Fearless Forecasts for 2022

Last year, around this time, I wrote a “trends” article that offered some hints about what the coming year might look like in the planning profession. Here’s a link to last year’s predictions.

The article started off whimsically, to demonstrate all the things we don’t and can’t know about the future (and some of them are pretty important), and then I opined that Zoom meetings will be transforming the profession. I offered some speculation that advisors may have learned the wrong lessons when their phones didn’t ring off the hook during the brief but intense 2020 downturn.

I predicted that 2021 would be a transitional year for managing an advisory business, and I expect this transition to accelerate and become fully formed in 2022. These are the changes that I envision for the coming year and beyond:

Recruiting wars

Many advisory firms have finally moved from reluctantly accommodating remote work under emergency conditions to embracing the business possibilities implied by the virtual reality. Some firms, of course, will insist on everybody coming back into the office. Others will instantly become more profitable by downsizing their offices and either rotating staff at modular desks or allowing their teams to avoid the commute altogether.

Either way, the year and a half of enforced remote work has resulted in a seldom-noticed improvement in internal management across the profession. Now that the work was being handled out of their sight, team leaders had to learn how to measure staff productivity differently – indeed, more accurately – not by whose face they saw in the cubicle at 6:00 in the evening, but how much work was actually getting done at these remote work nodes. For years, Gen Y and Z staffers have been asking for this kind of managerial shift: measuring the quality of the work independently of the time spent doing it. I’ve heard, anecdotally, that leaders and founders have been surprised at which staff people turned out to be more valuable and productive than they expected.