What the Next Decade Holds for Financial Advisors

Investing News

The financial sector is rapidly changing in many ways. But what does the future hold from here? Although it is impossible to say for certain, several recent trends have quickly gained traction in the marketplace and are likely to play themselves out within the next decade. Financial advisors need to get ready for them now.

Key Takeaways

  • For decades, financial advisors have done things more or less the same way—checking in once or twice a year and focusing on accumulation.
  • The next few years, however, will see a shift in trends that promises to reshape the ways that successful advisors need to think about to stay ahead.
  • Technological trends in roboadvising, an aging client population that seeks income rather than risk and accumulation, and regulatory changes toward fiduciary duty are all among future considerations that advisors must take heed of.

Technological Trends

Almost nowhere is the digital revolution making an impact as large as it is in the finance industry. It’s now easier than ever for investors to access their accounts and see how their portfolios, not to mention the markets themselves, are performing. The future will likely make seamless digital portals as commonplace as cell phones are today, allowing clients to log in and manage their money, communicate with advisors and planners around the clock and place trades.

Roboadvisors will also likely be employed by every firm in one capacity or another. In 10 years, they will likely be able to follow very sophisticated strategies that employ a measure of judgment regarding buy and sell decisions. Access to these services will likely become completely mobile and cloud-based and these innovations may combine to drastically drive down the price of financial planning and asset management for the public.

There is, in fact, speculation that financial planning may become available at no cost once computer technology reaches the point where it can use automated programs to help clients to determine their risk tolerance and time horizon and then formulate an investment strategy.

Fiduciary Trend

The Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule, which mandated that all those involved in retirement planning, product sales, and financial advice maintain a fiduciary status, was quashed by a federal court in June 2018. But it may yet leave a legacy. Many financial services firms had already begun altering business practices to lessen conflicts of interest (or the appearance of same).

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) adopted a set of new regulations requiring brokers to put their customers’ financial interests ahead of their own in 2019. Many futurists in the industry see more transparent pricing and disclosure policies ahead, along with an adviser compensation model that is based on a regular periodic retainer rather than fees or commissions.

Generation Gap

Advisors who are ignoring potential Generation X and Millennial clients are doing so at their peril. More than $50 trillion dollars is going to pass from the Baby Boomer generation to their descendants in the next couple of decades. Planners need to make a point of getting to know their older clients’ kids in order to retain them after their parents are gone. This means a shift away from risk and growth to stability, conservation, and producing retirement income from portfolio assets.

Demographic Shifts

The change in demographics and increasing globalization of the world’s economies will lead to enormous new marketing opportunities for advisors who are able to reach clients that were previously beyond their grasp. The number of people with mobile phones by the end of 2021 was an estimated 8.3 billion and the figure is expected to rise another billion by 2027.

The amount of private wealth in the world is also expected to rise, and shift toward women. In fact, women will control about $30 trillion of the liquid investable assets in the U.S. by 2030. This unprecedented wealth shift creates new challenges, but also new opportunities, for financial advisors as women often react differently to market risk, may have different financial goals than men, and so on.

Education Debt

Paying off student loans is a huge burden for many graduates and parents, and there is now more educational loan debt than credit card debt in America. More clients will be looking for advice on how to deal with this issue, and a legislative overhaul will likely be necessary to deal with the problem on a national scale.

Retirement Planning

If retirement planning seems difficult now, it will only get harder for many younger workers who may substantially outlive their parents. Modern medical advances in areas such as cancer research are combining to push average projected lifespans into the 90s and past the century mark at some point. The demand for new products, such as longevity annuities, will most likely mushroom in the next several years.

Other vehicles may become available in the insurance marketplace that can help savers to preserve their incomes for as long as they live. Accelerated benefit riders that allow life insurance policyholders to access a portion of death benefits for expenses such as long-term health care are also likely to become integral parts of every term and permanent insurance policy.

Are Roboadvisors Replacing Human Financial Advisors?

Roboadvisors are app-based investment platforms that automate long-term investment portfolios using algorithms to allocate and manage portfolios at low cost. In 2019, roboadvisors were estimated to have $460 billion in assets under management (AUM). That number is expected to grow to $1.2 trillion by 2024.

Will The Number of Financial Advisors Grow in the Future?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were more than 330,300 financial advisors in America in 2021. That number is expected to increase by 50,900 additional jobs by 2031, a faster than average rate of job growth.

How Much Money Do Financial Advisors Make?

Financial advisor earnings have a very wide range, especially since the job is often based on commissions or assets under management. According to U.S. government statistics, the median pay among financial advisors in 2021 was $94,170.

The Bottom Line

The financial industry is in the throes of a digital and marketplace revolution that may result in the availability of low-cost financial planning for the masses. Seamless, cloud-based technology will enable round-the-clock mobility for traders and younger clients who have grown up in the internet era. Automated services and transparent pricing are on the horizon, along with stricter rules and regulations for advisors who service retirement plans and accounts.

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