It started badly on the tail end of the subprime crisis that began in the fall of 2007 and managed to get worse when catastrophic third-quarter results poured in, sending many of the biggest financial services firms straight down the crapper.The question is, where do we go from here?Analysts say the next year is going to be tough for advisers."What's an adviser to do?" said Kenneth Kehrer, the director of consulting at Kehrer-Limra in Princeton, N.J. "How can he encourage clients not to cash out their holdings when all the adviser's advice is proving wrong?"Advisers "are still sticking to theories, the experience and wisdom of the profession, while clients are losing confidence in them," Kehrer said. "We're all waiting for a comeback, but in the meantime financial advisers just look foolish. The tenets of diversification and rebalancing are shaken."It's small consolation that this is a crisis of confidence for everyone. No one really knows what's going to happen from one minute to the next, and no one knows when the crisis will end. The current consensus is pointing to anywhere from the end of the first quarter to early 2010.And at the same time advisers are trying to calm clients, their business may be shifting as the biggest banks digest their acquisitions and smaller banks try to accommodate a growing client base.One thing for advisers to remember is that the needs of clients and prospects haven't changed just because the market has they still need to retire and put their kids through college. Sure, the conversations are more difficult now that everyone's problems are magnified, but financial consultants must man up, said Heywood Sloane, managing director of the Bank Insurance and Securities Association. "Advisers can either do these people a service or they can run and hide," he said. "Those advisers who choose to help will be remembered when all this is over."In the meantime, advisers can add value to client conversations by explaining the problem as it evolves. For example, Sloane said, market volatility unseen since the Great Depression is driven partly by the fact that no one knows what anything is supposed to cost at the moment, and so every purchase is an emotional response that makes the markets unpredictable.Sloane said housing will eventually lead the country out of this recession. Current and anticipated foreclosures are forcing housing prices down, and eventually the cost of a house will get low enough that a prospective homeowner will buy."Until we get a net decline in population, there will always be an increase in demand for resources, so the housing market will stabilize at some point," Sloane said. "You can help clients understand their options by helping them gain knowledge."Chip Roame, a managing principal of Tiburon Advisors in Tiburon, Calif., said banks "will definitely hire more financial advisers."But advisers who were planning their own retirements have to drink the same poison as their clients. Retirement just isn't an option right now. Even independent advisers who sold their books to banks in order to retire and live off the proceeds are suffering. Now that their assets are reduced and clients might be a flight risk, their books hold less value.
Access to premium content including in-depth coverage of mutual funds, hedge funds, 401(K)s, 529 plans, and more.
Insight and analysis into the management, marketing, operations and technology of the asset management industry.
Have an account? Sign In