Advisors, Break Free from Geographic Constraints

Last week, Nike CEO John Donahoe said in an interview with CNBC’s Sara Eisen from Paris that much of the blame for the company’s recent lack of innovative new products stems from employees working from home over the past 2.5 years.

“In hindsight, it turns out, it’s really hard to do bold, disruptive innovation, to develop a boldly disruptive shoe on Zoom,” Donahoe said in the interview. “Our teams came back together 18 months ago in person, and we recognize this. So we realigned our company, and over the last year we have been ruthlessly focused on rebuilding our disruptive innovation pipeline along with our iterative innovation pipeline.” 

It’s debatable as to whether or not that’s the primary reason Nike hasn’t been as innovative as customer and investors grew accustomed to, but what’s not up for debate is that technology, such as Zoom meetings, make it possible for advisors to service and gain clients beyond the geographic area in which their offices are located.

With the various migration trends that have occurred in the U.S. in recent years, it’s probable that some advisors are already serving clients that moved away. For example, it’s likely that advisors in the Northeast have some clients with which relationships were established in that region, but those folks have moved to Florida. Likewise, advisors in California likely have some clients that migrated to Arizona and Nevada.

Clients Open to Working with Out-of-State Advisors

The point of the above paragraph is that with advisors likely already working with a few clients that live in another state, it’s worth it to pursue more of those relationships. The mental stumbling block is that many advisors believe that clients, at a minimum, want to start the relationship knowing they’re a drive, not a flight, from the advisor’s office. As highlighted by a recent ComparisonAdviser study, prospects are increasingly open to working with advisors located in other regions.

The survey “found that over 50% of Americans across various age ranges are open to working with a financial advisor remotely.”

That’s encouraging on multiple levels, particularly for advisors operating in areas in which there’s a glut of related firms. The data is also encouraging because it suggests that advisors that want to capture more business in wealthy locations beyond their home base stand credible chances of accomplishing that objective. Expanding geographic horizons can also be useful for those firms that want add more clients that may be going overlooked by competitors focusing on high-net-worth business.

“Traditionally, financial advisor relationships require in-person interaction; however, many firms are shifting to a remote arrangement. This allows professionals to work with clients virtually via video chatting, robo-advisor tools, and phone calls, if necessary. And, for clients with fewer assets under management (AUM), this may be their only option, depending on the firm,” adds CompanionAdviser.

Age Isn’t a Big Difference Maker

It’s reasonable to surmise that the younger would-be clients are, the more tech-proficient they are and thus, they’re more open to working with an advisor in another region.

The CompanionAdviser confirms as much, but it also reveals that 53% of those queried over the age of 60 are open to working with an advisor that they cannot readily see in person. On the other hand, some advisors may be skeptical of that data point, signaling that they might want to focus on establishing remote relationships with younger clients. Data confirm there’s merit in that thinking, too.

“Unsurprisingly, 78% of people under the age of 30 were open to a remote arrangement. Similarly, 77% of respondents in their 30s and 71% in their 40s were accepting of asynchronous financial advice,” concludes CompanionAdviser.