The 2013 Technology Tools for Today (T3) conference ran last week in Miami, Fla. Entering its eighth year, the event is hosted by financial advisor technology consultants Joel Bruckenstein and David Drucker, and continues to grow, as this year’s conference included more than 600 total attendees and more than 75 companies (generally handpicked by Bruckenstein and Drucker) that provide technology-related solutions for advisors. This means it’s by far be the largest advisor-centric technology conference of the year.
And notwithstanding how the event has grown, the reality is that the conference still has ample room to expand further, given that several problem areas for advisors still had relatively few solutions present. In fact, it was somewhat ironic that the conference had a thriving Twitter hash tag but only one provider of social media archiving tools.
In looking among the vendors and solutions available at the conference, several clear themes emerged, including an ongoing shift to web-based “cloud” solutions, the rising trend of software integration around CRM as the hub, and the availability of software on mobile devices. But perhaps one of the most striking themes heard from advisors in the hallways at this year’s conference is simply that the available technology solutions have become so numerous, now one of the greatest challenges is just choosing among them all.
To say the least, the T3 conference is now a permanent “fixture” of the financial advisor conference space, and the growth of the event suggests the future still looks bright, both for the conference itself and the growth of technology solutions for advisors.
The Ongoing Shift to the Cloud
Although not all financial advisors run their businesses using web-based “cloud” software, the strongest growth in the world of advisor software has clearly been toward cloud solutions, from MoneyGuidePro and eMoney Advisor for financial planning software (with NaviPlan slowly migrating to the cloud over the past two years), to Redtail and Salesforce for CRM (with Junxure migrating to the cloud this year). Numerous vendors at the T3 conference were available to provide web-based platforms for portfolio management and reporting software.
Notwithstanding the shift to the cloud from vendors, though, the theme of several general sessions at the conference made it clear that most companies still find themselves needing to explain and justify why a cloud-based solution is superior to the advisor’s traditional in-office on-servers-and-local-computers approach to technology.
The discussion ranged from how most quality cloud solutions really are far more secure for data than an advisor’s own office, to the cost efficiencies for advisors to get out of the business of buying and maintaining their own server hardware, to the productivity of being able to access and interact with key information from anywhere (such as pulling up client portfolio or financial plan information directly from a tablet in a client meeting, or being able to record important notes and assign client tasks to staff members the moment you walk out of the meeting). In addition, several speakers noted the disaster recovery benefits of cloud technology solutions—several advisors that had been displaced by the New England blizzard that had preceded the conference, not to mention Hurricane Sandy a few months prior, noted the benefit that even when their local office had no power they could access all of their client information and data directly from their cloud providers.