2024 is set to be a big year for financial advisors. Here are some things you should know as we head into February.
2024 didn’t wait to set off fireworks for financial advisors. Economic conditions and stability are uncertain at best, credit card debt is at an all-time high, and regulations appear to be tightening for those who offer professional financial advice. So, now that we’ve come down from the excitement of the holidays and the new year, it’s time to get serious about what you might face over the next 365, or in this year’s case 366, days. Here are five things you need to know as a financial advisor in 2024.
- Need for Longevity Planning is on the Rise
This industry is always changing, and those you serve will always have different needs. That’s why, as a financial advisor, it’s important that you can adjust and adapt to the economic climate. The current environment is a period during which life expectancy is at an all-time high, and it’s only projected to continue increasing. A multitude of factors go into life expectancy, but in the age of technology, it appears to be linked to better studies regarding health. For example, 2023 brought breakthroughs in the ages-old fight against cancer, and though current treatments could still be out of reach financially for the average consumer, further advancements could make it more available, affordable and widespread.
According to J.P. Morgan Asset Management, life expectancy is also booming for those who have already reached retirement age. A modern-day couple with two healthy, non-smoking 65-year-olds has a 73% chance of one partner reaching age 90. There’s even a 23% chance that both reach 90. Furthermore, there’s nearly a 50% chance that one of them reaches 95. If both members of that couple retire at 65, that means that one of them may have to sustain themselves for 30 years or more! Neither advisors nor retirees are used to planning for 30 years of retirement and fixed income living, potentially necessitating further longevity planning. Some potential strategies include long-term or permanent life insurance policies or annuities with guaranteed lifetime income riders. These could be vital with volatile, unpredictable markets, an opaque future for tax obligations, and no clear indication of how life expectancies will be impacted by new discoveries in the days ahead.
- Clients Have a Higher Demand for Holistic, Personal Planning
The dynamic between advisors and clients hasn’t changed as much as it has evolved. It’s now much more personal and less transactional than it was even just a few short years ago, and responding to the wants and needs of individuals has become a way to stand out amongst your competitors, especially with clients who are looking for a relationship that goes beyond finance. That’s why offering holistic planning instead of specialized services can be useful, helping you create long-term relationships with those looking for more intimate, personal care by providing a malleable road map for the future that can grow and adapt with a client.
Oftentimes, a holistic plan is more customized, adhering to the unique needs of the client based on their circumstances, goals, tolerance for risk, asset totals and more. It also typically addresses needs beyond simple investment strategy, asset allocation and financial planning. It can extend into budgeting, insurance needs, income streams, long-term care coverage, estate and legacy planning, tax strategies, financial planning for businesses, Social Security assistance, Medicare plan selection, and more. While that may sound extensive, it may be worth adding a service you don’t already provide to your menu. You might even be able to do it without increasing overhead or operating costs, as technological advancements make it easier to analyze data, find behavioral patterns and select plans based on a client’s situation.
- The DOL and SEC are Cracking Down
Whether or not these crackdowns are actually helpful for retirees, the fact is, the DOL and SEC are focusing on specific areas that directly affect financial advisors with the intent of protecting investors and savers. First and foremost, the DOL proposed their new “Retirement Security” rule, which is an attempt to close loopholes and redefine the word “fiduciary” to extend to anyone who offers professional advice on a “regular basis,” including broker-dealers, insurance and sales agents and retirement plan consultants. It would also mean that even one-time recommendations like rollovers or sales of insurance products would be held to a fiduciary standard rather than a “suitability” standard. To read more about this proposed new rule and its potential effects, click here.
The SEC also published its list of priorities in 2024, giving advisors a chance to adhere to compliance regulations during potential RIA examinations. An important thing to know is that advice about complex, high-cost, illiquid and unconventional products will most likely face heavy scrutiny this year. That can include options like ETFs, variable annuities, REITs and more. Exams will also include reviews to determine if investment advice is offered in clients’ best interests, as well as discussions about how RIAs and IARs can be more transparent about their compensation structure or eliminate perceived conflicts of interest. Additionally, the SEC will continue to assess marketing campaigns and materials to ensure that all information is disclosed on Form ADV and that advertisements, including testimonials, are not misleading or promissory.
- AI is Already Mainstream, and You Should Consider Leveraging It
This one is two-fold. First and foremost, artificial intelligence is the hottest tech on the market, even prompting some analysts to speculate that it can single-handedly propel the industry in the near future. And why shouldn’t they let speculation run wild? We’ve never seen technology go this mainstream this quickly. In fact, ChatGPT reached 100 million monthly users just two months after its launch, which is less than a quarter of the time it took TikTok to reach that mark. We’d also be surprised if you haven’t already answered client questions about investing in this IP that has taken the world by storm. Your response to the boom of AI and its place in a portfolio could be important to your clients.
On the other side of the coin, AI should be more than just a prospective investment for asset managers. It’s technology that is already being used to assess individuals, personalize portfolios, detect patterns and more. Integrating this tech into your business and workflow could help you as we move forward into this new world. It can also be a valuable tool for content creation. Whether you’re looking to generate content ideas or the content itself, it can be a great place to start, even as it still hasn’t settled in place from an SEO (search engine optimization) perspective. If you do adopt this approach, we always recommend revisiting your content to ensure that it has a personal touch and still follows SEO best practices by being helpful, demonstrative of expertise and trustworthy.
Speaking of trustworthy, remember, AI use is new, and in some cases has been found to be faulty. An article in CNN found that AI was completely making “facts” up and doing it with complete confidence, using the phrase “AI hallucination.” In the future, regulatory agencies may hold financial advisors personally responsible for any AI mistakes that might negatively affect investors. It is always a good idea to check with your compliance team before adding AI to your mix.
- This Year Could Define You
Not to get too dramatic or raise too many alarms, but 2024 could be the year that defines you as an advisor for both current and prospective clients. While that might sound scary, it opens opportunities for advisors ready to take advantage of speculation and uncertainty. Will interest rates be cut as the Fed has hinted at, or continue to rise amid less-than-ideal inflation numbers? Will the looming recession finally hit and cause panic among consumers, or will the surprising record bull market continue? After a strong year of performance from the market last year, is this the year that volatility catches up with us?
Of course, in the financial landscape, nothing is ever certain, and there are no freebies, but that doesn’t stop your clients from coming to you for answers, especially with an approaching election that only appears to promise strong numbers for network news outlets. Granted, markets tend to perform well in election years, and even more so in re-election years, but it can also be impossible to project the next housing crisis or dot-com crash, both of which have caused markets to tumble in the past as presidential hopefuls campaigned for office. How you field questions, communicate with your clients, demonstrate your worth, and respond to potential adversity can speak volumes about potential long-term relationships.
If you have any questions about how you can prepare for 2024 and everything it might throw at you, our team at Quantum is here to help. Give us a call today at 800.440.1088.
Cameron partners with financial professionals who specialize in retirement and income planning. He manages the complicated product landscape by utilizing his extensive knowledge of product positioning and case design. Read More