Sometimes I think that what we do in these pages, and what you do in your jobs, is all about adapting to change. Change in the markets and economy, change in your clients’ lives, change in the demographics of your prospective clients, change in the products and services you offer and change in your own lives. Standing still is not an option; that’s not what advisors do. (It’s not what journalists who serve advisors do, either.)
The independent retail financial advice profession is still quite young as professions go. You could argue that independent advice was born in the 1970s and 1980s from two major developments: the end of fixed commissions on Wall St. and the end of the tax benefits accruing to limited partnerships. Smart, entrepreneurial advisors tend to be business people whose ears prick up at the winds of change, whether that change comes from court decisions, revisions of the tax code or new technology.
Ah, technology. Desktop financial planning software was instrumental in making the indie advisor profession possible, and improvements in everything from CRM software to custodians’ and broker-dealers’ tech platforms, now more likely web-based (or “in the cloud,” if you prefer), have helped the profession grow to its current healthy state.
To continue to grow, to continue to compete, independent advisors need to embrace current technology and stay aware of next-tech (just coined that word, thank you).
In her cover story for our annual Careers Guide in the January issue of Investment Advisor, IA columnist and advisor consultant Angie Herbers placed technology in the next-gen context. “Just like 20 years ago when the industry had to embrace email, texting and online research,” Herbers wrote, “today’s owner-advisors need to embrace learning how to use technology platforms, online teaching and study groups, and integrate them into their firms. The $1 billion-plus firms are already doing it.”