Technology is so ingrained in our personal lives that it could easily be taken for granted by advisors who are satisfied to know what the cloud is. However, technology affects advisors in ways that go beyond their trading platform or CRM; it’s in their marketing plans, communication strategies and even, in some cases, the competition.
As technology becomes more innovative and integrated, advisors will have to find new ways to adopt it, but may also find new opportunities.
As the tech columnist for Morningstar Advisor and tech contributor to the Financial Planning Association’s Journal of Financial Planning, Bill Winterberg knows his stuff. Asked to identify the main tech issues that advisors now face, he said their primary challenge is distinguishing themselves not only against other FAs, but also against online financial advice platforms.
“You’ve got to be different by focusing on the intangibles of advice, including the emotional factors, the behavioral factors and the aspects of planning that can’t be systematized or automated by a computer program,” he told Investment Advisor.
None of those challenges may matter in the future though. As Winterberg pointed out, the breakneck pace of technological innovation may wipe out current trends in just a few years.
Greg Friedman used to say technology would never replace human connections. Now he’s not so sure. Personal conversations with professionals like advisors or psychiatrists can be done now using video conferencing or mobile chat. That’s a challenge and an opportunity for advisors.
“As you watch the proliferation online of advice dispensers of financial services, more and more are cheap and easy,” he told Investment Advisor. We dismiss it by saying it’s not really customized to the client, but more and more it is. Is it completely the same as going to a financial advisor in person? No, of course not, but the space is getting more and more crowded.”
Call it revenge of the nerd if you want, but Michael Kitces envisions a not-too-distant future where “technology-augmented advisors” are the standard for the industry. That’s not to say advisors will be competing for assets with the Six-Million Dollar Man, but technology will change the way they do business.
“One of the most noticeable things in the digital world is its wealth of analytics,” he told Investment Advisor. “I can measure exactly how many readers I got from a particular article, which helps everything from measuring the efficacy of marketing and making good strategic decisions to doing good time management. These are things we couldn’t measure effectively in the past. That‘s one of the hidden virtues to the business being more digital. We can track and measure in a way we couldn’t before.”
The website for Nouriel Roubini’s firm, Roubini Global Economics, has attracted leading voices on political and economic affairs. It’s also been named one of the best economics Web resources by BusinessWeek, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal and The Economist.
With that kind of online cachet, it might be a surprise to see him so active on decidedly less prestigious social media sites, but Roubini’s significant presence in the industry is no less diminished on Twitter, where he has almost a quarter of a million followers (and we were proud when we hit 2,000).