There’s a platform to get you off the bench and into the game with the New Majority of investors.
It’s not just you. Most advisors are facing the same challenge. Your client base is broadening and diversifying. You need to provide more sophisticated, more personalized solutions. What’s your game plan? How will you execute it? The financial coach could use a coach.
Lacy Garcia, founder and CEO of Willow, an award-winning financial technology and guidance platform, sat with The Flexible Advisor to discuss her mission: To equip advisors with practical resources to engage with a rapidly changing demographic.
Like most enterprising businesses, Willow evolved from Garcia’s personal experience. “I started as an educator, coach, and a marketer before becoming a private wealth manager. I was brought in because I had a talent for working with populations generally underserved in our line of work — namely women, younger people in the midst of wealth transfer from their parents, and other various underrepresented groups.” Looking beyond her investments and estate plan, Garcia found that her longtime advisor was not able to help her navigate multiple financial challenges such as fertility issues, divorce, starting a company, and growing that business.
“I got a coach, who effectively became the first Willow financial life coach, and I the first client. From there, we cobbled together a model, which became this platform dedicated to supporting advisors’ efforts to better connect with and support women and other groups looking for personalized guidance and coaching. We call them the “New Majority” of investors — women, millennials, generation Z, as well as black and African Americans, Hispanic and Latin Americans, Asian Americans, members of the LGBTQ plus community. By 2044, these groups will collectively represent a majority in the U.S.¹ These communities have historically been underserved by the wealth management industry. We recognized new market demographics require a new approach to serving these clients.”
“You want clients to see you as the quarterback of their financial wellness.”
– Lacy Garcia
Making common sense common practice
"What's critical here," said Garcia, is that "they want advice. They want to work with an advisor. Among wealth management clients, women make about 25% to 30% more referrals. They tend to make more loyal and more profitable clients. We know that millennials and Gen Z are not exclusively going digital. Many want an advisor that they believe will care about them. Targeting this obvious opportunity would seem to be common sense,” she said. “Unfortunately, it's not common practice.”
With Willow, Garcia is working to provide a tactical solution that makes it easier for financial advisors to better serve and to grow their business from a diversity standpoint. “First, we help advisors attract, retain, and grow relationships with New Majority investors through training and coaching (as an approved CE credit sponsor). Advisors who become Willow certified get help with marketing services and introductions to new clients through Willow’s certified financial advisory directory. Finally, we help advisors and their teams to immediately diversify, through their practice and their team, through our network of Willow certified financial life coaches. In addition to coaching advisors, they can act as outsource members of the advisor's team. Serving clients holistically starts by understanding the scope of their needs, then building a holistic support team. You want clients to see you as the quarterback, if you will, of their financial wellness.”
New market demographics require a new strategy.
Today’s underserved clients will collectively represent a majority by 2044.
Holistic service starts by understanding the scope of client needs.
The goal: a win-win
Willow’s financial education platform is accessible to all consumers. “Since day one, we've had end clients coming to us directly for financial life coaching,” said Garcia. To be clear, however, Willow is not an investment manager. “We do not provide financial advice, but we have many clients looking for those services. That's why we created a partnership model with RIAs and financial institutions, including a directory to connect the dots between our retail and financial advisor clients. Independent advisors can simply go to trustwillow.com and sign up. Take a look at the platform. Explore the on-demand training modules -- practice management training sessions that are specific to New Majority clients. They are available for CE credits for multiple designations. You can also sign up and schedule a one-on-one, 50-minute virtual coaching session, which is also available for CE credits.”
Advisors are entrepreneurs by definition, running their own practices and building their own businesses. It can be incredibly lonely at times. That, said Garcia, was the real catalyst behind the founding of Willow. “Our model is about the power of coaching. I think the best advice I can give to any entrepreneur is make sure you have at least one great coach in your corner. That’s what empowers you to be better at your job and make better decisions. Having that sounding board, an unbiased person to help you to see things more objectively, better understand opportunities, and think through the pros and cons when making decisions.”
1 “Projections of the Size and Composition of the U.S. Population: 2014 to 2060,” U.S. Census Bureau, March 2015 (No further reports have revised this estimate of 2044 as the year for when the U.S. crosses over to a “majority-minority” nation.)
You can access the full discussion on The Flexible Advisor, wherever you get your podcasts.