Why wealth managers need to move from a lone wolf to a team player

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Financial advisers have largely seen themselves as solo-businesses within the institutions where they reside. They have their clients to whom they typically charge commission on a fairly traditional set of services. A common attitude is “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” However, the wealth management industry is moving towards fee-based, customized services that provide a larger marginal value to investors.

In a world where some people prefer prefer to work with automated investment services such as robo-advisers than human wealth managers, the onus is on financial advisers to show their value to clients in an increasingly crowded competitive landscape

In a traditionally lone wolf industry, one area where many are predictably falling short is collaboration with colleagues, service providers and peers across the industry. Every financial services organisation will talk about the importance of teamwork in those they recruit - they're becoming more important among wealth managers.

Here is how wealth management professionals should think about changing the way they work.

1. Do away with the hierarchies 

Rigid hierarchies and verticals are giving way to flat teams in most organisations outside of financial services. Advisers will need to work across their organization to help clients find the best investment advice and products, even if that means they need support from different experts or if ultimately they themselves aren’t best suited to serve a specific client.

2. Embrace the competition 

The rise of the sharing economy, outsourcing and freelancing mean that more of us will be attached to multiple teams across organizational boundaries. Advisers working in the independent broker-dealer or registered investment adviser (RIA) space are subject to industry consolidation and reorganization – you may need to learn how to collaborate with people who were once your competitors.

3. Technology is your friend, use it

Technology gives us new flexibility to connect with colleagues internationally. Your permanent team might be in an office across the country, but they are also a Skype call or chat message away. The ability to effectively collaborate virtually can give advisers an edge not only with their clients, but with internal teams as well.

4. Get agile

More businesses are finding value in the Hollywood model of work, where loose networks of specialists come together rapidly to perform short-term projects and disband just as quickly, only to be reassembled on the next project. As the financial services industry as a whole is trying to find new ways to deliver value and increase profitability, advisers should seek out ways to enhance their own offerings by working frequently with colleagues, consultants and service providers.

To stay competitive, financial advisers need to evolve. Gone are the days of running their own mini-empires within larger organizations, that followed them wherever they went. The need is higher than ever to make a case for value to investors via new products, tools, and processes. The way to effectively make that case is by teaming across organizational boundaries to create unique solutions that outperform the competition.

Dr. Mario Moussa, Dr. Derek Newberry and Madeline Boyer are the authors of Committed Teams: Three Steps to Inspiring Passion and Performance. Dr. Moussa teaches in the executive programs at Wharton School of Executive Education. Dr. Newberry and Boyer are lecturers at the Wharton School of Business and senior consultants at Percipient Partners.

Photo credit: teamwork/Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Thinkstock.

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