For many financial planners, it’s increasingly difficult to get new clients. Those with a longer-term practice can at least rely on referrals from existing clients. For newer planners, though, it can be especially hard or even prohibitively expensive to find new clients, leading at best to a significant “income gap” in the early years of starting a new advisory firm.
Yet arguably, the process of matching a financial planner and a consumer isn’t necessarily much easier from the client’s perspective, either. The fact that consumers are regularly counseled to interview multiple advisors and ask them a dozen questions or more means there's a huge commitment of time and effort from consumers just to try to find an advisor. How many decide it’s easier to just find the answers to their questions themselves, than go through the hours it takes to find an advisor to answer them?
Similarly, planners themselves make the process even harder for prospective clients, as once the consumer finds a planner, it’s still not possible to just get the desired advice! Next comes an extensive data gathering and discovery process – all the more onerous for those who most need the help, who may not be organized enough to provide the requisite information! And once all that is done, the planner often still insists in going through a comprehensive financial planning solution, and is unwilling to “just” answer a new client’s specific and finite financial planning questions!
The end result of these challenges is that while it’s hard for advisors to find clients, perhaps the real issue is that we’ve made it too hard for consumers to find their way to us and work with us to efficiently get their own questions answered. How might financial planning be changed if the goal, truly, was to make it as easy as possible to become a client?