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Financial Services Chat on an iPad
December 8, 2020

Understanding Financial Services Clients in a Digital-First World

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“Business is about delivering value, and the team who delivers value is going to win the day.”

Growth strategist Mike McGlothlin knows a thing or two about winning—even when the road ahead is littered with uncertainty.

Winner of Allego’s Trailblazer Award and Executive Vice President for Retirement for Ash Brokerage (not to mention author of Winning Strategies), McGlothlin’s work helped position his company up for incredible success in a digital-first world.

Recently, McGlothlin was featured on The Adapter’s Advantage podcast. He and host Mark Magnacca, president and co-founder of Allego, discussed the pillars of finding success despite the enormous challenges facing his industry. Here are five takeaways from their conversation.

#1 Understand How Your Clients Consume Information

“We have to be able to have our information and our education in the way that people want to consume it, and when they want to consume it, and on the platform that they want to consume it.”

It’s been said before and it still rings true—we’ve entered the information age. But understanding how your consumers are accessing information about your services can make a big difference in getting your message across.

In a pre-pandemic world, McGlothlin’s team helped educate their clients at seminars or at face-to-face breakfast, lunch, and coffee meetings. But when the health crisis struck, the world went digital—and that’s where clients started looking for resources elsewhere.

“I will tell you as a part of the Executive Committee for the Society of Financial Service Professionals, we’re finding that there’s a six times increase in the number of our archive webinar views versus pre pandemic.”

Your consumers are looking for answers. The first place they’ll look is online. Now more than ever, it’s important to ask yourself:

  • What do your online resources look like?
  • Is your digital presence a checked box, or is it providing value to the consumer?
  • Do your online resources represent the quality of your service offerings?

McGlothlin points out that high-quality digital resources won’t be losing value anytime soon, no matter how the health crisis unfolds.

“The financial services space is really slow to move with technology and e-signatures and stuff like that. But certainly in a pandemic situation, what I think will continue on in a post pandemic [world] is how we consume information.”

A strong, informational hub where your clients can educate themselves on your service offerings and expertise will always be evergreen.

#2 Look Ahead to Create Efficiency

“So we have to teach our advisors today, how to be more efficient and more effective [in anticipation of increased service demands]”

Whether you’re in finance, entertainment, hospitality, or pharma, one truism applies to all industries—the only constant is change. For McGlothlin and Ash Brokerage, that change is going to come in the form of service demand by one of their largest consumer demographics: Baby Boomers.

“We’re coming into a period of time where today in 2020, there’s one advisor for every 76 Baby Boomers. In just five short years, there’s going to be one advisor for 176 Baby Boomers. So we have to teach our advisors today how to be more efficient and more effective. And so being able to be a one-stop shop […] and that’s our true value proposition there.”

Using demographic data, McGlothlin is thinking five years (and therefore five steps) ahead of his company’s well-being and he’s seeing one major potential pitfall: not enough financial advisors to help meet the needs of retiring clients. To adapt, McGlothlin is improving financial advisors’ education with Allego to help fortify the company for the future.

McGlothlin is adapting to the needs of the future before it can put Ash Brokerage’s growth at risk. By looking at today’s world, brands can also anticipate future client’s needs and elevate value ahead of time.

Here are just a few ways to start:

  • Understand your main consumer demographic. What changes are they facing? What services will they need in your industry to address those changes?
  • Imagine your company five years ahead (and your client base five times as big). Where will inefficiencies come from in your current systems?
  • Ask yourself where your customers go after using your services. How can you expand your umbrella now to help cover those supplementary needs down the line?

#3 Help Your Team Get Comfortable with Technology

“We need to be razor sharp and crystal clear about how to get our people to actually interact and collaborate [through technology].”

As McGlothlin points out, technology isn’t going anywhere. But if your team is still finding their sea legs on the World Wide Web, they’re not primed to bring their best work, services, or innovations to the table.

“Because we’ve been using technology and digital ways of communicating for several years now, that doesn’t always mean our advisors are comfortable. And they may not be comfortable with that platform because there’s so many competing platforms right now. And so we have to spend a little bit of extra time making people comfortable. So how do you interact? How do you go into this breakout session? How do you chat? How do you mute yourself? How do you turn on your video camera?”

Once that fluency is achieved, your team will be better equipped to produce quality work, collaborate on new ideas, and bring value to the brand and the consumer no matter the medium.

“Value can be delivered virtually, it can be delivered over the telephone, it can be delivered face-to-face. The key thing is how are you going to make a difference in that [person’s] life?”

#4 Always Challenge Your Systems to Be Better

“And I always tell my staff, challenge me. If something doesn’t look right, let’s think about doing something different”

For McGlothlin, adaptation can’t happen if you’re complacent in your success—and that’s coming from someone whose business saw 300% growth.

Here are some takeaways from McGlothlin’s approach to improvement:

  • “You’re only as good as the five people around you” – If you’re the smartest person in the room, it’s time to find a different room. Challenge yourself to find where your expertise could use some fortifying.
  • Look to other industries for innovation – McGlothlin constantly looks to other fields and companies for inspiration behind the big ideas that span from technological platforms to the day-to-day essentials like customer service and satisfaction.
  • Be open to challenges – McGlothlin realizes the value of more than one perspective. That means inviting criticism and being open to new solutions.

#5 But Don’t Be Afraid of Falling Short of Perfection

“Just do something differently.”

Innovation comes from trying things in a new way, but that doesn’t mean you’ll get it right every time. McGlothlin advises not to worry too much about hitting the bullseye with every initiative.

“I think a lot of times we try to be too perfect…[but] I think that you have to jump in and try.”

The most important part of adaptation is taking a chance on change and seeing what works and what doesn’t. The value of those lessons will pave the way for success no matter your industry.

Keep Adaptation in the Conversation

From how McGlothlin operates, it’s clear he views adaptation not as a destination, but as a practice that’s part of the everyday journey.

“It’s not good, better, great. It’s better, better, better, better, better, better. And that’s what we try to do. That’s what we try to go for.”

Learn More

For  more of McGlothlin’s insights, listen to the complete interview in Episode 2 of The Adapter’s Advantage: Using Technology to Get an Edge. To learn how to take your financial services practice to the next level, check out High Performing Practice.

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