by Sébastien Malo
Competitive forces and industry trends have come to a head. Financial advisors are seated at the heart of an industry in constant flux, where they are faced with increasingly fierce internal and external competition, financial market automation, and demanding clients. How do you, as an advisor, position your business for growth over the next five to ten years?
The answer is more obvious than you think
Many industries have experienced periods of change and upheaval. Their response to such pressures has defined their success and longevity in the world of business. Leading organizations share an ability to predict what customers will demand in the medium-term and apply creative problem-solving to develop innovative solutions. This type of client-centered approach is central to design thinking.
Taking a closer look at design thinking
Despite the word design, you don’t need to be a designer to apply design thinking principles to business challenges. The approach aims to place future clients at the center of the decision-making process, creating space for innovative ideas to flourish. These innovative ideas normally stem from technical feasibility, economic viability, and human desirability.
Applying this approach to financial services
The premise of design thinking can be applied to any industry, including financial services. You can apply the following four phases to adapt your business to changing market conditions with the goal of reaching an outcome that optimizes client experience in a creative and efficient way.
1. Empathize with your clients
The first phase of design thinking requires brutal honesty. You must look at your book of business and try to truly understand who your future clients will be and what they will want. Business analytics applications can help identify upcoming trends, as can simply listening to client feedback and being open to change and new ideas.
2. Think outside the box
Once an issue has been targeted, a successful design thinking approach calls for ideas that push the boundaries and solve issues in innovative ways. For instance, an advisor has identified that millennials will want integrated portfolio management and banking capabilities in a single app. There is a plethora of ways that this issue can be solved, but technology is a key component, integral to all possible solutions.
3. Make it a reality
With technology identified as the driver for the solution, a mock-up needs to be developed. Advisors can seek out partners or peers in their organization to assist them in developing a prototype that can be used and manipulated. This step is crucial in testing whether the idea truly responds to the initial challenge.
4. Sell the idea
The final phase of this process is to make the pitch and get buy-in for the solution. Advisors are adept at positioning their ideas and using their skills to win buy-in from key stakeholders. In our above example, the advisor would have a usable solution that demonstrates the benefits and efficiencies created by an integrated investment and banking solution for millennials. Each phase of this iterative process builds upon the previous one, creating an environment that encourages the assimilation of new ideas and insights into the final winning solution.
Staying competitive has never been more of a challenge for wealth management professionals. The design thinking approach gives you the flexibility to identify and evaluate a business challenge with the client at the center of the solution. The approach is focused on placing the client first, and doing so lays the groundwork for a successful outcome.
The next time you need to solve a business issue, remember that “past performance is not an indicator of future results.” Design thinking lets you break out of the mold and look to future needs to develop better service today.