With major technological disruption happening in every industry, it’s natural to consider how the financial advisor industry will change over the coming decades. After all, the industry is unrecognizable to how it was a few decades ago. Here are some of the trends that will shape how the industry evolves.
People, especially the younger generation, are increasingly spending more time in the digital world including when it comes to managing their finances. Many in this cohort would rather communicate with their advisors over text, email, or video calls.
Artificial intelligence (AI) presents a threat and opportunity to advisors. AI is being used to augment robo-advisors and give them more interactive capabilities and personalized advice. While this could lead to some market share gains, advisors can also utilize AI to augment their own businesses by improving back-end operations, automating low-level processes, reducing expenses, free up time for client services, and boosting marketing efforts.
Another major opportunity is the massive aging of the population and retirement of the baby boomer population. As this generation passes, trillions in wealth will be passed down to Generation Z and Millennials. Successful advisors will be able to form trust and relationships with older clients and their children.
Finsum: The financial advisor industry is going to face major challenges and opportunities over the next couple of decades. Demographics and technology are two of the most impactful.
Direct indexing is a new approach to investing which involves recreating an index within an investors’ portfolio which combines the benefits of passive investing in addition to tax loss harvesting capabilities with the potential for increased customization. For these reasons, it’s been growing in popularity especially as it’s become available to a wider swathe of investors.
However, according to a recent report from Hearts & Wallets, a wealth management research firm, most investors remain unfamiliar with the concept. In fact, there is considerable confusion about what it specifically means. Many weren’t able to specifically delineate between ETFs and direct indexing.
Another challenge is that many investors believed that direct indexing was closer in approximation to active investing rather than passive investing and that it would require some sophisticated management. For those who were interested in direct indexing, the potential tax savings were the biggest factor.
One of the conclusions of the report was that the industry should consider renaming ‘direct indexing’ to something that was more definitive. Too many investors who would be good candidates for these products are dismissive due to an incorrect understanding of its function and benefits.
Finsum: Direct indexing is growing in popularity. Yet, a recent report on the category revealed some issues that may impede its future growth.
Financial advisors pour so much time and energy into building their businesses and cultivating high-quality relationships with clients. Yet, they often don’t put in a fraction of the thought when it comes to succession planning even though the implications are massive in terms of maximizing the firm’s value or ensuring that employees remain satisfied and business continues successfully operating.
For ThinkAdvisor, Buckingham Strategic Wealth’s MIchael Kitces shares some advice on successful succession planning. He recommends starting with honest and frequent dialogue between owners and younger advisors who may have expectations about their role in the firm’s future. Older advisors can also choose to transition at their own pace and may give up certain responsibilities while continuing to do the parts of the job they enjoy.
Part of this communication strategy is to be open about uncertainty rather than repeatedly changing plans which can lead to frustration. Another common mistake is to think about every decision as being binary rather than thinking about compromises between valid, competing interests. Finally, remember that succession planning is ultimately about maximizing the value of the firm in the present and setting it up for success in the future.
Finsum: Succession planning is the final major decision that advisors will make in their careers. Here are some ways to maximize your chances of success.
Exxon Mobil recently shared its long-term outlook on how it sees the global energy market evolving. Overall, it sees renewables taking a greater share but that more than half of the world’s energy needs will continue to be met by oil & gas.
It sees energy demand as being intrinsically tied with economic development. By 2050, more than 1.5 billion people will have entered the global middle class which comes with increased consumption of automobiles, air conditioners, refrigerators, etc.
China’s per-capita energy consumption more than pentupled as the country experienced an economic boom. The company sees a similar possibility in Africa over the next couple of decades. In total, it sees global electricity consumption growing by 80% by 2050.
In order to facilitate this, it believes that all types of energy need to play a role including oil & gas. Despite the belief of many that EVs portend a peak in oil demand, ExxonMobil points out that even if every car sold in 2035 is an EV, global oil demand would only drop to 85 million barrels per day which is equivalent to 2010 levels.
Finsum: ExxonMobil shared its outlook for the global energy market till 2050. Overall, the company believes that energy demand will continue rising and that oil & gas will remain integral for the global economy.
For Bloomberg, Ye Xie covers the aftermath of a disastrous Treasury auction for buyers. A little less than 3 and a half years ago, the world and fixed income markets were in a much different place due to the pandemic and the Fed’s aggressive efforts to flood the market with liquidity. At the time, the 30-year Treasury was auctioned off at a yield of 1.2%, while it now fetches nearly 4.5%.
Thus, buyers of the 30Y have taken a huge loss. In recent weeks, it’s traded around fifty cents on the dollar. Typically, this would mean that holders are concerned about default risk, but this is not the case. Instead, the price is so low because buyers have to be sufficiently compensated given that they can get higher levels of income in so many places.
Simply put, it’s an indication that these buyers essentially top-ticked the Treasury market. Longer-term Treasuries declined by nearly 30% in 2022 and have added to these losses this year as the Fed has remained hawkish for longer than expected. The holders of this specific note include the Fed, ETFs, pensions, and insurance companies.
Finsum: The yield on the 30 year Treasury fell as low as 0.7% during the depths of the pandemic. Now, they are close to 4.5%.
Demand for active fixed income has materially increased in 2023 due to a combination of secular and cyclical factors. Adoption is up due to institutions and advisors becoming more familiar with the new category, while recent data supports the notion that it can outperform passive at least in specific circumstances. From a cyclical perspective, higher rates and increased volatility are also leading to more demand for active fixed income products as managers have more latitude in terms of duration and credit risk.
AllianceBernstein recommends a systematic approach to fixed income in order to outperform benchmarks. It sorts through criteria to identify predictive factors which goes deeper than the traditional approach of duration, beta, and sector.
This criteria includes value, momentum, fundamentals, company financials, and historical market data. Many factors are only applied during specific market regimes when they have greater predictive power.
This strategy allows for increased diversification as returns are uncorrelated from benchmarks and other factors. They also typically have lower costs while allowing for greater customization to fit client needs. This sort of quantitative, factor-based investing is more prevalent in equities, but the company is looking to bring it to fixed income.
Finsum: AllianceBernstein recommends a systematic, quantitative approach when it comes to active fixed income. The key ingredient is dynamic weighing of quantitative factors.