The Envestnet Advisor Summit opened Wednesday afternoon with an address by CEO Jud Bergman, who greeted the 1,600 total attendees by addressing the robo-advisor challenge.
He used the metaphors of Metcalfe’s Law — that the value of a telecom network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users on the network — and the lessons of James J. Hill, the Great Northern Railway builder, to suggest that advisors and their clients will be the greatest beneficiaries of the digital, cloud-based network, as advisors “leverage their human and intellectual capital” to clients’ benefit.
It was Hill’s railroad, Bergman said he learned from his historian father, who connected lumber mills with home builders, iron ore mines to steel mills, benefiting many more people than just himself. That is Envestnet’s goal, Bergman said—to build connections between advisors and software makers, asset managers, broker-dealers and custodians. “As we continue to expand” the Envestnet network, “most of the value of that network will be created and enjoyed” by its users, he said: advisors and their clients.