nline 401(k) advice has hit the financial services marketplace in a big way. What does this mean for brokers and other financial intermediaries? It means that they have a real-time opportunity to leverage their time, target their ideal clients, and build their business. Online advice gives brokers tremendous opportunity to be successful in today's financial services industry.
In response to participants' increasing need and demand for financial and retirement planning advice, financial services providers have embraced and developed online advice programs. This has created a new distribution channel and offers many opportunities to those brokers and financial intermediaries that use online advice and other Internet based support tools to maximize their business and client relationships.
Today, participants demand more choice, flexibility, and control over their retirement investments. With the emergence of online advice, participants have the opportunity to become more sophisticated money managers by having access to two fundamental planning tools (via online advice) that they typically do not have access to: objective third party fund research, and retirement forecasting and modeling tools.
This increased demand creates enormous opportunities for brokers that utilize online advice tools to target high-net worth clients. Online advice, in addition to face to face advisory meetings, will help clients take control of their financial futures. Brokers can move away from typical 'basics of investing' discussions and help their clients develop customized financial solutions that demonstrate their value as a financial advisor. Brokers may also have the ability to access more assets through enhanced relationships and new referrals, which means increased sales power.
Online advice has changed the role of the broker as we know it. The days of the broker as a transaction processor are over. If brokers are going to be effective advisors, they must stay abreast of the latest investment trends, techniques, and research with the same level of professionalism exemplified by others, such as doctors, lawyers, or professors, who work in a constantly evolving universe.
In a time when brokers are under attack by online trading firms, a change from transaction processor to educator, advisor, and mentor will enhance the overall image and success of our industry.
Kendall Kay is chief strategy officer for Manulife Financial. Manulife offers clients a range of financial protection products and wealth management services. This is not intended as investment advice.
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