There’s also a willingness to spend big on these tools in order to grow. The latest Financial Planning Tech Survey finds that technology has become the top spending priority for wealth managers, outpacing continuing education, hiring, compensation and client acquisition.
But enthusiasm doesn’t always translate to success. That same survey found that advisors aren’t always confident about the technology they have chosen, and an Advisor360° study released in early November revealed that a majority of advisors believe their lousy tech choices have cost them clients.
The options are seemingly endless. But is that a good thing? Or just another hurdle for advisors to clear?
“For the first time, maybe ever, the lack of good technology is finally starting to frustrate our clients. And I think COVID had a ton to do with that,” said Doug Fritz, co-founder and CEO of the California-based wealthtech management consulting company F2 Strategy. “If I have to physically sign the documents (with my advisor) but every other experience I have, from the guy that mows my lawn to my dentist, I can automate or go on an app to sign something electronically … it makes us look like we’re the Flintstones in the Jetsons’ world.
“But how do you know where to invest your money? There’s so much choice that it actually does keep people from making decisions. We’ve seen that, and when you look at the Kitces map, it’s like an eye chart now. I can’t even read some of the logos.”
For Advisor360° Senior Vice President Ricahrd N. Hart, a great deal of potential and excitement lies in advisor tools that bring things like account opening, account maintenance and digital onboarding closer to the typical e-commerce experience.
“I want that simplicity. And then I want it automated all the way to the back office, meaning no one else has to touch that,” Hart said, noting that future clients like his three kids expect a seamless, “Google-like” experience wherever they go.
“We’re not delivering that today. But before I retire, I’m going to make that happen,” he said.
To help financial advisors and their firms cut through the noise, Financial Planning spoke with a quintet of industry insiders for their thoughts on the tech tools needed to level up in the new year.