The mysteries of held-away accounts are fading amid breakthroughs in data aggregation. With new offerings, advisors can pull their clients’ and prospects’ financial data from multiple institutions into a unified 360° view. But now that you have greater visibility into your clients’ held-away accounts, the question remains, “Now what?”
I’ve found that three areas are the perfect starting points for an advisor who has recently been given the keys to the held-away kingdom. The knowledge gained from your new access will have a profound impact on your client relationships, practice management, overall growth strategy, and ultimately your bottom line. Let’s get to it.
Calculating a client’s true net worth is the first step advisors can take. The math here is simple — as soon as you aggregate client accounts you’ll see assets and liabilities — but perhaps even more important are their implications. Is your client’s real level of wealth more or less than what they told you? Does their balance sheet look significantly different than how you thought it would? How will that affect how you advise them?
Furthermore, with this added visibility you can more accurately segment your clients and create a list of offerings tailored to each bucket — as well as a plan to propose and ultimately execute. For example: for high-net-worth individuals, focus on trust and estate planning, longer horizon strategies and tax implications. For other clients, you might focus on debt management issues, asset versus liability mix, spending pattern analysis and goal management strategies.
SHARE OF WALLET
Being able to correctly calculate your share of wallet — the percentage of your client’s financial life you oversee — can and should change your overall growth strategy.
Growth strategies that are solely based on new client acquisition are expensive. Between wining and dining, purchasing sales lists, marketing fees and the opportunity cost of time spent, an advisor can easily end their year in the red.
Conversely, gaining a larger share of your existing clients’ wallets is far less costly, and now that you have an accurate view of your position in your client’s financial life, you are primed to capitalize.
Is your share of wallet smaller than you thought? View it as an opportunity, not a setback. Remember that increasing your share of wallet is not only for your benefit. As you manage more of your client’s assets, your client will also see more success. There will no longer be hidden concentrations of stock or other assets that can pull your client’s total allocations off track and their financial life will finally be viewed and treated as a single, holistic plan.
CASH FLOW AND EXPENSES
Types of held-away accounts vary. When your client offers you access to their separate brokerage, pension, and 401(k) accounts, push them a step further and ask for access to their personal finance accounts (credit cards, personal checking accounts, etc). From this vantage point, you can assess your client’s spending patterns in relation to their entire financial life.
Knowledge of your client’s spending patterns will impact multiple components of their financial plan. If they have extra cash that they’re not using, you can set up automatic payments to investment accounts from their paychecks, bypassing their checking accounts altogether. You can also assess spending patterns, to better tie them to their goals — always a welcome conversation!
The three categories discussed here — net worth, share of wallet and expenses — are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the value of account aggregation. When it comes to financial planning success, knowledge is power.
Niko Karvounis is the Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Quovo, the leading data science company that addresses the needs of the wealth management industry.
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