Australia

October 2, 2022

How One Advice Firm has Navigated the Changing Advice Space to Create a Solution for the Next Generation of Clients

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Alman Partners is a pioneering Mackay and Brisbane-based advice firm with over 37 years of experience. Like many firms, they recognised the need to evolve their service model to find a way to connect with the next generation of investors.

“We believe everybody deserves world-class financial advice. But it’s obviously not a viable option for everyone, particularly those starting out with smaller amounts of capital.”

– Steve Lowry, Alman Partners

We spoke to Steve Lowry, Partner and Kerri Wallace, Creative Director/Executive Officer from Alman Partners, about how they found a cost-effective solution that provided a new level of value for their clients.

When they aren’t your ‘ideal client’

Like many advice firms, Alman Partners has a type of client they like to attract. These clients have specific characteristics that make their full-service advice model a great fit. The problem they were encountering was that these clients wanted their kids to get a head start on their wealth creation and, naturally, with the firm that guided them, to help their children in the first instance. They had also been successful with social media marketing and were attracting smaller investors eager to engage with the firm.

However, these potential clients didn’t meet their ‘ideal client’ avatar.

They had low balances and didn’t need full advice, but they wanted to start investing and creating wealth. Alman Partners recognised that this group of investors needed financial guidance more than anybody.

Steve and Kerri were also witnessing an additional and more significant problem.

Many small investors were seeking investment opportunities via direct trading platforms. They discovered that these investors were making potentially risky investment decisions guided only by social media, buying and trading without a strategy, and exposing themselves to volatile markets like cryptocurrency.

The lack of foundational advice, proven investment models and sound financial guidance meant many of these investors were experiencing disappointing results.

“Consultants we have worked with over the years say you’ve got to concentrate on the A and B clients and get rid of your C and D clients, which is a ruthless way of thinking about things. We see firms selling smaller clients, but long term, they will be their largest clients. We need to be able to engage with them, to provide them with a great education, so they become really successful investors. But do it in a cost-effective way.”

– Steve Lowry, Alman Partners

Steve knew they needed an investment solution for these investors that could leverage trust in the Alman Partners brand and would nurture these clients to become potential full advice clients of the future.

Bridging the advice gap in a cost-effective way

After much discussion internally, they were confident a digital investment solution was the answer. Still, the partners were conscious of making sure they chose the right solution and that it aligned with the Alman Partners’ investment methodology.

The firm has an internal investment committee and proprietary model portfolios, so it wanted to be able to replicate its philosophy on how to build risk and return dimensions in a portfolio via a cost-effective ETF solution. As an independently licenced firm, they were also concerned about how they would deliver a service like this in a compliant way and without adding cost.

They selected OpenInvest because the digital investment platform delivers many of the functions, features and benefits Alman Partners needed. One of the most important features was the ease of use and fluid and intuitive user experience for clients. In addition, by utilising the same investment philosophies and methodologies used for their full advice clients and offering this to self-directed investors, they can grow trust and authority around Alman Partners’ brand over the long term.

Managing the new relationship between personal and general advice was supported by training their team effectively. The operational team established uniform processes across the business, which meant that advisers could easily match prospects with the right advice pathway based on specific criteria. As a result, they now had the right solution to offer a sophisticated investment pathway to new investors, supported by their model portfolios and financial education.

Bringing their vision to life

A key driver for Steve and the partners taking steps to find a new solution was managing client relationships. They were worried about damaging relationships with their long-term clients by turning away children from their full-service advice model. Looking further into the future, they knew they could be disenfranchising future investors who had accumulated wealth and were also going to be the recipients of their parent’s inheritance, with more than $3.5 trillion expected to pass intergenerationally in the coming years.

It was crucial to Steve Lowry and the Alman Partners team to be true to their vision: lead, educate and inspire.

The new solution has brought that vision to life via the OpenInvest content publishing feature. The team can cost-effectively deliver financial content directly via the platform, which educates new investors and builds authority and confidence in the Alman Partners brand.

An unexpected outcome from this initiative has been a transformation in their approach to working with accountant referral partners. Accountants can often be reluctant to refer clients for full financial advice, meaning they miss out on further expert guidance or try to navigate an investment strategy independently. This new service provides accountant partners with a better pathway for referring potential clients.

“We want to be able to educate people and lead them into a path where they can make smart financial decisions. And many of the articles published at this stage have been around investment fundamentals, getting people to understand how the markets work, the different options available, and why our platform is a suitable choice for them.”

– Kerri Wallace, Alman Partners

The results? Alman Partners have seen growth in its client base and quality referrals from its partners. The best outcome has been their ability to guide the next generation of investors with the proper education and a sophisticated investment platform that can grow with their wealth.

Implementation Tips from Alman Partners

  • Understand how the platform fits into your overall business – be clear on how it works with your current service offerings and processes, and train your team on when and how to deliver.
  • Research, ask questions, and make sure you understand the platform before launching – it is an extension of your business, and you need to have the same critical eye as you do with all your solutions.
  • Keep your eye on the ball throughout the process – know each step a client takes; understand the communications they receive and make sure the experience is working well.
  • Get on the front foot in educating your professional indemnity insurance underwriters – ensure they understand all facets of the service, and the compliance and licensing requirements.

If you would like to know more about how this service could help your firm serve new markets and improve your growth opportunities, reach out to us at OpenInvest for a discussion.

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