RISES TEND TO SPAWN HYPERBOLES . A YEAR AGO , THE national media and many others were proclaiming that the upheaval wrought by the pandemic would change most things , if not everything . As usual , that narrative was excessive .
But for financial advisors , the new landscape already is clear . Many clients and prospects are rethinking many of the priorities in their lives .
What they do , where they live and when they retire are top-of-mind issues . A stream of new clients was only one of several reasons many RIA firms enjoyed the best year in their history in 2020 .
For many successful RIAs , however , the biggest constraint isn ’ t the supply of new clients . It ’ s the shortage of talented advisors to service them .
As senior editor Eric Rasmussen chronicles in this year ’ s RIA survey on page 33 , the pandemic changed the role geography played in the way advisors work with clients and staff . Quarterly meetings were already on the wane , as many time-pressed clients found that their needs were more situational . Portfolio reviews could be done over the phone — or now Zoom .
Many clients have more pressing issues than their portfolios , most of which looked pleasantly plump by mid-2021 . All other things being equal , increased wealth has given millions of Americans expanded financial independence .
The public health crisis occurred at precisely the same time the average baby boomer was turning 65 and entering or contemplating retirement .
A stream of new clients was just one of the several reasons RIA firms enjoyed the best year in their history in 2020 .
SURVEY & RANKING
Ironically , the 2020 pandemic may have accelerated RIAs ’ business and broadened their potential pool of talent and clients .
Investors Look Abroad
Could the next decade see better returns offshore ?
Real Estate Shakes Off Covid-19
2020 was a double-edged sword for real estate .
There is a reason Fidelity has kept running its “ change of plans ” ad on television over the last year .
Virtual work is now a reality in the RIA world in a way that it isn ’ t on Wall Street . Morgan Stanley , Goldman Sachs and other giants are ordering employees to return after Labor Day .
One obvious takeaway is that it ’ s a lot easier to monitor the productivity of 50 or 100 employees than it is to track 70,000 people . Another is that the open architecture platform embraced by many RIAs is far more compatible with flex work than control-driven wirehouses are .
It remains to be seen exactly how this plays out . Microsoft ’ s CEO recently told Barron ’ s that the shift to hybrid work would be the “ biggest shift ” in a generation . However , skeptics think that the work-from-home trend could be shortcircuited if employees start thriving in the office again .
Email me at esimonoff @ fa-mag . com with your opinion .
6 | FINANCIAL ADVISOR MAGAZINE | JULY / AUGUST 2021 WWW . FA-MAG . COM