Outcomes 2019 kicked off with the easiest synopsis of why advisors should pay attention to financial wellness and participant engagement.
It's all about relationships. Retirement advisors are the trusted relationship for participants. Life is often the catalyst that creates great opportunities to help participants. Technology can connect and deepen those relationships.
Daniel Bryant (HUB, Sheridan Road) opened the event with a keynote highlighting what advisors should pay attention to and how those points will shape the future of the industry:
Academia and behavioral economics
Healthcare costs becoming more transparent
Behavioral technology and its ability to change how people engage with information and make decisions
Changing employee/employer relationship dynamics
The convergence of retirement, wealth, and health
Vince Morris (RIA, Financial Elements), in his session: "How We Work," showed how RIA is using technology to provide personalized financial guidance to participants. Having a clearly defined process that combines a participant experience with explicit financial progress and leveraging tools like managed accounts results in successful and increasingly profitable client relationships.
We wrapped up Day 1 at Wyncoop Brewery, Colorado's oldest, with great conversation and Questis’ own branded beer tap: LiQuidAssets!
Day 2 of Outcomes 2019 focused on one thing...execution. The big questions being: how are other advisors successfully implementing wellness in their practices, why are they doing it, and with what tools?
The general theme from session to session was consistent. In order to offer the most impactful experience to employers and employees, a few common components are required:
Human Interaction: Human interaction is necessary to drive behavior change and to establish great relationships. Participants need to talk to someone in order to understand, trust and feel confident taking action.
Technology and Digital Experience: The technology platform a firm selects is the connector between the firm, the educators, and the participants. It is imperative for scale, for data collection, and deepening interactions with participants.
Reporting and Tracking: Data collection via a participant management platform can track progress, show accountability, and report on firm successes to the plan sponsor. This is vital to plan retention and makes it simple to manage education teams and stay compliant. Ideally this participant management platform is connected to a firm’s financial wellness experience to ensure a strong communication flow from participant to firm.
Point Solutions and Convergence Process: As retirement and wealth practices continue to converge, streamlined processes and digital solutions to support opportunity tracking and ease of handoffs will become increasingly important. Offerings like managed accounts and individualized planning and guidance are critical to give participants supported next steps, and can add revenue for the advisory firm.
Outcomes Day 3 brought in a panel of the industry’s top thought leaders who discussed topics such as how technology is changing the way advisors serve their clients, how firms and employers can deliver better employee results, and what outcomes they predict for the future.
Speakers of the panel represented a variety of areas on the retirement spectrum. Of these were representatives from Blackrock, Hellman & Freidman, Legg Mason, Prudential Retirement, HUB, and Questis.
A few noteworthy quotes and key takeaways were:
“Retirement, at the center of an employee’s financial benefits, is poised to be the key player in driving overall employee wellness” - Vishal Jain, Prudential
With the increase in merger and acquisition activities, “...advisory firms who are showing a consistent process for working with their plan participants are being valued significantly higher.” - Steve Wilbourne, Questis
Technology is getting simpler, more relatable, and actionable for participants...while moving to focus on how advisors and educators interact. “How can we help the advisor have deeper conversations” - Blackrock
Disruption is coming! And not just in the retirement world, but in how benefits are delivered, referenced, and integrated into the workplace. This should have a major impact on the employer’s enterprise value, an advisor’s value to their client, and an increase in the number of financial services firms working with, partnering with, or buying benefits groups outright. “I envision a day where we are no longer just retirement advisors, but life advisors.” - Jania Stout
Why is the employer channel a great distribution model for advisors and benefits firms?
It’s the natural channel for someone to get financial help
It’s a large market, both fiscally and in the number of firms
There is a natural trust between the retirement advisor and their client
There is access to engage and grow relationships with individuals through education
TRENDS TO LOOK FOR IN THE COMING YEAR
Increased collaboration between retirement advisors and benefits firms
Increase in valuations and acquisition of advisory practices who have a “mature” participant education and engagement strategy
A continued battle for the participant and the data surrounding them between 401k advisors and 401k recordkeepers
Continued transfer of wealth to the millennial generation, found in middle management roles as opposed to the historical trend of C-suite executives
The convergence of not only retirement and wealth management, but also health and retirement, especially as retirement healthcare costs increase
Employers focusing on how their integrated benefits can drive enterprise value and show tangible ROI
Want to see how financial wellness could improve your firm’s OUTCOMES?