As we reflect on 2020, we realize this may have been the most influential year in a long while, making major changes within our businesses. Our team discussed our learnings of 2020 and gave their insight on what they expect to happen next year for financial advisors. Give it a read to find out what we picture to come from an investment, client experience, technology, and marketing point of view.

John Anderson (JDA)
2020 – I learned that advisors who changed their mental models could grow in a virtual world. That workflows and truly integrated technology can keep advisory businesses functioning when we are not physically in the office — because no one remembered to bring home the operations manual when the pandemic started. I learned that personalized advice continues to be the most important and valued advisor deliverable.

Looking to 2021 – Advisory practices need to become advisory businesses to compete in 2021 and beyond. That means professional management, real marketing and business plans.  Social media will be more important than ever, as prospects who may not be able to meet in person will be checking out advisors’ business and personal accounts to see if there is a fit. Consumers will continue to drive firms to provide more specialized and personalized advice — a “one size fits all” approach to planning won’t appeal to them and they’ll skip over them in Google searches.

Matt Potter, Investments
2020 – Two things stood out to me in 2020: 

  1. The number of historically valid correlations and patterns within the capital markets that did the opposite of what we expected
  2. How the actual reality of a bear market is often less stressful and damaging than the fear of it, and how that fear can negatively impact our investing behavior if we let it

Looking to 2021 – I’m anticipating that many of the old rules still apply: we may discover that even the most robust market trends don’t last forever, and that factors such as valuations, fundamentals, and the cyclical nature of markets can re-assert their relevance very quickly. In the meantime, I hope we can all stay healthy and remind ourselves of the important things in life — family, friends and (for some of us) football.
Jerry Lezynski, Marketing
2020 – 2020 was the year when increased communication was essential for advisors to help inform, educate and calm investor fears during this unsettling time of financial markets instability, and political and social unrest amidst a pandemic.  And, advisors got creative with the delivery of their messaging, experimenting with new channels — video, webinars, Zoom meetings, social and more to supplement the traditional email and written word. 

Looking to 2021 – It’ll be the year of personalizing and tailoring communication based on end client preferences.  Advisors are recognizing a “one-size-fits-all” approach is not as impactful and engaging to end clients.  Advisors will continue to employ creative ways, using multiple communication mediums, but it will be part of a systematic schedule throughout the year.  Messaging will be focused on what’s most meaningful to the health, well-being, interests and goals of each end client first and foremost.  

Allie Carey, Client Experience
2020 – I learned that a strong, creative and nimble team is your greatest asset. The way that teams work together has changed and I witnessed some teams transition seamlessly and others sputter. Those that were able to transition easily continued to meet and even exceed their clients’ expectations.   

Looking to 2021 – Advisors who lean into their teams, utilize their strengths and provide opportunity for growth can excel. An engaged and committed team creates an unmatched client experience. 

Raef Lee, Technology
2020 – It was an accelerator year for advisor technology. Before COVID-19, many advisors knew they should be using video conferencing, as some clients wanted it. During 2020 there was no choice. Everyone had to use it, and it was helped by the fact that clients were on Zoom in their personal life as well.

Looking to 2021 – Advisors will continue to use video conferencing much more than they were before the pandemic. For most firms, a hybrid model will be used, with some meetings in person and some through video, driven by the client’s preference for that particular meeting. In general, this will change the client review meeting, which will become shorter and more focused on specific client issues.

J. Womack, Investments
2020 – This was a year that again proved that markets are unpredictable. The sharp increase in risk and uncertainty in the first quarter reminded us that we don’t know what tomorrow holds. It reinforced the need for discipline and a strategy to manage clients’ whose emotions may have the tendency to get the best of them, in particular in light of the market’s sharp rebound.

Looking to 2021 - Advisors need to be intentional about incorporating co-planning and coaching into their client management processes. An advisor may pick the best manager for each sub-asset class in clients’ portfolios, but if clients sell when volatility hits, they may not benefit from diversification and the discipline of rebalancing. Using co-planning to enroll clients in the process of managing their wealth and then reinforcing that with coaching at each portfolio review can lead to better outcomes over time. 

Shannon Gallagher, Social Media
2020 – I learned how immensely important it is to always have a back-up plan. At any time, things can change within your business and/or personal life and in order to successfully move through the changes, a back-up plan can make you feel much more stable. At SEI, most of our roles were able to be done remotely. Luckily, our blog continued to be up and running throughout the entire pandemic, with no hiccups!

Looking to 2021 – I see financial advisors making their social media strategy a major priority in the upcoming year. Because they’ve had to change their firms to run remotely, they most likely have seen the benefit of having a frequent social presence in order to connect with potential clients.

New Year's Resolution


Legal Note

Bear markets represent stock-market declines of 20% or more.
SEI and its subsidiaries is not affiliated with Zoom.
Investing involves risk including the possible loss of principal. Diversification may not protect against market risk.

Information provided by Independent Advisor Solutions by SEI, a strategic business unit of SEI Investments Company. The content is for educational purposes only and is not meant to provide investment advice or as a guarantee of any specific outcome. While SEI welcomes comments, SEI is not responsible for, and does not endorse, the opinions, advice, or recommendations posted by third parties. The opinions expressed in comments are the view(s) of the commenter(s), and do not represent the views of SEI or its affiliates. SEI reserves the right to remove any content posted by users of this site in its sole discretion.

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