emails appropriately.    

Finally, you should start thinking about what channels you can advertise across. For example, Finaeo offers our advisors a digital financial needs analysis form which works with our CRM. Enterprising advisors could take this FNA and use it as a lead magnet, creating advertisements campaigns across social media platforms such as FB which lead directly to this form. That way, a lead will fill out some key information for you in a very user-friendly way.

Tl;dr – Digitize your marketing stack!

Tying It All Together With A Vertical CRM

Finally, let’s talk about the final piece of this equation – your vertical CRM. Now, I use the term “vertical” here to denote that this is a CRM built for financial advisors, with a focus on insurance. And this is an important distinction. Often enough, I chat with financial advisors who are using a generic CRM. It’s primarily used as an overly expensive contact manager – a place to find emails and phone numbers, and occasionally update information. And, look, that’s actually very useful. It’s much better than pen and pepper. After all, some organization is better than no organization at all. A single place where you can find as much information as possible is never a bad thing.

However, a generalized CRM is not built for financial advisors. It isn’t built in a way that understands your work flow. A simple Finaeo example – as mentioned above, we have built out a financial needs analysis tool for our advisors (and a group policy intake form for our group advisors) which connects to our vertical CRM. Moreover, when it comes to a vertical CRM, you get a platform designed by people who really understand your business. This comes out in the small touches and nuances. It comes out when you need to add a policy to a prospect and can build one with ease. It comes with the intelligence to give you a reminder 90 days before renewal for your group clients. It comes with a chatbot that gets you insurance quotes on the go. It comes with all the small pieces that create a fully fleshed out, incredibly powerful experience. I’m pitching, I know, but I get excited when I think about what we’re doing for financial advisors around here.

So let’s walk through the user flow together around the financial needs analysis tool. You have a prospect come in. You send her the FNA to fill out pre-meeting. By meeting time, the FNA has already been finished and has populated your CRM with her information. Let’s take it a little further into the future: she’s stated she needs life insurance in her FNA, so your CRM has already generated you a handful of quotes. Let’s go another year into the future of that – once you meet with her, you show her the quotes, and through an Amazon-like shopping experience, you add the policy she wants to a cart, get her e-signature, and send it all out. Now she just needs a medical (or, if guaranteed, maybe not even that) and you’re good to go. All in one meeting.

Just as importantly, a vertical CRM can play the quarterback to the other tools you are using. Imagine a future where all the tools I discussed above are built out in one centralized location. Your marketing feeds directly into your CRM, your CRM feeds directly into both group and wealth tech platforms, and everything ties cleanly.

Simply put, a generalized CRM will not be able to do these things. At least not without $10s or $100s of thousands in customizations. When it comes to building something that truly encapsulates your workflows, you need to go vertical. And the future bionic advisor will be vertical.

Tl;dr – A vertical CRM is necessary to become a bionic advisor.

Conclusion

Overall, then, the building blocks to a successful bionic advisor are already in place. If you want to become a bionic advisor – that is, a financial advisor with a focus on client relationships, and a more holistic approach, buoyed by technology – it’s time to get set up!

Have any questions? Want to learn how Finaeo teams up with interested advisors to turn them #bionic? Reach out to us! We’re happy to chat.