Discussions about technology tend to revolve around the systems and strategies firms have adopted to stay ahead. At the 2017 Broker-Dealer of the Year roundtable in August, we asked the leaders of the winning firms to share what technologies are overhyped or not worth the investment.
Find all of our 2017 Broker-Dealer of the Year coverage here.
Janet Levaux, Investment Advisor: In deciding how you’re moving to new technology, what have you decided not to do?
Lon Dolber, American Portfolios Financial Services: I’m not going to live in somebody else’s technology vessel. The way we built our systems they’re custodianagnostic, particularly when it comes to the advisory side.
I think at some point we’re not going to be moving assets from one custodian to the next. We’ll leave assets where they are, and our systems will be able to get the data, manage the data, model, bill, execute.
If a client says, “I want to work with this trusted advisor, but I’m not moving my account,” wherever that account is, they’ll say to that custodian, “You got to send the data to my trusted advisor.”
We’re building a store, like the Apple Store. Any advisor, any place will be able to tie into our store and use our systems, whether they’re distribution systems [or] modeling systems.
Right now the only advisors to tie into my store are those who are registered with me, but at some point maybe that won’t be the case.
Amy Webber, Cambridge Investment Research: One of our core values is flexibility. There is no clear winner in any technology category and this is at the advisor level, let alone the investor level aggregation, performance reporting, CRM, financial planning.
We’ve got over 3,000 advisors and there’s no clear winner in any of those categories, which tells us that it would be a very heavy lift to try to pick one and attach ourselves to only that one.
In an ideal world, we wouldn’t be dealing with the cost of integration. I think I said it earlier, but we spend $20 million a year on technology, and a significant amount of that is simply integrating with the various third parties that our advisors are using. It’s terrible.
Dolber: Integration is quite an art.
Webber: If it’s not good, they won’t use it.
John Burmeister, Lion Street Financial: We haven’t put a halt to allowing our advisors to go out and use other systems. They’re independent advisors. If they want to use Riskalyze or some other company, we allow them to do that, even if we have to go through the due diligence process.
That’s allowed us to keep expenses very minimal, especially when you’re looking at new regulations, like DOL.