At his T3 Technology Tools for Today Advisor Conference, Joel Bruckenstein suggested on Tuesday Feb. 6 that in building better digital experiences for clients, advisors should ensure that those are good client experiences, using an example from the recent past.
“Five to 10 years ago, many advisors became interested in building client portals” with only middling success, he recalled. The takeaway then for many advisors was that clients really weren’t all that interested in portals. But the real lesson, Bruckenstein said, was “clients weren’t interested in using crappy portals.”
Therefore, Bruckenstein cautioned to software developers and their advisor prospects and customers, “Beware of ‘crappy portal syndrome.’”
At the 15th annual T3 conference in Ft. Lauderdale, a franchise Bruckenstein founded with fellow (and now retired) advisor Dave Drucker, Bruckenstein was a constant presence, introducing high-profile keynoters like Ric Edelman, Josh Brown and Tom Bradley or hobnobbing with the journalists in the press room.
This year there were nearly 700 attendees — up from 175 at the first conference — about evenly split between advisors and sponsors. The exhibitors included the most popular advisor technology vendors but, uniquely for an advisor conference, also many startups with interesting offerings in a section of the exhibit hall called the Emerging Technology Area.
Among the attendees were a number of leaders of major advisor technology partners. Were those CEOs there to explore M&As? Possibly. To check out the competition’s wares? Possibly. To wine and dine big advisors? Definitely.
As always, Bruckenstein was as quick to criticize “crappy technology” vendors as he was to congratulate software vendors who get it right. As is his wont, it’s not just Bruckenstein’s personal opinion (following extensive demos) that leads him to criticize or congratulate those vendors. He also listens to advisors’ real-world experience (as a consultant to “hundreds of advisors”) with tech platforms and applications, and he demos practically every new piece of technology for advisors (vendors are eager for his blessing) before passing judgment.
“The problem many advisors have is that they’re using 20th century technology to serve 21st century clients,” Bruckenstein told a gaggle of reporters on Thursday (Feb. 8). “That’s definitely a theme in this conference.”
Another ongoing theme is devoting quality general session time to technologies that may not be affecting advisors and their clients immediately, but likely will in the near future. “What distinguishes this conference from others [is identifying] technologies [like blockchain] that can disrupt the industry eventually so advisors can be literate.”
The blockchain general session with Magdalena Ramada, senior economist at Willis Towers Watson, was standing-room only for a topic that only with generosity can be called easy to comprehend.
Exploring sometimes arcane technology issues is important so advisors can talk to their clients intelligently about those technologies, which in the broader media are often painted with misleading, if not misinformed, information, especially when such technologies exhibit the kind of volatile behavior shown by Bitcoin over the past few months.