From their first book in 2002, “Virtual Office Tools for a High Margin Practice,” to their conference, Technology Tools for Today (T3), Joel Bruckenstein and David Drucker have made a name for themselves as the authority on technology for advisors.
That book “put us on the map as people who were following technology in the industry,” said Drucker, who had his own advisory practice for 20 years, and led to a series of monthly newsletters they’ve been producing since 2003. The conference followed in 2005 because, as Bruckenstein put it, “there was nothing really in our industry, which I thought was ridiculous because I was struggling with technology in my own practice.”
“Early on, advisors knew very little about technology and specifically about technology for this industry,” Bruckenstein added. Advisors have responded and have even caught up. “As advisors have gotten more sophisticated about technology, we’ve had to up our game,” he said.
At the 2014 conference, which wrapped up in mid-February, there was a big emphasis on emerging technologies, Bruckenstein said, with “a record number of new companies with interesting products. It seems there’s a lot more interest among people who are interested in building technology for the financial services industry, and more and more of them are targeting the RIA space.”
The goal isn’t to host a huge event every year—and really, “there are only so many people in a given year who are willing to come to a pure technology conference,” Bruckenstein said—but to “bring technology to the masses,” according to Drucker.
From about 150 advisors to 600, the conference has grown as a way to educate advisor tech users, but has also served the tech makers. “The sponsors at our conferences probably get as much out of visiting with each other as visiting with the advisor attendees,” Drucker said. “Many product integrations have grown out of the relationships that were formed at our conference.”
Bruckenstein and Drucker have even added an enterprise edition of the T3 conference to bring tech education to executives at broker-dealer firms. The second annual enterprise conference will take place in November.
The tech trends of the future should come as no surprise to advisors; they’ve already taken shape. Indeed, although Bruckenstein and Drucker spoke in separate interviews, they were of one mind on the subject. “Trends that are in existence now are going to continue,” Drucker said.
Bruckenstein elaborated, “The big trends in the industry over the last few years still continue, but they’re evolving.” Integration and mobile will remain major trends for advisors, they agreed.