Years ago, a wholesaler could walk into an advisor's office with some golf balls and a fact sheet and sell their product. He could take the advisor out for a nice lunch or steak dinner and have a prime opportunity to pitch his product. But times have changed, and advisors are becoming less about transactional business. They no longer need to meet simply for product information. Most information can be found on the internet and advisors are looking for the wholesaler to provide the expertise and updates on information they already know.
Advisors are needing to meet the demands and turn their attention to the non-investment side of their business. Add to this the increase in passive investment funds and the rapid increase of niche investments for retail advisors, advisors are only wanting to meet with their top wholesalers and only a couple times a year. Time is valuable and time is money.
About three years ago, founder and partner of FUSE Research Network, Neil Bathon’s view on the future of distribution was that wholesaling teams would be cut in half within three years and that the numbers would continue to drop from there.
To stay relevant, wholesalers will need to have a broader skillset that will help advisors beyond product selection. Wholesalers need to be knowledgeable in portfolio construction, asset allocation, financial planning, and practice management. According to a study, the top 3 services advisors are seeking from wholesalers are updates on existing products, new products information, and education on investment concepts. Wholesalers can no longer show up with a factsheet and think that is enough. Many firms have access to the same information and therefore many wholesalers will approach the same advisor. Advisors have many things on their plates and therefore choose to meet with their top few wholesalers while everyone else stays in the background.
If you are going to interact with an advisor, you need to be ready to offer more than just a product pitch. You need to show your value by demonstrating a true understanding of the advisor’s overall portfolio construction. Wholesalers need to not only focus on the investment side but to look at the client-side as well. The best wholesalers understand the problems that clients are facing and know how to address those problems and assist advisors in finding solutions.
Advisors will find the time to meet with the wholesalers they find extraordinary and who have the phenomenal skillset and understanding of what they are looking for. Find your niche as a wholesaler and how you can stand out to your target advisors.