June 20, 2011

Use of iPads, Other Tablets, Rises Among Advisors

Quarter of advisors use tablet at work

Electronic tablets, like iPads, are a runaway success among financial advisors, according to an SEI Quick Poll released Thursday. One in four advisors say they already use an electronic tablet for client and prospect meetings, and nearly half say they’re thinking of using one.

Wayne Withrow, executive vice president and SEI Advisor Network business unit leader, noted that advisors are “always quick to adopt new technologies that will help them increase firm profitability.”

Wayne Withrow, Executive Vice President, SEI NetworkAdvisors are choosing tablets because they allow them to be more efficient, Withrow told AdvisorOne. They can use them while they’re on the road. “Tablets are an active communication tool,” Withrow (left) said. “They’re not replacing desktops, but they’re portable and have a longer battery life” than laptops. One of the drawbacks, though, is limited functionality. “They can’t print from a tablet, or crunch significant numbers,” making them better suited for communication than actual planning tasks, Withrow said. 

Dan Skiles, executive vice president of Shareholders Service Group and a regular contributor to Investment Advisor, concurred, calling tablets "additive technology."

"I don’t believe that they've reached the level where they replace the advisors' primary desktop/laptop computer," Skiles told AdvisorOne. "However, I know a number of advisors who now take their iPad home each night or on a trip versus their laptop. The battery life, ease of using the tablet, presentation quality, overall mobility and quick access to information are just a couple of the benefits."

“By all accounts, the electronic tablet is a transformative tool for financial advisors, changing the way they run their business and how they work with clients,” Steve Onofrio, managing director of SEI Advisor Network, said in a statement. “From our perspective, electronic tablets have the ability to decrease business costs, increase the quality and consistency of materials, and deliver access to information from anywhere. They’re becoming true game-changers in an advisor’s practice, radically improving both the client experience and operational efficiencies.”

Of the technology concerns facing advisors, security doesn’t seem to be one of them. Just 3% said they can’t use a tablet due to compliance restrictions.

While advisors seem to show an eagerness for this technology, other aspects are causing concern. Half of advisors said lack of integration in the technology they use is a key challenge. Overly complex technology and working with multiple vendors were also cited as key challenges to advisors.

SEI also identified client concerns as reported by their advisors. The federal deficit dominates clients concerns, according to SEI. Concerns regarding inflation, interest rates, gas prices, the housing market and even unemployment rank much lower. 

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