Long ago in what seems like a world that is far, far away, I was a financial advisor who managed assets for my clients. I liked to believe that my clients received a higher level of care and concern from me than they would with many other financial advisors. Most of my friends who are or were financial advisors of course believe the same thing. We would hear stories of other advisors losing their licenses for selling inappropriate products to clients or trying to generate fees that were way out of line with the services they provided, and it would shock us that people would actually engage in behaviors that involved stealing or taking advantage of their clients. Granted, the universe of unethical advisors is incredibly small and for every “bad one” there is an army of good ones…but the bad ones get all the press.
The thing I realize now that I am in the financial wellness industry and not the financial advisory business is that even the best of advisors have “blind spots” or areas where their clients are not receiving the world class advice that they are accustomed to receiving. It’s not because the advisors are deliberately withholding information – in fact, I have had the pleasure of working with some of the best advisors on Earth and think very highly of many others that I have met. It’s just that it is virtually impossible to discuss every single area of a person’s financial life with someone and not have them fall sound asleep.
For the majority of banking customers, access to financial advisors is not an option. Traditionally, wealth management clients must have hundreds of thousands, and sometimes several millions, in investable assets. But with the increased use of automated options, including self- and assisted service solutions available via digital banking and call and contact center channels, some of this expertise can be shared with retail banking customers. These lower-cost options can benefit both bank customers, credit union members, and financial institutions alike, and provide an opportunity to have higher-level discussions over time.
Overview by Ed O’Brien, Director Banking Channels Advisory Service at Mercator Advisory Group
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