No one can really see the future, but when asked what trends they see for the industry going forward, three Envestnet executives were willing to share their ideas this week while at the firm’s Advisor Summit 2018 in New Orleans.

Following with one theme of the conference, Frank Coates, CEO and founder of Wheelhouse Analytics, who runs the Yodlee Analytics group within Envestnet, said without hesitation that voice was the future. We’re talking the future when Alexa and Siri will just be “Computer,” a la Star Trek.

“If I could focus 100% of my time on one technology, one solution, it is voice, and that’s a productivity issue,” he said. “We are so bombarded now with so much information, so many devices, it’s becoming hard to stay productive and stay focused. The way we tend to work is we have a question and want an answer, and then we take action … Our lives are a series of actions, so voice is the way people take action. What we are trying to build is understanding what’s important, what the questions [and answers] are, and once the world solves this, voice will become — in next five years — the single biggest productivity tool.”

To meet the needs of the younger generation of investors, Andina Anderson, senior vice president of client relations of Envestnet | Tamarac, says the industry must give investors choices in how they want their information delivered. Anderson, who focuses daily on succession planning, identifying talent and how to attract the next generation of financial advisors, is especially in tune with that group.

“We’re focused on and seeing optionality or flexibility,” she said. “We’re seeing such differences in what advisors and investors are looking for: Some want voice, some want phone calls, some [don’t want] online access, others [want] all online access. We deal with all generations, all levels of wealth … and what we’ve discovered is it’s not going to be one model fits everyone. You must enable the advisors to serve their customer even if it makes no sense to us or the advisors, but they must have those options to successfully service a broad range of clients.” This also includes the type of advice needed — expanding the definition of advisor — which might mean providing credit or insurance advice.

Also thinking broadly is Colby Payne, director of product management for Yodlee, who was instrumental with Envision IQ and other tools that facilitate a smoother asset transfer process.

“I am more data-centric and network-centric,” he said. “But I think [the future is] an extension of data types, and as assets become more complex, like  cryptocurrencies, how does the investor want to see those flow [alongside] traditional and retail assets … It’s really the expansion of the definition of assets.

“Also, the demand for high-quality software and services shouldn’t be geographically bound. We will be challenged by our clients to become more internationally exposed. That can mean connectivity to those sources in other countries … That’s where we’re eventually heading.”

— Check out New Apps Appeal to Next Generation of ‘Anxious’ Clients: Envestnet’s Arora on ThinkAdvisor.