In a series of blog posts, we have been highlighting the 2019 Essential Advisor award winners. Each interview is intended to provide insight into the award recipient’s career, their advice for their peers, and their thoughts on industry best practices and what the future may hold. Learn more about the Essential Advisor™ Certification program and read our first two interviews here and here.
The interview below features Matthew B. Schechner, President of Essential Advisory Services, a judgment-free financial planning firm empowering families and individuals through guidance, education, and a warm sense of community. The firm’s goal-based financial planning method is designed to provide comprehensive financial security that is built to adapt and grow wealth through all of life’s transitions.
How would you describe your firm’s value proposition?
Our firm believes that a one-dimensional view of a family is inadequate. Family-first, goal-based planning is the bedrock of our philosophy, and we favor a multi-generational approach to planning. As a society, we are inundated with noise and conflict. We have the ability to cut through these distractions and help investors develop a plan that is specifically tailored for them and their loved ones. Our process is exhaustive at every step. We begin at investigative exploration, which leads to analysis, strategic design, and implementation, followed by monitoring and review.
What is your definition of “essential advisor?”
An essential advisor is dedicated to communicating efficiently and clearly, using technology to strategically maximize and leverage the time given to us by our clients – time is the most valuable commodity that we all have. An essential advisor is also an educator, helping to ensure that investors understand the process, costs, and overall strategy.
What does winning the Essential Advisor award mean to you?
It’s always a wonderful experience to be recognized by your peers. In this case, it was particularly special; without Bill Crager’s inspiration and Envestnet’s support, I would not be where I am today.
What skills do you believe best position advisors for success?
It’s critical for advisors to demonstrate integrity, competency, and compassion. I believe that these characteristics should be considered just as valuable as the standard skills an advisor should possess.
How do you and your firm leverage technology to better serve your clients?
With the wide range of tools available today, there are so many opportunities for us to integrate ourselves into our clients’ lives – CRM, social media, websites, investment monitoring, data aggregation, video conferencing, etc. Effectively using technology could result in significant savings in both time and money. We strive to stay aware of what’s available and how it could serve our business and our clients; it’s important to stay educated on opportunities for new technology integrations and develop and maintain vendor relationships to support those integrations. It’s also important to leverage the right technology for the right audience.
What role does Envestnet play in helping you to deliver better outcomes for your clients?
Envestnet is more than just a vendor; in fact, I would say they’ve become an “essential” partner. As a result, our clients experience a highly professional, comprehensive, and detail-oriented experience.
What are the biggest challenges facing your clients as they seek to achieve financial wellness?
Very simply, the biggest challenge is themselves! We’re all our own worst enemies, which is why it’s so important to seek out reliable, conflict-free counsel.
What changes do you see taking place within the industry in the next three-to-five years?
Over the next five years, I see a continued trajectory of transparency, fee compression, and an increased use of fintech.
As the industry evolves – and investors along with it – how are you and your firm navigating the changing landscape?
Message delivery is a significant challenge in the current landscape. There are many ways to communicate with clients, and success often depends on how you communicate with each audience. A baby boomer has a different set of preferences than a millennial. Moving into the future, Generation X and millennials will be key targets. To reach them, we’ll focus on social media. We’ll craft a proactive, dynamic approach to interface with clients and prospects – beyond just posting messages. Authenticity and consistency are key. We’ll need to stay true to our core value message to convey that we’re trustworthy.
If you could offer one piece of advice to your peers, what would it be?
Adopt a client-first, advisor-last attitude.
If you could offer one piece of advice to investors, what would it be?
Work hard, play hard, save harder!
To hear more from Matthew, listen to his interview with Eric Dye, host of the Enterprise Radio podcast, where they discuss the value of goal-based planning for small business owners.
Advisors are invited to apply to join the Essential Advisor Certification program each year at the Advisor Summit. To learn more about the program and access valuable resources, visit our website.
The information, analysis and opinions expressed herein are for informational purposes only and do not necessarily reflect the views of Envestnet. These views reflect the judgment of the author as of the date of writing and are subject to change at any time without notice. Nothing contained in this piece is intended to constitute legal, tax, accounting, securities, or investment advice, nor an opinion regarding the appropriateness of any investment, nor a solicitation of any type.