“Technology is the great equalizer,” Eric Clarke, president of Orion Advisor Services, says. “In our industry, technology has allowed advisors to go out on their own as independent investment advisors and still provide their clients the same level of service that the wirehouses have traditionally provided.” Advisors can provide robust performance reports, as well as branded web and mobile access to accounts, he continued. “There’s a lot that technology has done, and most importantly, it has allowed them to service their client as an independent advisor fiduciary.”
Orion Advisor Services, founded in 1999, currently provides performance reporting on over $70 billion in assets and services over 275 firms.
“With our platform, we’re definitely focused on helping our advisors run more scalable businesses using technology. We focus on helping them be more efficient, more profitable,” Clarke says. The great benefit, he says, is “there’s a real opportunity here for advisors to use technology so that they are able to enjoy their business again, so that they’re able to spend time with their clients and manage portfolios and not worry about the back-office administrative tasks.”
Technological changes happen quickly, Clarke says. “If we look back 15 years ago, we were barely starting to use email accounts,” he recalls. “Fast forward to today where advisors have the opportunity to use mobile technology to run their businesses. It’s just unbelievable the difference that technology has made in our business and the efficiencies that it brings to advisors.”
“We’re right on the cusp of this technological innovation explosion,” Clarke says. “Firms that embrace that type of technological innovation are going to be positioned very well to succeed in the future. The firms that don’t I think are going to be left behind.”
While technology has certainly made advisors more efficient and more profitable, the most important benefit, according to Clarke, is that it’s helped advisors get closer to their clients and solve problems for them. “It allows them to communicate with their clients in a much richer format. It allows them to report to their clients in exactly the way that investors best relate to their portfolios,” he adds. Social media is one such tool, allowing advisors to communicate with their clients in a more meaningful way, grow their business, build brand awareness and get referrals and introductions.
“In essence, [technology] has enabled advisors to spend time doing what they do best and effecting actionable outcomes for their investors.”
The challenge, however, will be in learning how to put technology to best use.
“The biggest challenge that advisors have got to be prepared for right now is figuring out their firms’ mobile strategy,” Clarke says. Half of Internet traffic is coming from mobile users so advisors need to create a website that is user-friendly and works for mobile devices. “How do they report and provide information back to their clients through mobile devices? How do they provide market commentary through mobile devices? I think that advisors face this challenge today and how they respond to it in the next 12 to 18 months is absolutely critical.”
While a firm’s mobile strategy is most important, advisors also need to learn how to use technology to further their value proposition, Clarke says. “They’ve got to figure out a way to use tech to enhance those services and their value proposition so they can be competitive as we move forward in this industry.”
Find out who was named on the 2012 IA 25 in Investment Advisor’s May issue.
Check out more extended interviews of the 2012 IA 25 at AdvisorOne.