The co-founder of oXYGen Financial in Atlanta, which targets Generation X and Y clients exclusively, Jenkin has built his practice around several new ideas. One of his basic premises is that, as people live longer, they will have successive careers and retirements. "I think the word retirement is going to be retired," he says.
Jenkin intends to serve these clients - who are, essentially, the clients of the future - through each of these transitions. To do so, he has developed a new approach, a new business model, even new lingo.
"We don't call our folks financial advisors," he explains. "We call them private CFOs."
As the field of financial planning faces a period of enormous flux, Jenkin is only one of thousands of advisors trying to make sense of - and adapt for - an uncertain future. Over the next decade, the profession will remake itself around new client needs and market realities. If recent history is any guide, its evolution will probably be so fast and furious that some of today's great firms will disappear. At the same time, others will likely grow to massive scale and then face giant new competitors - some of which don't exist yet. The profession will realize its latent potential and begin serving clients at all income levels - and it will have to develop new offerings and business models to make that new math add up.
Financial Planning's forecast for planning in the year 2023 is the product of scores of interviews with a broad array of experts, as well as analysis of so-called super trends - economic, sociological and technological - that must be taken into account.
With more clients and more wealth to manage than ever, and wizardlike technological tools to help them, the planners of 2023 will find themselves in a new "golden era of financial planning," in the words of several experts.
However, market losers in the new world order aren't likely to see it that way.
"There is a very high possibility that, in 10 years, financial planning will be available everywhere to everyone at no cost," says well-known planner Ric Edelman of Edelman Financial in Fairfax, Va. He is referring to the commoditization of services like portfolio construction as online competition drives prices to zero. "The days of planners meeting with clients one-on-one and earning tens of thousands of dollars in asset management fees may no longer exist. Planners will still be needed, but they won't be doing what they do today."
Edelman's not giving up his traditional clients, but he's hedging his bets. He recently launched a new service, Edelman Online, which is open to anyone with $5,000 or more to invest. That's a dramatic drop from his previous minimum of $50,000, which is also comparatively low. "In case online proves more popular, I want to have it there so that I'm not left scratching my head wondering why everyone left," he says.
Like Edelman Financial, the largest and most successful firms of the moment are in the throes of reassessing their business models in anticipation of such changes.
Another such firm is Dallas-based United Capital. Founded in 2005, the firm already has $8 billion in AUM and offers online tools that anybody - not just their clients - can use to improve their finances.
"Nobody thought that we would read books on iPads and Kindles," says Brandon Moss, the 35-year-old managing director of United Capital's Dallas-area operations. "Nobody thought that record stores would go away or that travel agents would go away because of sites like TripAdvisor. We would be fools to think that 10 years from now our model is still going to work. It has to evolve."
RATES OF CHANGE
The magnitude of the changes on the horizon can't be overestimated. Underpinning almost all of them are monumental technological shifts. In the decades to come, says futurist Peter Diamandis, a single computer will compute at the rate of the human race. Technological progress continues to obey Moore's Law: that computer processing speeds double roughly every two years while the cost of that processing capacity drops by half. The intensifying firepower will increasingly turn almost every industry into a software-based one.
For planners, technology shifts will continue to automate and link the analytical, computational and logistical aspects of the job. And they will continue to push planning's migration to the cloud and onto mobile devices, where it will be "ubiquitous and ambient," in the words of Sean Belka, director of Fidelity's Center for Applied Technology.