2020 was an incredibly disruptive year for nearly everyone. From the health toll of the pandemic itself to the economic impact of social distancing, the business disruption of work-from-home to the personal disruption of schooling-from-home, last year was a year of change for nearly everyone, whether they wanted it or not. And while the financial services industry escaped relatively unscathed with a sharp V-shaped recovery – particularly in contrast to the damaging impact of the 2008-2009 financial crisis and the recession that followed – financial advisors were not exempt from the forces of change that rolled through. A shift we felt particularly acutely at Kitces.com, with the total shut-down of in-person conferences (to which we previously had traveled on a weekly basis throughout the year!), paired with an explosion of virtual webinar events and a newfound hunger amongst the advisor community for (quality) online education.
In fact, as we look to the “State of the Blog” in 2021, the ironic reality is that last year was one of record growth for Kitces.com, with our Nerd’s Eye View blog readership marking new highs, our Members Section experiencing more-than-100% growth (as we added more new members last year than we did in the first 10 years, cumulatively!), and the Kitces team that keeps it all running behind-the-scenes more than doubling as well (to a total of 15 now, including yours truly!).
Yet even as Kitces.com had the good fortune to be able to grow rapidly amidst a challenging year, it has also helped us crystalize that, like any business that envisions being a ‘Small Giant’ (which Bo Burlingham defines as companies that try to be the Greatest instead of just being the Biggest), it’s impossible to serve everyone. Instead, we have to maintain a clear focus on who it is that we serve best, and focus our services and resources for them.
And so I’m excited to announce an update to our Mission at Kitces.com, which is now about “Making Financial Advicers Better, And More Successful”.
What’s a “Financial Advicer” you may be asking? Simply put, a financial advicer is someone who is actually in the business of financial advice itself, and whose compensation (whatever the form) is for that advice. Which matters, because it means that when you’re a Financial Advicer, the product isn’t the product. The advice itself, and the advicer delivering it, are the “product” that the client is purchasing. Accordingly, Financial Advicers recognize that it’s essential to continue learning and developing their own knowledge, as a means of reinvesting into and upgrading and increasing the value potential of the advice that they can deliver to their clients. And that’s who Kitces.com aims to serve.
In the coming years, our mission of “Making Financial Advicers Better, and More Successful” will come across four domains: Education for Financial Advicers in the form of the Nerd’s Eye View blog daily content; Resources to help Financial Advicers find (the right) solutions from our Master Conference List to our new CFP Scholarships List and our popular AdvisorTech Map; Research in the form of original studies on what Financial Advicers really do in delivering advice and being successful; and Training to develop the skills that Financial Advicers need to succeed, as embodied by the recent launch of our (first of many to come) Kitces Courses on “How To Review A Tax Return To Find Planning Opportunities”.
2020 was a challenging year for most, and there was no exception at Kitces.com as our value proposition and business model, too, had to adapt to the pandemic and its impact. Yet in the end, just as the industry was itself already in the midst of a shift from sales to advice, the pandemic has in so many ways simply caused the ‘future’ to arrive more quickly than most anticipated. Which means the 2020s are increasingly shaping up to be the decade of the financial advicer, and fortunately we’ve been able to emerge from the pandemic stronger and in a better position than ever to serve the financial advicer community. I couldn’t be more excited about what’s ahead for the business of financial advice and serving all of you, our Financial Advicer readers, in the years to come!