Can using Skype, a smartphone, CRM and the cloud for storing your office data help you extend your career even as you tour the world?
For decades, older advisors happily retired upon reaching a certain age. Perhaps they sold their practice or groomed a younger partner, thus allowing them to bow out.
Today, however, some aging advisors remain busier than ever. Rather than retire, they prefer to keep practicing well into their 70s and beyond.
Fortunately, they can take advantage of technologies that make life easier for them and afford them the flexibility to work from home — or abroad. And as tech tools grow increasingly user-friendly, the learning curve shrinks and new converts reap the benefits.
“It’s a misconception that older advisors don’t understand the latest technology or run their practices without it,” said Dan Cuprill, a certified financial planner in Cincinnati, Ohio. “The new norm requires you to be technologically savvy.”
Yet advisors who spent their early years in the pre-digital age may not realize how mobile apps and cloud-based solutions can help. Even if they want to continue working well past 65, administrative and operational hassles of managing a practice can prove overwhelming.
“You don’t have to put in 60 hours a week if you have the right technology,” Cuprill said.
He created a system to build a profitable advisory practice in part by harnessing automation to generate referrals and handle administrative and marketing tasks. The system, Advisor Architect, affords him the freedom to manage his business remotely.
Older advisors can differentiate themselves by sharing the wisdom they’ve gained from long careers in the business. Some clients gravitate to planners who can put roiling markets in the proper perspective and who articulate an investment philosophy built on decades of successful experience.
“Getting older actually helps you,” Cuprill said. “You’re viewed as learned, as a sage. But if you want to stay in the game in your 70s, you need an automated 24/7 marketing system.”
He recommends that advisors post their educational content online — from e-books to white papers to newsletters — and use a customer relationship management (CRM) platform to produce an ongoing marketing campaign. With one click, prospects can read a compelling blog post — or watch an advisor’s short video explanation of a financial strategy — and schedule an appointment.
Advisors who stay active in their 70s invariably find that going paperless helps them operate from anywhere. As a result, they can enjoy leisure travel without abandoning their clients for months at a time.
“I’m moving everything to the cloud so I’m not tied to an office,” said Michael Fox, 74, an advisor in Cinnaminson, N.J.
Fox, who continues to work over 60 hours a week, uses Laserfiche to digitize and store documents. By snapping photos of documents with his smartphone, he no longer needs a physical file cabinet.
He tries to involve his clients’ adult children in their family’s financial planning. Using ShareFile, he invites the children to review what he discusses in meetings with their parents (after the clients give permission).
“I make the agenda and minutes of our meetings available to the children because I want to be the guy in place when they realize they’re going to inherit money,” Fox said. “I want to capture the next generation of clients.”
Another tech tool that enables older advisors to remain productive is video chat software. It helps them communicate more effectively from afar so that they don’t lose touch while on the road.
“Without videoconferencing technology like FaceTime, I couldn’t live the way I live,” said Russ Hill, 71, chief executive of Halbert Hargrove, an advisory firm in Long Beach, Calif. “I’m in Italy for two months a year and most people don’t even know I’m gone.”
Most mornings, Hill peruses a mix of blogs, financial journals and other online content such as Geopolitical Futures. He says his goal is to “extract what’s most relevant to our clients and our business,” even when he’s traveling.
Hill, who serves on the advisory council for the Stanford Center on Longevity, tracks the latest research on aging and medical advances. He expects more seniors to maintain their health and live longer, more fulfilling lives.
Two years ago, he provided stand-up desks for all employees at his firm after he read studies about the risks of prolonged sitting during the workday. He proudly notes that about 75% of his staffers now choose to stand for much of the day.
“Taking steps to solve the aging challenge will upend how advisors talk to their clients in the next five years,” Hill predicted. “If you look at financial planning software, they all have an end date. What if you’re wrong by 10 years?”