September 7, 2017

In a New Robo World, Advisory Firms Must Advocate the Value of Human Interaction

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By Shaina Lamb, Senior Account Supervisor

Financial advisors are facing the most challenging environment since the financial crisis.

The battle today is actually exacerbated by a bull market, as opposed to a bear market and deep recession. The strong performance of the S&P 500 and other indices has made it increasingly difficult for traditional advisors to demonstrate their value to clients.

Robo advisors and other low-cost investment firms have flooded the market and provided new options for investors who are comfortable with automated financial services. The argument is simple: Why pay higher fees to a “traditional,” human advisor when a robo advisor or simple index product can perform just as well—if not better—and for far less in product fees?

As someone who practices wealth management PR, I work closely with both large, mutli-national wealth advisory firms as well as boutique managers. I know firsthand that these firms are working to demonstrate the value of a human advisor and a personal relationship. The forward thinking wealth management firms understand that if the value of human interaction isn’t demonstrated, they risk the loss of clients, assets, and possibly their entire business.

Many of the firms we work with hire us because they need help creating a strong narrative and communicating a clear and consistent value proposition to current and prospective clients.

These firms also demonstrate their competitive advantage over robo advisors, including their ability to navigate complex business, estate and tax issues; coordinate with other members of a client’s professional team (e.g. accountants and estate attorneys); and maintain a complete picture of a client’s circumstances and goals.

Strategic firms also understand that PR and marketing have many facets. Many of our clients have PR programs that include elements such as:

  • Participating in broadcast and print media appearances that establish the advisor and firm as trustworthy and knowledgeable industry thought leaders.
  • Publishing op-ed pieces that clearly communicate a point of view on key industry topics that directly impact their clients.
  • Establishing a thoughtful social media presence that promotes engagement with key influencers and investors, while providing a channel to “push out” broadcast and print media coverage.
  • Creating a sleek and up-to-date website that establishes the firm’s credibility and clearly communicates its value proposition. The site also should host original content on the industry and feature recent media highlights.
  • Developing client testimonials and case studies that showcase the firm’s experience.
  • Seeking opportunities to speak at key industry events and conferences to establish leadership while potentially gaining access to new prospects.

The wealth management industry will certainly need to continue to adapt and continuously demonstrate the value of human interaction while also understanding consumers’ interest in technological advances. A strong wealth management public relations program, as well as strategic communications to current clients, will help advisors navigate these changes and stand out in a crowded industry.

They have no choice but to do so—whether in a bull or bear market.

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