Ironically , the 2020 pandemic may have accelerated RIAs ’ business and broadened their potential pool of talent and clients .
BY ERIC RASMUSSEN
HE WORLD CAN REMAIN STUCK IN PLACE for a decade and change more in one year than the past 10 . The 2020 pandemic served as an accelerant for all the major trends influencing the RIA business for the decade — mergers and acquisitions , expanding use of technology and flex-time work .
Soon , we may be referring to 2019 as “ back in my day .” Remember when advisors met clients in person ? When we hired people who worked in the same city as us ?
Imagine the RIA office of the future . People are working in an office maybe three or four days a week . If a boss in St . Louis can ’ t find the right client service rep in town , no problem . She ’ ll hire one in Albuquerque who knows the business and can do everything she needs with clients over Zoom . Or hire a paraplanner in Omaha . She saves money on these hires — since locally sourced people might have been more expensive . The future already is closer than many advisors realize , as they don ’ t have to
meet clients for every quarterly performance review .
Last year ’ s public health crisis also prompted clients to rethink their lives , careers and financial futures and ask themselves what really matters . As these priorities clashed , the complexities often led affluent Americans to seek out advisors . The upshot was a boom in business for well-positioned RIAs .
Deb Wetherby ’ s story for 2020 is not uncommon . She was not only surprised that her office could go all virtual — but says she saw no hiccup in client growth .
“ We had probably our best year ever in terms of new client business ,” says Wetherby , the founder of Wetherby Asset Management in San Francisco , adding that she brought in 45 new clients with $ 500 million in new assets ( the firm now manages $ 6.9 billion for 550 clients ). People at home had time to think of their finances , she says , and that prompted them to reach out to advisors . But , “ I never thought a client would hire us without meeting us .”
Working from home has generated savings for
PHOTOGRAPHY BY GEORGE CASWELL / VIA GETTY IMAGES JULY / AUGUST 2021 | FINANCIAL ADVISOR MAGAZINE | 33