Looking back at how business evolved can be surprising. Who would have guessed that having access to information on the go would become a major force of everyday life? Not that long ago, our technological lives were bound to our offices and homes. Now, mobile has trumped everything.

Those types of consumer demands are looming large for bank advisors and will define their corporate culture in the coming years. More to the point, the inaction of some banks and advisors has become the worrisome issue.

Meanwhile, the older culture issues also linger. Bank advisors often do not feel fully integrated into the team of the branch, the branch itself is diminishing and the referral process still has not been perfected.

Granted, some banks are making good headway. In this month’s cover story, you can read about one bank in the Midwest that gives money away to employees and customers who then must donate it to their favorite causes. Some buy groceries or used cars for other people. It’s expensive, but it definitely fosters a sense of community.

In other cases, however, advisors are resisting changes to their day-to-day job. You can also hear from industry analysts on why many bank advisors don’t fully understand why their banks are working to reduce foot traffic at the branch—and how it could actually benefit them. One analyst in our story warns of cases where companies were not quick enough to react to a new market, usually a new technology, with disastrous results: Kodak, Blockbuster, the entire music business.

On a personal note, I’ve heard some advisors and program managers boast about how “old-school” they are; in some cases, doing business with pen and paper.  Not exactly the mind-set that’s prepared for the new age.

We have other stories this month on the theme of change. Contributor Todd Colbeck outlines a seven-step “roadmap” for advisors who feel stuck and want to climb to the next level (page 24). Step 5 calls for advisors to have different presentations (each just one page) for each product they sell.

Change of any kind is hard in business, especially when you’ve done things the same way for 20 years. But when the market is fundamentally changing, as it is now, it’s crucial to be adaptable to consumer demands.

Otherwise, you may be the surprise that comes to mind when someone looks back at the way the advisory industry evolved.

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