The 2024 Technology Tools for Today (T3) Advisor Conference, held last month in Las Vegas, Nevada, featured a large gathering of financial advisors and representatives from across the fintech industry. Hosted by Joel Bruckenstein and his team from T3 Consulting, the conference focused heavily on the relationship between financial advice and its accompanying fintech, covering everything from how AI and other tech developments are changing the advisor landscape in unprecedented ways to the importance of stringent cybersecurity measures, tech-stack integrations that actually work together cohesively and seamlessly, and the value of retaining the human essence in a wealth management landscape that is constantly moving forward.
In this guest post, Craig Iskowitz – CEO and founder of Ezra Group, a financial technology consulting firm – highlights this year's conference with his signature Twitter-driven recap, featuring presentations on the compelling paradox of AI; as while AI has become increasingly associated with overcoming human limitations with its efficiency, accuracy, and convenience, its weakness actually lies in its lack of humanity and inability to establish human connections. For example, Snappy Kraken emphasized how delegating tasks to AI tools can increase efficiency beyond what advisors can do on their own, and TradePMR shared their own (surprising) experience that their highly skilled personal concierges were actually AI bots; however, both companies conceded that technology can only go so far without a human relationship acting as the 'engine' for all of these (automated) pieces.
A continual thread through the conference was the ongoing effort to build a truly cohesive tech stack. In the wake of an AdvisorTech boom over the last decade, many advisors have all the tools they need to build truly comprehensive solutions for their clients. However, as Pershing Wove's Ainslie Simmonds points out, 65% of affluent investors are willing to leave their advisors if they do not offer an integrated tech experience – and in fact, having interoperable tech was a key component to growth.
Other major highlights from the T3 Advisor Technology Conference included:
- Several speakers, such as Craig Ramsey and Rich Cancro of Advisor Engine, emphasized how processes are quickly changing in the new face of technology, and FP Alpha emphasized that right now presents a better opportunity than ever to reexamine old practices to see what can be simplified, automated, or altered.
- At the same time, Morningstar's CEO Kunal Kapoor highlighted that efficiency comes with a greater demand towards personalization, and Orion's new CEO Nataline Wolfsen also spoke of the importance of aligning technology with the human elements of trust, shared values, and personal understanding.
- Apex Fintech Solutions noted that the average advisor rings in at a cool 97% retention rate for acquired clients, suggesting that net new assets may provide a clearer lens for growth than the more traditional AUM metric. In the same vein, they also highlighted that hybrid firms (i.e., those that offer both digital robo-advice and human touch) are growing faster than almost everyone else, with 24% of net new cashflows despite the low aggregate number of firms with this business model.
- Of course, with digitalization, integration, and automation comes cybersecurity risks. Digital hygiene, encryption security, and good staff training can all be enormous factors in the overall safety of the company, as explained by Patrick Hennessy, Schwab's Director of Business Consulting.
Finally, the annual T3/Inside Information Software Survey, which assesses the software programs used by financial advisors, found that tax planning tools are on the rise – with adoption rates jumping from 30% to 43%. Likewise, while CRM usage has slipped by about 5%, the overall number of advisors who use a CRM still remains at a dominant 92%. And lastly, as data becomes more comprehensive in today's digital landscape, cybersecurity rises in importance – and cybersecurity tool adoption remains on a slow, but steady, rise.
Ultimately, the 2024 T3 Advisor Conference brought together advisors, leaders, vendors, and students from all across the financial advice industry to share insights on threats, changes, observations – and, of course, to examine new opportunities in a constantly shifting fintech landscape. As software providers grow in number and their offerings expand in complexity, automation and cybersecurity will be central themes as client preferences continue to change. Which means that there is plenty of space – and demand – for technology to evolve, continually helping more advisors to be better, and more successful, and also allowing for the definitions of 'better' and 'successful' to grow as our technology options do as well!