As financial advisors, we find ourselves in the unenviable position of selling the invisible. This concept is not exclusive to our esteemed profession but is a common thread in today’s service economy in which professionals earn their livelihoods through providing intangible services.
I often jest with my fellow financial advisors that we don’t “work hard”, but rather we “think hard”. We don’t work with our hands but deal in information, which is virtual and intangible.
Given this reality, it becomes crucial for us to maximise our effectiveness and efficiency through systemisation, automation and outsourcing to technology and to humans. While others may attempt to succeed through brute force, the adage “work smart, not hard” is a mindset that will need to be adopted in the next wave of technological advancement, which is already upon us.
More tools, more time
As the chief puppet masters of our lives and businesses, we are responsible for making strategic decisions and orchestrating the harmonious collaboration of our teams. In the current environment, this team includes both human and tech elements.
Throughout my career, I have always embraced technological advancements and sought out best-of-breed solutions. Given recent developments, our tech teams have gained unprecedented strength and power thanks to the advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Once the domain of only the most tech-savvy, AI has become more accessible and is finding fascinating applications across various industries, including ours. Indeed, it’s likely already being incorporated into many of the tech tools you already use and pay for.
The rise of AI represents a significant leap forward in the world of technology. Even if you haven’t given AI much thought, rest assured that this technology is contemplating how it can perform tasks better than you, replace you or collaborate with you. The way I see it, you use it or get left behind.
As advisors, we have an opportunity to explore the various features and capabilities of AI that can enhance our clients’ experience, increase our firm’s efficiency and streamline our processes. It is up to us to determine how this technological advancement will either aid or hinder our progress, and to truly benefit from AI, we must strive to maintain control over the technology rather than allow it to control us.
More time, more human
While many speculate that ours is one of the professions that will become redundant, I firmly believe that human connection will remain an integral aspect of our profession.
As my own life becomes increasingly hectic, I am reminded of how fortunate my clients are to have someone in their corner who will immediately immerse themselves in their lives as soon as they contact me.
The need for genuine human connection will always persist, and client-focused behavioural advisors are ideally positioned to thrive in this next phase of our industry’s evolution.
The aim of increasing the use of technology in our businesses, therefore, is not to work less. On the contrary, it is to free us up to devote more of our time to the real but difficult work our clients require from us. By freeing up resources, we can become more human, not less.
More human, more impact
I see our future as one in which we entrust technology with repetitive, mundane and predictable tasks, allowing us to maintain our focus on fostering human connections. While technology has been around us for a long time, it’s paramount that we wrestle and engage with the new generation of generative AI now available to us. Technological advancements are not new; they have been a constant in our world. However, those who adapt to and embrace these changes, as always, will be the ultimate victors.
By freeing ourselves up to have more time to devote to being human, we create the opportunity to create more impact in more lives. It’s clear to me that the best way to create more impact is to focus on “thinking hard” and becoming better at modifying client behaviour. This is my North Star, and if this doesn’t excite you, I can’t relate to you.
And so, I encourage you to harness the power of technology to work diligently in the background while we devote ourselves to thinking hard and piecing it all together, always driven by the desire to secure the best outcomes for our clients. By combining the strengths of technology and the power of human connection, we can continue to thrive in the ever-evolving landscape of financial advising.
Andy Hart, a UK-based financial advisor is founder of Humans Under Management, a conference that focuses on the human side of financial advice. Andy will be speaking at the Humans Under Management South Africa conference on 19 September 2023 in Cape Town.