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Virtual Advice: A Call Center Based Approach to Managed Accounts

Is your firm on board the Virtual Financial Advisor train? New technologies and changing customer preferences have created opportunities for a new approach to wealth management.

The traditional financial advisor model was built around the personal connection and long-standing relationship between an advisor and each of their clients. In recent years, however, advisory models have undergone a seachange. New technologies and changing customer preferences have created opportunities for a new approach to wealth management. The geographical barriers within the traditional model can be replaced in an emerging virtual landscape, with some of the largest wirehouses and advisory firms introducing call center based advisory offerings.

Drivers of Landscape Change

The aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with pre-existing trends like generational shifts and technological developments have created conditions that radically transform the financial advisory landscape.

  1. New platforms rolled out by major banks help advisors reach the mass affluent demographic. A recent study by Morgan Stanley and Oliver Wyman suggests that the mass affluent and demographics at the lower end of the high-net-worth spectrum could account for as much as 60% of the Wealth Management industry by 2026. These populations are less interested in bespoke services than the ultra-high-net-worth demographic that financial advisors have traditionally targeted.
  2. War for talent disrupts traditional FA turnover rates. Forbes estimates that more than four thousand experienced advisors have changed firms in the first half of 2022.
  3. Changing fee structures reshape the industry. The traditional commission-based model faces competition as many financial advisors switch to a fee-only model.
  4. Younger generations prioritize automation and self-service. An Alogent blog recently noted that 40% of millennials prefer self-service models over human interaction and a study conducted by Salesforce reports that “27% of millennials are completely reliant on mobile banking.”

These trends point toward an opportunity for firms that move away from the traditional FA model toward the more expeditious and self-reliant investment services of the new virtual model.  

The New Virtual Model

Virtual advisory has become a worthy competitor of traditional advisory due to a combination of existing capabilities. Sia Partners creates an operational diagnostic which can be curated to the business type and creates a detailed business case to substantiate a digital transformation plan. The model is broken into three phases:

  • Creating a target operating model design: Seeks to enhance the current state of the model through conducting interviews with SMEs, identifying pain points, & getting a current update on headcount & financials
  • Development of a business case: Look for areas of operational inefficiencies, establish pain point documentation, leverage expertise of key departments, & create case scenarios to support financial investments.
  • Financial recommendation roadmap: Update & finance existing project charters, construction of a migration plan based on defined key success criteria, & segmentation based on cost benefit, time to market & STP data.
Sample Output: Target Operating Model Roadmap

In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic fundamentally altered the service offerings of Wealth Management firms and geared them towards utilizing virtual advisory to a greater extent. The pandemic, combined with the capabilities of various remote tools such as Zoom and Webex, allowed for virtual face-to-face meetings; elevated online banking platforms, virtual signing tools, and cloud-based drop boxes mimics the in-office experience of meeting with an advisor from the convenience of the client's home — all of which have allowed virtual advisory to become a growth in demand practice.

Mission Statement


Virtual call centers create significant value for Wealth Management institutions:

  • Hiring remote advisors opens firms to expanded talent pools, reduced location costs, and aligns with worker preferences - 61% of the US workforce has indicated preference for remote work
  • Entry-level advisors can gain experience and establish a robust list of clients without geographical restrictions
  • Virtual advisory is scalable at a pace unattainable by traditional models
  • Provides the ability to leverage insight cards to establish context and track call history

Overall, the virtual call center model allows firms to better route and align FAs, resulting in productivity rates that are greater than conventional models, ultimately resulting in improved customer service, for which clients will pay a premium.

Tapping into the Virtual Advisory Market

There are several factors that Wealth Management firms should consider when implementing a Virtual Advisory model:

  • Crafting a distinctive value proposition and coverage model: Will the advisors be generalists or product-specialists?
  • Identifying, cultivating, and on-boarding new clients: How will the company predict which clients are more open to remote advice, and how will the firm develop marketing materials that emphasize the new advisor hub proposition?
  • Marketing the new value proposition in a compelling way, without cannibalizing existing channels: Will firms be able to create new and distinctive ways to create a sub-brand for the new model to attract new clients?
  • Re-engineering operational processes to work seamlessly and securely in a virtual environment: How will operational processes designed for branches be re-engineered for a virtual environment?
  • Using advanced analytics to optimize performance: Is the company able to adapt to heavily rely on the use of advanced analytics to improve lead generation and optimize client outreach?

Firms that have carefully considered if the call center model is right for them will be best prepared to take on the new opportunity.

How Sia Partners Can Help

Sia Partners has extensive experience working with leading Wealth Management firms in establishing a solid virtual advisory practice. We’ve built a team of partners and professionals with deep operational expertise in this field to help our clients get the most out of their technology, processes, and team members.

Contact Center Operational Expertise

With our global presence, Sia Partners is proud to have become a trusted advisor to some of the world’s leading Wealth Management firms. Clients across the financial services spectrum rely on Sia Partners’ industry-leading services to inform their business decisions and deliver maximum value to customers and stakeholders.

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