Technology is not just about Excel spreadsheets anymore.
Advisors’ use of technology grew exponentially in 2012, and that growth shows no signs of stopping in 2013. As tech keeps evolving, advisors are eager to use those adaptations so they can make their practices more efficient and open up more time to spend with clients.
The big stories next year will include a plethora of new mobile apps, of course, but advisors can expect to see other, deeper tech developments. These include improved platform integration, greater reliance on outsourcing and increased development of quick planning tools.
Read on to learn about these and other tech trends that advisors can expect to see in 2013.
What Your Peers Are Reading
1) More Mobile Apps
This year, Fidelity launched an iPhone and Android mobile trading application for RIAS, Schwab rolled out an advisor app for the iPhone, and TD Ameritrade added fund and equity trading via Veo on iPad.
And that’s not all. Financial Social Media President Amy McIlwain identified the top 10 mobile apps for financial advisors in 2012.
In 2013, clients will drive advisors to assign even more importance to mobile apps, according to Actifi Chief Executive Spenser Segal in a roundup of top 10 tech trends.
“It is important for advisors and institutions to realize that their clients are going to increasingly expect that the tasks that they can perform on their mobile devices with other businesses such as looking up information, contacting employees and conducting simple analyses will spill over into the advisory space,” Segal writes.
2) More Social Media
The advisory world may have entered the social media space with caution because of unknown compliance and regulatory risks, says Actifi’s Segal, yet “financial institutions and advisors are increasingly using social media including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Chatter and other services.”
Expect to see advisors enter the social-media space more in 2013. Why? Because FINRA released social media and smartphone regs last year, and brokerage and other financial services firms have had all of 2012 to figure out what it means for them.
In a sign of things to come, both Morgan Stanley and Raymond James have moved to embrace social media. Morgan Stanley said in July that it would allow its 17,000-plus advisors to use Twitter and LinkedIn with certain restrictions, and Raymond James in late 2011 announced that it implemented a new social media platform from Actiance that complies with FINRA regs.
3) Windows 8 Upgrade
Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system, released for general availability on Oct. 26, is designed to do good things like improve cloud-computing performance and work well on tablets such as iPad. What’s not so good is the money that advisory firms must spend to buy Windows 8 and the time required for users to get up to speed on the new system.
Dan Skiles, an executive vice president with Shareholders Service Group whose focus includes providing tech services to RIAs, acknowledges in Investment Advisor‘s November issue that being an early adopter of Windows 8 is not a quick and simple decision.
Yet Skiles makes a convincing argument that 2013 may be a good year to take the plunge and upgrade, if not to Windows 8 then to at least a newer operating system:
What is your firm waiting to do with technology? Are you still running Windows XP? Generally speaking, once an operating system release is considered successful, it is a best practice to upgrade. By waiting, you are not only giving up functionality enhancements, you are also missing important security improvements. Windows Vista was widely thought to be a disappointment, but Windows 7 has been very successful. If you’re still using Windows XP, put together a plan to upgrade to at least Windows 7 or be an early adopter of Windows 8.
4) Better Tech Integration
The lean economy and tight margins will be good incentives for advisors to integrate state-of-the-art technology into their operations in 2013.