While 2020 was the year that the pandemic disrupted everything, 2021 seems to have been the year where we all collectively tried to adapt to a more virtual working world and return to some semblance of normal. Which, in the financial advisor world, that benefitted from the dual tailwinds of rising markets and increased demand from consumers for financial advice, meant a new wave of growth for most advisory firms. Here at Kitces.com, we too adapted to the more virtual world of advisor education in 2021, culminating in what ultimately was a near-doubling of the platform and Kitces team, and the opportunity to reinvest even more into both our Members Section, and the broader Financial Advicer community that reads the Nerd’s Eye View blog.
And as a result of these reinvestments, I’m excited to announce the launch of our new Kitces AdvisorTech Directory. The Directory was built as an extension of our popular AdvisorTech Solutions Map, which originally started out as a way to categorize the breadth of advisor technology tools to make it easier to find and select what an advisory firm needed, but over the past 4 years has grown so much that now it has a nearly overwhelming number of solutions! Now, with the Directory, advisors will be able to search directly by category, see both the primary and ‘secondary’ categories that a software solution can address, and even build (and save and share) their own hypothetical tech stack. In the coming year, we expect to add even more to the Kitces AdvisorTech Directory, including pricing and major feature details of vendors, ratings on AdvisorTech integrations, and data on advisor adoption and satisfaction ratings from our recent Kitces Research study on AdvisorTech usage!
In the meantime, we’re also rolling out a number of new features for both our Members Section, and our broader readership, including the most-requested “Save Favorite Articles” feature (and a process to create a Reader account so you can come back to your saved articles later!), a new “Suggest Topics” area of the Members Section to request what you’d like us to Nerd Out on for you with a future Nerd’s Eye View blog post, and the upcoming rollout of Kitces CE credits for the new state IAR CE requirements that are beginning for some RIAs in 2022.
Ultimately, though, we are still just getting going with the ongoing growth of the Kitces platform. In fact, in 2021 alone, our team working behind the scenes to make it all happen nearly doubled (from 11 to 21!), and there are now 3 new openings to join the Kitces Team of Nerds (an Education Systems Manager, an Associate Curriculum DesigNerd, and a new Director of Advisor Research opportunity!), as we continue to execute on our four strategic pillars of Navigational resources for advisors, Education for advisors, Research on advisors, and skills training for the Development of advisors (and yes, our organizational strategy really does spell out N-E-R-D!).
All in pursuit of our mission: Making Financial Advicers Better, And More Successful. I hope you’ll continue the journey along with us in 2022 and beyond!
Introducing The Kitces AdvisorTech Directory And AdvisorTech Research
One of the greatest benefits of being an independent financial advisor is also its greatest challenge: choice.
As on the one hand, one of the biggest drivers of the move to independence is the ability to choose whatever technology solutions the advisor wants to implement in their practice, without being constrained by what their firm requires them to use. But on the other hand, there are now so many choices for advisors in various technology categories that it can become overwhelming trying to decide what to choose (or even just figuring out all of the solutions that could be chosen!).
Which is why, nearly four years ago, we launched our first “Financial Advisor FinTech Solutions Map” (now known as the “AdvisorTech Solutions Map”), specifically to bring together a list of all the available solutions in one single place. So that at least when independent advisors are trying to figure out what technology to use, they have a clear map of the choices that are available to them – categorized in a way that helps to simplify the process by being clear about a software solution’s “primary” category (i.e., “if you’re not going to buy it for at least this purpose, it won’t make sense to use the software’s other features, either”).
However, the challenge is that there has been so much growth in Advisor Technology – or what I’ve now dubbed “AdvisorTech” – over the past four years, that an ongoing series of additions to the AdvisorTech Map, both within each category, and of entirely new categories, has led to a proliferation of solutions that makes it difficult to use the map because of the sheer overwhelm! (Which is ironic, as the overwhelming range of solutions was precisely what the Map was originally created to mitigate!)
And so now, we’re excited to announce a new Kitces AdvisorTech Directory – a centralized directory of all the solutions listed on the AdvisorTech Map, but sorted more easily into their categories (so you don’t have to search for where that category is on the map!), and tagged for both their primary and “secondary” categories (e.g., if you’re using Advyzon for Performance Reporting, you’re notified that you might also want to use them for CRM, and if you’re already using eMoney Advisor for your financial planning software, you’re prompted to consider them for your client portal, too!).
In addition to the AdvisorTech Directory, we’ve also included a “Build My Tech Stack” feature, where you can fill out the tools you plan to use in your own Advisor Tech stack, which can then be saved for later reference, or alternatively shared with others (to get their feedback on your choices!?).
Our new Kitces AdvisorTech Directory can be found directly at fintech.kitces.com, or via the “Resources” menu of our main navigation from Kitces.com, and like our other Kitces Resources for the advisor community, are openly available without any “paywall” to access.
In the coming months, we plan to add a lot more detail to the AdvisorTech Directory as well, including information about pricing and major features of the key technology vendors, a scoring system regarding the quality of the vendor’s integrations with other key players (that we’re building with Kitces Consulting collaborator Craig Iskowitz of Ezra Group), and details about how often the software is adopted by other advisors, and the satisfaction rate of other advisors who use the software (drawing on the results of our recent Kitces AdvisorTech Research study).
We hope this will make it at least a little easier to navigate through the sea of Advisor Technology choices when choosing what to use (or replace) in your current tech stack!
Introducing New Features For Readers And Members: Save Articles, Suggest Topics, And NASAA CE
The Nerd’s Eye View blog launched in its current form back in late 2010, and after producing blog posts several days per week for more than 11 years, has cumulatively published more than 2,400 articles on a wide range of financial planning and practice management topics. Which means over time, the Nerd’s Eye View has become so voluminous, that we had to roll out a standalone Search feature just to make it easier to find what advisors were looking for, and then added further Search capabilities to the main navigation of the site so it would be feasible to Search from any page on the site. And we know that a lot of advisors still find what they’re looking for by simply going to Google and searching for “Kitces <topic name>”.
But now, we’re excited to announce some new features for our Readers to make it easier to find and especially to keep track of their favorite articles: specifically, a new Reader Login area that will make it possible for you to Save Articles, and to see a list of recent popular articles that you might have missed.
Members who are logged in will have immediate access to the ability to Save Posts. For Readers who are not paid Members, though, the feature will also be available. However, in order to Save Articles, you’ll need to create a Reader Login to the Nerd’s Eye View, which you can do by clicking “Create Account” at the top of any article where the Save option appears and entering the email address you’re using to receive Nerd’s Eye View email updates.
In addition to the new Save Posts feature for Readers, we’re also rolling out to Members the ability to Suggest Topics that you’d like us to Nerd Out on for you! In other words, if there’s a financial planning or practice management topic you want to get our Nerd’s Eye View take on, you can now submit it as a suggested topic for us to consider (or alternatively, upvote one of the topics that an advisor has already submitted that you want to see us tackle!).
In the meantime, our Kitces Education team is also working on getting Kitces.com accredited to be a new CE provider for the NASAA-driven state RIA Continuing Education requirement that was approved last year, and is in the midst of being rolled out for IARs in a handful of states in 2022, and more in 2023 and beyond. As with all of our Continuing Education credits, one CE program is eligible for multiple types of CE, including not only for CFP certificants, but also CPE credits for CPAs, CE for all of the various IWI designations (CIMA, CPWA, and RMA) and American College designations (CLU, ChFC, RICP, etc.), and self-reporting CE certificates that can be used for other CE requirements like NAPFA.
Stay tuned in the coming weeks as Kitces Education completes the new NASAA enrollment requirements, and begins to provide IAR CE credits for its various blog, webinar, and Course offerings in our Kitces Members Section!
Expanding The Kitces Team As We Expand Our Content For The Advisor Community
Notwithstanding the disruption of the pandemic, 2021 was a year of big growth for the Kitces team. We launched our first and then our second Kitces Courses (on Reviewing A Tax Return, and Social Security Planning), ran our first two Kitces Virtual Summits (on Digital Marketing, and Showing Your Financial Planning Value), amped up the production quality of our popular monthly webinars and Office Hours, and expanded our CE offerings with some CE for Enrolled Agents and offering CFP Ethics CE. Which meant a near doubling of the Kitces Team (from 11 to 21) that works behind the scenes to make it all happen!
In turn, it’s been the expansion of the Kitces Team that has allowed us to roll out new Resources for advisors (like the new AdvisorTech Directory), new capabilities for Readers (Saved Articles) and for Members (Suggest Topics), and a roadmap for even more site enhancements in the year to come as we invest further into our technology infrastructure that powers the back end of the Kitces platform.
In the meantime, you’ll also continue to see more of what you saw from us last year in 2022 as well. Our current roadmap includes two more Kitces Courses (one of how to handle Estate Planning Document Reviews for clients, and the second to be announced), two more Kitces Summits (again on Marketing, and how to show your Financial Planning Value, with a whole new slate of fellow advisor guests sharing what they’re doing that’s really working), and 2022 updates to two of our most popular Kitces Research studies (on Advisor Marketing, and How Advisors actually do the Financial Planning Process).
All of which are built around our four strategic pillars at Kitces – Navigation, Education, Research, and Development (yes, our organizational strategy really does spell out N-E-R-D!) – of how we aim to add value to the Financial Advicer community in the years to come.
As we continue to reinvest in the ongoing growth of the Kitces platform, there are several new positions now open as well, for those who have an interest in joining our Team Of Nerds. Currently, open roles include:
- Education Systems Manager on our Advisor Education team to run our LMS (Learning Management System), and support the administration and execution of all of our on-platform virtual events, and the associated CE reporting
- Associate Financial Planning Nerd to write educational articles on this Nerd’s Eye View blog to provide new insights to Financial Advicers on doing better financial planning and being more successful in their advisory careers or businesses
- Director of Advisor Research to lead the ongoing expansion of our Kitces Research for the Advicer community
(If you or anyone you know might be interested, please apply directly via our Career Opportunities page!)
As a part of the 10-year anniversary of the Nerd’s Eye View blog last year, we announced an update to the Mission of Kitces.com, from our roots of “Advancing Knowledge in Financial Planning…” to a more targeted focus on “Making Financial Advicers Better, And More Successful”. And as financial advice as a business continues to grow, I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunities to serve the Financial Advicer Community. Thank you to all of you for the opportunity to continue to serve you, and we can’t wait to do even more for you in 2022 and beyond!
I hope you’ll continue the journey along with us! And if you think there’s anything else we should be working on that we’ve missed, please share your thoughts in the comments below!