Are you ready to tackle 2024? For an industry that’s already in flux, 2024 is likely to mark the further adoption of the macro trends currently underway. We’ll take a look at four of those big trends in this article. You can’t talk about 2024 without at least mentioning the political questions that could impact the industry this year (e.g. the presidential election, proposed regulations, and the viability of the Chevron deference doctrine). But we’re not in the political commentary/forecasting business – we’re marketers for the financial services industry, focused on helping our clients grow. With that in mind, let’s take a look at four of those macro trends, two on the client side and two on the firm side, and try to figure out if any of them are going to tackle you back.
The basic trend of wealth concentration may have taken a few hits or had a few bad headlines, but it remains in place. Even with greater wealth creation in the economy and more diverse holders of wealth, wealth ultimately remains concentrated pretty much where it has been for the past 10-20 years or so, simplifying continued efforts to prospect. But the diversification of wealth creation also means new opportunities to prospect into specific niches, both for new classes of investments and new segments of wealth holders and wealth advisors.
Longevity & Demographics
The definition of retirement, a resilient driver of opportunity in wealth management, has changed to reflect greater longevity, the availability of remote work, and – distinct from longevity although certainly related to it – the growth of better health outcomes as we age. This means the planning and investment strategies are correspondingly more complex as they need to incorporate changing life stages and goals and address the very real concern for many of outliving one’s assets.
Terms like “age-gap marriages,” “blended families”, and “gray divorce” underscore shifting complexities in household dynamics, impacting wealth, investment, and retirement planning.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
By now, everyone’s aware of AI, an umbrella term for set of technologies that simultaneously promises to save us while it threatens to erase us. In reality it will likely do neither. But it will have profound impacts on the way work gets done, and how advisors can spend their time.
A key feature of generative (or regenerative) AI is the seeming ability to “learn” as it goes along. The premise is a set of tools that get better ‘by themselves’ over time. Robo-advisors will get better with AI, but so will human advisors that embrace the technology and work alongside AI-enhanced tools. Automated client experiences will also get better, as insights from AI tools are added to data on the client experience. Complex financial modeling and scenario planning should become more easily and quickly accessible to advisors with the help of AI.
The greatest impediment to adoption is likely to be compliance and regulatory concerns. But once those are overcome, the AI trend is one that seems to have the potential for very quick acceleration and adoption.
There is no reason to expect the financial services industry to be immune to the changes in the wider workforce. Certainly, top firms can buy employee compliance to the ‘standard’ work paradigm, but the pressures for change will remain strong.
The advisor workforce will need to be more tech-savvy, more diverse to match the diversity in wealth, more collaborative, and more empathetic. Recruiting from other industries and other disciplines within financial services will still remain a solid strategy for building out teams in the firm.
The trend for wirehouse advisors to go independent will continue, but even then, a supported independence or team model will be more attractive to the evolving advisor workforce.
The client-side trends underscore the need for wealth management firms and advisors to remain nimble, with their eyes open to the shifts in the marketplace. Marketing strategies will need to embrace even more uncertainty than before, with testing and proving becoming the watchwords for tactical deployments.
The firm-side trends underscore the need for wealth management firms and advisors to be less reliant on the ‘lone ranger’ advisor model and be ready to embrace the new workforce and the innovative technologies that will support them.
Not surprisingly, these trends are not only impacting financial services firms, but every firm – even marketing agencies like us. Changing demographics, AI technologies, and new ways of working are the same things we contend with, too. If you’d like to work with a marketing firm that is thinking through the same things you are – and who are experts in marketing for financial services – give us a call.