New practice perspectives for 2021


Ajamu Loving, CFP®, Ph.D.


Nathan Harness, CFP®, Ph.D.


Denise St. Ivany

  • Senior Vice President, Divisional Sales Manager
  • Read bio

The year 2020 will not be forgotten. The COVID-19 pandemic produced crises in both health and economics. In light of these extraordinary events, we asked our team and practice management partners for advice that could help you plan and grow your practice in 2021.

Denise St. Ivany, Divisional Sales Manager, Client Solutions Group: A financial advisor’s responsibility has always been immense, and now with such rapid changes across all spectrums of life throughout the world, the responsibility might feel greater. Clients turn to their advisors for guidance on many topics, and demonstrating you are there for them remains paramount.

As you and your team review your clients, document what’s important to each and ask what they want their money to do for them. Research shows that as your clients journey through life’s complexities and adventures, they are most interested in staying on track to meet their goals. Are your meetings addressing that concern with them? How else can you be valuable to them? Do you have ways to encourage your clients’ overall well-being by encouraging lifelong learning? Perhaps they could benefit from technology tutoring, borrowing a book from your library, or your help with teaching their children or grandchildren about the fundamentals of personal finance.

We recognize the many demands you have as a financial advisor and would like to help you and your clients have a year filled with meaningful connectivity, resulting in enrichment for all.

Ajamu Loving, Ph.D., advisor education consultant: This tumultuous year has come to an end, and most people are eager to turn the page and begin 2021. Unfortunately, the difficulties that have marked this year are not going to simply disappear because the numbers changed on the calendar. There is still significant upheaval affecting the broad economy, and the menace of potential future lockdowns for public safety still looms. Fear and greed can often dominate and cloud our clients' decision-making abilities during these times. That’s where we can step in and create positive impact and potentially tremendous value.

The tendency to move hastily and alter investment courses or stop paying important insurance premiums can flare up during these times. This is a great opportunity for you to begin financial health check-ins with your clients. Talk to them about their previously expressed goals. Remind them that difficult times have occurred previously, and the economy has recovered. Likewise, remind them that political upheaval, while unpleasant, is also nothing new and tends to move in cycles similar to the economy. Inquire and make certain that their current cash flow needs are being met and assess whether they are likely to progress using your previously articulated strategy. If there are issues that require altering your client strategy, make those changes mindfully. Revisit and proactively move as purposefully toward any new goals as the available tools will allow.

When times become rough and economic difficulties create a storm in our clients’ lives, they look to their advisors as ports in that storm. Providing that calm, steadying influence is of high value, and they will remember how you made them feel better and act more effectively during these times. If you remember that people are more important than things and treat your clients accordingly, 2021 may present tremendous opportunity to improve, come what may.

Nathan Harness, Ph.D., CFP®, advisor education consultant: This year many of us find ourselves recovering from uncertainty and adversity at a global level, the impacts of which have disrupted a lifetime of plans and expectations. Prognosticating economic and social movement will not likely provide a cure-all for our clients as life takes on a new normal for them. However, some of our greatest value is made known during times of retraction and panic when clients need confidence in the financial path that lies ahead.

A new year can provide pause and an opportunity to reflect, remember, and reaffirm. Take a day to reflect on a question: Why did your clients hire you? This will help clarify and articulate your value to deepen trust and establish greater purpose. During times of distress, remembrance often exceeds returns. As you reflect on purpose and value, consider how well your clients felt remembered this past year. It is not found in financial statements or sophisticated websites; it is the human connection of feeling remembered when you are most separated from others. The old adage that trust is earned in pennies and lost in dollars is a priceless reminder that relational capital requires connectedness. Remembrance then opens the door to reaffirmation of the stability founded in the planning process. This can be a good time to reaffirm with your client that together, you built a plan to account for times of uncertainty so your client can focus on the greatest areas of importance.