The 2020 Technology Tools for Today (T3) Advisor Conference, held last month in San Diego, California, featured a large gathering of financial advisors and representatives across the fintech industry attending the two-and-a-half-day conference, which showcased this year’s theme of “Acceleration and the Pace of Change.” Hosted by Joel Bruckenstein and his team from T3 Consulting, the conference covered everything from how custodians are keeping ahead of the technology curve to the latest in portfolio management and reporting solutions, and from the latest in financial planning software innovations, to marketing tools, billing applications, and the importance of a solid cybersecurity plan.
In this guest post, Craig Iskowitz – CEO and founder of Ezra Group, a financial technology consulting firm – summarizes this year’s conference highlights with his signature Twitter-driven recap, kicking off with presentation highlights from custodial innovators such as Altruist CEO/Founder Jason Wenk, TD Ameritrade’s Director of Innovation Dani Fava, and TradePMR CEO Robb Baldwin, and from industry thought leaders from Fidelity, TD Ameritrade, BNY Mellon/Pershing, and Schwab, who gathered for a panel discussion to delve into the importance of understanding the needs of a diverse client base and maintaining gender equity in the workplace.
The annual T3 Tech survey, which assesses the software programs used by financial advisors, was also released at this year’s T3 Advisor Conference, and revealed that only 64% of advisors surveyed actually use financial planning software tools and even fewer (41%) use risk tolerance instruments, but that 81% use portfolio management tools, suggesting that many advisors are still not actually providing financial planning and remain focused mainly on asset management, instead. Other interesting results show Redtail capturing 62% of overall market share of all CRMs reported, with Wealthbox scoring at second place with less than 7% overall market share! Interestingly, though, more people indicated they were considering using Salesforce Financial Services Cloud than Redtail. And it’s not entirely clear how representative the survey really is of the broader advisor industry (as the survey link was simply open to any company that could encourage its users to participate and ‘turn out the vote’).
Other major highlights from the T3 Advisor Technology Conference included:
- Betterment For Advisors made its first T3 conference appearance, with Head of Business Development Tom Moore discussing the firm’s automated investing and custodial services, along with its rapid growth (suspected to be bolstered by the recent inclusion of DFA funds to their investment lineup).
- Broker-Dealer presentations included Cambridge CTO Nick Graham, who talked about digital transformation and emphasized the importance of creating a strategy before investing in new technology, and Burt White, LPL Financial Chief Investment Officer, who gave a keynote talk on the difference between running a business and growing a business.
- Several new and emerging Portfolio Management vendors attended and offered demonstrations of their full-featured application solutions, including AdvisorPeak, Advyzon, D1g1t, Envestnet Tamarac, and several others.
- Automated marketing tools are on the rise for financial advisors, as they often need help understanding it and improving their marketing processes. Vendors that attended and presented demonstrations include Snappy Kraken, AdvisorStream, FMG Suite, and TwentyOverTen.
- Vendors showcasing financial planning solutions included Advicent (provider of Naviplan and Profiles financial planning tools), Apprise Labs (creator of Lifestyle Studio by former eMoney Advisor founder Edmond Walters), BlackRock (creator of iRetire, providing retirement income analyses), Covisum, Envestnet MoneyGuide, FinMason, FP Alpha, PlantechHub, Income Conductor, and LifeYield.
- The conference also hosted a student competition, featuring university CFP programs from across the country. A mix of students studying financial planning and information technology teamed up with mentoring technology firms and were tasked to create RIA technology solutions addressing real, current financial planning problems. BYU Idaho (which was paired with AdvicePay) won the competition with a public-facing version of AdvicePay’s retainer-fee calculator for clients to use directly on an advisor’s website to calculate their own fees.
- Brian Hamburger of Hambuger Law Firm and Founder/CEO of MarketCounsel, talked about cybersecurity, and stressed the importance of adequate training and adherence to compliance as good business practices, and also as basic requirements to simply maintain goodwill with clients.
- Fidelity’s ESG Product Manager Hannah Lippe explained the similarities and differences between Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) Investing, Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) and Impact Investing, and how advisors can use these practices to strengthen client relationships.
Ultimately, the 2020 T3 Advisor Conference brought together vendors, industry thought leaders, financial advisors, and students with the shared goal of gaining insight into the fast-paced growth and change of the financial planning industry, along with learning about new technology tools available to help financial planning businesses flourish efficiently and profitably. In line with this year’s theme, there was an expansive array of new and upcoming technology solutions for current and emerging issues faced by today’s financial advisors, no matter the size of the firm.