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The Pathway to Digital Empowerment with Tricia Haskins

In this episode, Jack talks with Tricia Haskins, head of technology and platform consulting at Fidelity Investments.

Tricia is an influential and thought-provoking leader in the wealth management industry. Her passion to help businesses innovate, scale, and better engage with clients goes beyond the walls of Fidelity. As a keynote speaker, Tricia is well-known for always bringing the industry up to speed on the future of financial services and wealth management.

Tricia talks with Jack about the pathway to digital empowerment, how technology can deepen our relationships, and how to grow your business through scale and efficiency.

What Tricia has to say

“Firms see where they can add value because the time that was once taken up, the paperwork, and so forth, are now being addressed in a different way and a faster way. They’ll start to see the increase in their client satisfaction, bringing in the next generation of investors. There’s a ton of opportunity for the firms that are focused on integration and digital empowerment.”

– Tricia Haskins, Head of Technology & Platform Consulting, Fidelity Investments

Read the full transcript

Jack Sharry: Hello and welcome. Thanks for joining us today for our next episode of WealthTech on Deck. As you know, we talk with industry leaders each week about the confluence of human and digital advice how to help improve financial outcomes for both investors and advisors. Today, Tricia Haskins, who is the VP and head of integration solutions across Fidelity’s institutional business is joining us, she helps financial advisors and their firms become more productive and effective through technology so they can better serve their clients. So Tricia, it’s great to have you on board. Thanks for joining us today. Welcome.

Tricia Haskins: Well, thank you, Jack, I’m thrilled to be here. Thanks for the opportunity.

Jack Sharry: Great. I’m looking forward to our conversation. So Tricia, let’s start by talking about your current and prior roles and talking in preparation for today’s conversation. I know you’ve done a lot of important stuff in the institutional business, you might describe that for those that may not know the distinction between institutional and retail at Fidelity and what that means. But talk a little bit about what you do on the we have done on the institutional side. And I know you’re embarking on a new chapter of your career. So we’ll talk about all that if you would,

Tricia Haskins: yeah, we’ll do. Thanks, Jack. Appreciate it. So I’m the head of the integration solutions organization really focused on three key areas. Number one being integration Exchange, which is our digital storefront, that allows advisors and the firms that we work with in the institutional business to understand what integrations are available to them. Number two is the FinTech marketplace, where we work with third party tech vendors, specifically the ones that our clients are using and are interested in and want to integrate with. And then third, we’re really focused on allowing our the firms that we work with to customize and create their own personalized experience, whether that be for their end investors, their end clients, whether that be for advisors, or whether that be for their associates. So that integration solution encompasses all that and more, I’m coming from 10 plus years heading up the technology and platform consulting team, where we were really focused on working with institutions across all segments. So you know, RIA, single and multifamily offices, independent broker, dealers, banks, you name it, we’re working with all of these different types of firms on what we call digital empowerment. So how can you use technology to help grow your business, create scale on efficiency, and deepen relationships with your own clients. So it was really a natural lead into heading up integration solutions, just because of the myriad different platform solutions and different technology solutions that are out there? That is, you know, you know, well, having increased exponentially, at least over the course of my career, and just seems to get be getting getting faster. So let me

Jack Sharry: press it a little bit or lean in as the saying goes today to understand what’s what you’re doing. We for more individual RIA or RIA firm focused? And now it’s more enterprise level? What what do you just make that distinction between what you were doing? And then I’m assuming the integration solutions you’re talking about are are bigger in terms of what’s required? But again, please tell us

Tricia Haskins: great question. So the work before with the consult, heading up the consulting team, we would do one on one engagements with firms across FI, we’d also create different tools and thought leadership and insights that they could use. And then we’d also do things like workshops, how to increase adoption, how to think about integrations, how to evaluate different technology solutions out there. So it was certainly on a cultural client by client basis, but then also on a broader basis. In this particular area that I’ve moving into this is the integrations that have impact across

Jack Sharry: FI. And when you say FI, you’re saying Fidelity Institutional?

Tricia Haskins: Institutional business. Yes. huge fans of acronyms. So whenever I bring that up ask me.

Jack Sharry: Yes, will do so. But go a little bit further, if you would, on the Fidelity Institutional and bigger picture, what does that look like? Give me maybe an example of what that might look like in terms of the kind of work that you embark on?

Tricia Haskins: Sure, absolutely. So one of the areas that we’re working on is how do we work with those clients? And how do we help those clients that are trying to create a personalized experience, right, so what they’re trying to do is create a user experience that is specific to them and to their clients. Now, there’s a lot of different tasks that they can take file of different strategies they can take to get there, whether that’s leveraging something out of the box with some tailoring, whether that’s using some third party solutions to help drive that or whether that is using things like API’s framing in of different screens to their experience, single sign on, right to make that workflow easy. Here, what we’re doing in integration solutions is driving the strategy to allow for firms to drive their unique experience and have that choice, that openness and choice to be able to create the right experience for them, irrespective who their constituency is, whether that’s, as I said, the internal associates, whether that’s advisors, whether that’s the end investors or the end customers. So it’s a much more deliberate overall strategy on how to work through all the different optionality. One of the great things that we have as well is the team of consultants, where the my prior role was, they’re experts in helping firms think about that, how to deliver on that, because oftentimes, you’re going in and you’re making these choices and to have an expert there to help you understand how to approach the strategy, what the pros and cons are, whether that’s from a resource perspective and time to market perspective across whatever the case may be. They help those firms think about that, and implement a solution that best meets their needs.

Jack Sharry: So if I may try to summarize what you’re doing before as listening to your customer on their tech stack, and how to develop that tech stack, given the reality of today or whatever is available at that point. And what I’m hearing you and again, correct me if I’m wrong, where you’re going is how do you coordinate all the different capabilities that fidelity elsewhere, vendors would have you? Clearly our industry is moving more toward the API orientation. So I’m assuming where you’re going is more strategic and more, how do you set it up? So what you were doing in the past, you’re sort of laying the groundwork for the future, is that fair to say?

Tricia Haskins: I think it’s a great way to put it, it’s very well said, you know, and we see integration exchange as that digital storefront that doesn’t solely have one way of integrating right, so it’s not solely like an API storefront. It has those third parties, it has the Ingress, it has all the different ways that we can connect, we also have implemented features so that firms can understand where their data is going. It’s really fascinating to think about how do you have data going to one portfolio management solution or another or whatever the case may be, and really understanding if you move from one to the other, making sure that it’s only going to the place that you want it to go. So giving these firms more control over their data and their clients data is really key. It makes it a really, really powerful tool.

Jack Sharry: Yep. So let’s talk a little bit about the future. Because I think we’re simpatico in terms we where we see it going. And if the future is API and capability, but kind of that storefront or the the advisors of front door, if you will, around technology, that will be the user experience that they convey. It sounds like you’re working more than I don’t want to say back office, you’re working behind the scenes and making that more powerful, more usable. And one of the challenges we see in our business is the coordination of all the elements, the planning the data, the proposal, the ongoing implementation, the rebalancing, the asset, location, allocation, risk, you know, the laundry list of stuff, talk a little bit about your view on where we are today as an industry and where you’d like to see it go. I imagine these are the sorts of things that you’re working on each day?

Tricia Haskins: Absolutely. Because there is this confluence of and I liked that you used compliments earlier, so I’m just gonna steal it, please. integrations and workflows, right? It’s not just integration, for regression sake, it’s what is the integration doing, both to the user experience, so they don’t have to do that swivel chair, but also to facilitate the totality of that workflow of that business process to get from A to Z in a way in the fewest steps possible, with the least amount of risk, and making sure you get things done in a timely manner. So the point you bring up is an important one, think about, and this is one of the things we did in the consulting group was, how do you think about all of all of those workflows? What are the key steps? What are the key dependencies? What is the timeframe, who’s responsible? And then once you get that process completed, and you figure out what are the most ideal processes? And how do you automate it through the technology tools that you have. So if you think about the integration, exchange and integration solutions, that’s precisely what we’re trying to do, or what we are doing is, you know, with over 200, plus vendors on the marketplace, innumerable API’s and different ways to do you know, single sign on, sign on and so on, so forth, providing those tools that will empower ever digital empowerment, and power those firms ability to facilitate those workflows in a really streamlined manner. Because one of the things you know, we did see over the course of the pandemic, and this is not news to anybody was that there was a real increase in the adoption of technology. It was a really interesting mind shift where what we would see prior was going to change is hard for people. Change is hard. And especially when your own success and the success of of your clients, the people you’re hell even take care of is it’s such a relationship based business, right? So you want to be want to be there for them want to talk to him to them face to face, whatever the case may be, that technology could sometimes be felt as something that could disintermediate the firm. So the advisors

Jack Sharry: explain that because I think I know what you mean, but maybe expand on that, if you will.

Tricia Haskins: So what we saw was that when it came to the use of some of these technologies, whether it be even something like an online portal, or even sometimes e signature, where these has historically been an opportunity for the adviser to get in front of the client, and spend time with them, and to deepen that relationship, if those things were done via technology, or in an automated fashion where the advisor didn’t have to be there at all, there was this underlying sort of fear that technology would disintermediate some of the value that they bring, right, sure, when the value that they bring, we talk about the advice, value stack and fidelity of having that solid investment Foundation, moving up to goals and helping clients achieve their goals, to helping them be free from worry, to helping them achieve their life’s purpose. You know, we talk about the movement of that value stack. So the time spent with clients on different types of things like getting to know them better getting to know their families, understanding what is their life purpose, and things like that, allowing technology to do those other things actually frees up their time to move up the value stack. So, you know, throughout the course of the pandemic, it forced people to move to some of these technology capabilities. And we found in our studies that it actually had the opposite effect of it didn’t disintermediate them actually help them retain clients, right, because they have these technologies that they can use, and they can meet the clients where they’re at. I mean, we’ve been on a lot of these video calls, you know, for sure over the past year and a half or so. And it’s not, you know, obviously as wonderful as sharing a cup of coffee or sitting with somebody, but you are able to stay in contact with people. And there’s something to be said said about that.

Jack Sharry: Yeah, if I could comment on that one things I found, it’s a different kind of conversation. And they’re different skills required just to relate with colleagues or customers or what have you. And one of things I think that I know I’ve learned is that I actually, once I understood my job was to figure out how to be more effective in that regard, I got better at it. And it seems to me, as I read in here, talk to people about what the experience has been for advisors, they found actually, they could communicate more effectively is that’s my sense. But you’re closer to it than I in terms of working with advisors day to day in terms of engaging in a way as they engage with their clients to help them get better outcomes. That’s really what this is all about. Right.

Tricia Haskins: You know, one of the interesting things is, is that we’ve seen some advisors, actually, to your point, use it to deepen the relationship. So now you’re on these zooms, or whatever, whatever the call is, you’re in people’s homes. Yes, we’ve seen it, where advisors have used it to provide them with the opportunity to get to know the next generation of, you know, within the family, somebody where you know, that might not happen for a while, you know, and you get to see things that people are passionate about, with the different books on their shelves, and no pictures and things like that,

Jack Sharry: that are like pelotons in the background or guitars in the background. Yes, don’t you agree with me? That’s what you’re saying, basically, is I know you a little better just because we’re talking in this way, as opposed to sitting in a conference room?

Tricia Haskins: Absolutely. And it’s funny, because, you know, I’ve had times where my kids have come home from school or you know, somebody wants an ice cream or you know, who knows, you know, you get to know people on and isn’t that and so interesting, like, okay, we’re not together, we’re a video, but we’re getting to know you in a more personal way. And I just think that is, you know, a really sort of interesting outcome that I would not have expected going into this.

Jack Sharry: Let’s talk a little more about that. Because I coined the term confluence of human and digital advice about I don’t five years ago as a hope is an objective my senses and maybe you can comment on it because you’re steeped in the technology. That’s what you do. That’s, that’s your role. Talk a little bit about that combination, particularly going forward, because I’m assuming this all has informed the technology stack that you’re the capabilities that you’re making available and that you’re coordinating. Talk a little bit about that about how it informs how you are strategizing how you’re developing a strategic vision around where you want to take integrated solutions?

Tricia Haskins: Well, first and foremost, it comes from the clients. And we have a number of listening posts and working with our clients, whether it’s directly through different forums and steering committees, and things like that, whether it’s through the engagements that the consulting team has, whether it’s through, you know, feedback from their relationship managers, you know, first and foremost we want to know from our clients, what are you using, what are you seeing out there? what’s important? Why is it important? Right. And so that is something that where we really focus, we also have great benefit in in fidelity as a private company, some more leeway to in terms of the innovation. And so what I mean by that the Fidelity Center for Applied Technologies, which is really a think tank around what is going on in the industry, it goes beyond sort of fintech. But what a great group of just really smart folks who are steeped in some of the innovation, things going on from an innovative perspective, every day that we get the benefit of learning from, we also have within the institutional business, a team focused on research and thought leadership. And so just working with them on what are you seeing from an adoption perspective? What are you seeing from a technology perspective? You know, there’s a great study that they did really focused on the impact of COVID, on the financial advice community, and it just really, and that’s where, you know, it’s talking about the advisors who are concerned with disintermediation actually found that they were able to retain clients. So getting ideas from all of these places, and then working through them, seeing what’s out there and making sure it makes sense understanding how it fits in to that overall open platform strategic vision, how can we also provide, you know, the right third parties that our clients are using, and, you know, integration isn’t a one size fits all, approach, there are so many ways to integrate, whether it is you know, through to your point, though, API’s in that or, you know, sometimes it’s a data feed, and sometimes it’s bidirectional. Sometimes it’s single sign on, and sometimes. So there’s a lot of different ways to do that. So really just focusing the strategy on open architecture, open platform, providing the choice, but also really importantly, providing the support that these firms need to be able to make informed decisions on how to move their strategy forward, I

Jack Sharry: think we probably would both agree that the single biggest issue around this confluence of human and digital advice is advisor adoption, they have their habits, their way of doing business, and the world is changing moment by moment. And I’m quite familiar with Fidelity’s resources in terms of strategic advisors and the think tank and in your day to day conversations between your consultants and advisors. So if everyone wants to do it better, but people don’t like to change all that much. So how do you bring that together? And others? Where are we headed, as you see where the future might be leading? And then you’ve got advisors that are kind of used to doing it a different way? How does that translate? How do you meet that challenge? Because you’re really trying to help them do a better job, but they may be reluctant as an example of adopting a new way of operating until it’s proven by somebody else. So talking about that, if you would?

Tricia Haskins: Well, that’s something that has always been a challenge. I mean, I think it’s not just in our industry, it’s everywhere, right? doing things differently is a challenge. And this is this technology is very sophisticated. And so how do you help folks to move up that curve, that learning curve in a way that enables them empowers them to do what it is that they need to do, which is really taking care of their clients? So one of the things that we did see in the study was that the pandemic accelerated the adoption of digital processes. 75% of the advisors agree with that. So that is something we said in terms of the at least the initial sort of adoption, the but the reality of it is that technology changes all the time. Right? So you have to think about what’s the continued adoption? One of the things that we also did see was that firms were making technology part of their overall strategy, right? So it goes from, Hey, what are the different tools and who, you know, do we have to have a, you know, a CRM and portfolio management documented so that it comes in a real part of the strategy that then empowers the goals of the business in the vision of the business. So understanding at the executive level that this is important, we do care, we are going to measure adoption, things like that. One of the key things is about ongoing training. So one of my prior roles, when I first got into this business, I went moved from a small asset manager to Advent software. And I was doing consulting, and I would install the axis Moxie cue all the products they import, and then I would train them, train those clients on them. But you knew that you’re only there for a couple of days. And you know, you’re probably only going to go over 30% of what the functionality can do. And they’re probably only going to retain, you know, half of that, you know, I’m guessing here but so it’s that ongoing training and how do you make it easy for folks to continue to get more and more comfortable with that and that needs to be a key for you know, that continue training and make sure for example, as part of your technology strategy that when new features are coming out, there’s someone who’s responsible for you know, what are Are these features? Are they relevant to us? Who’s impacted? And where do we need to sort of increase the training. So going forward in the future, I see, you know, continue to focus on adoption and advisors will, you know, continue to do that, and next gen, you know, Gen X and Gen Y, and so on will continue to that it’s going to become sort of second nature, it’s just their digital natives, right, the use of integrations, that was another one where in this study, we found that advisor is expected to increase both the number of technologies that they use and the number of integrations, hopefully that does go hand in hand, because you don’t want to add a bunch of new technologies and not have them integrated. They’ll see like the respondents in this study did, they’re going to see the benefit of doing that. And they’re going to see where they can add value, because their time that was once taken up in, you know, paperwork, and so on and so forth, is being addressed in a different way and a faster way, they’ll start to see the increase in their client satisfaction, bringing in that next generation of investor, and so on, and so forth. So I just think there’s a ton of opportunity here for those firms that are focused on this and really want to focus on digital power.

Jack Sharry: So Tricia, this has been a great conversation, as I like to do as we start to wind down, I’d like to find out what are three key takeaways, we’ve covered a lot of ground, and it’s really been fascinating. What are three key areas that you’d like our audience to know, that might be beneficial in their day to day life?

Tricia Haskins: You know, I think in the latter part of our conversation, you hit upon it, adoption, adoption adoption. And I think that that is important, how can we use technology to help deepen our relationships, help grow our business, you know, help create scale and efficiency? And one of the things we didn’t touch upon, but it’s an important consideration is the importance of design of user experience, you know, that design thinking? How can you create that user design, that UX design that really engages your customer that makes the complex, simple, and then leverage the integrations on the back end to help deliver on that? So I think that’s area one, area two, and this is really important to where into my area and leading integration solutions is technology is not a one size fits. All, right? So just because one firm gets great use out of a specific tech ecosystem, and a certain way of integrating it in certain different workflows and things like doesn’t mean that that’s right for the next firm. You know, whether it’s to RIAs, an RIAm an IBD, a family office, whatever the case may be, it’s not a one size fits all. So what is it you’re trying to do? Think about your constituents, whether that’s your end clients, and then there’s some segmentation in there, whether it’s your advisers and or the business development or the relationship, folks are the planners, and then your internal associates, your operations people, your traders, who are those consistent, then how are you going to develop that foundation, and then those personalized experience for all of them and, and data is going to be huge on this data. And Analytics is a huge area for us. And we’re spending a lot of time and effort in thinking about that, how to help make those folks that are leveraging our technologies and tools, providing them with additional insights, to help them grow and evolve their business and deepen their relationships with clients. And then I think the third one is, it’s great housekeeping, continually evaluate your tech ecosystem, continually ask yourself, how you’re doing continually ask yourselves, why do we do it this way? Why do we do it this way? Not as a way to judge but as a way to understand, and then you can continually see how can we continue to improve? So I think those are just the three key areas where the firms and the executives at firms of those firms focus, they’ll be well on their way too strong digital empowerment.

Jack Sharry: Terrific. And it sounds like you might have some lawn mowing going on in the background. Is that what I’m hearing?

Tricia Haskins: Oh, I’m sorry. I have my headphones on.

Jack Sharry: no worries. It’s all part of the fun of the times we live in. So to know me better. So totally. This has been great. Thanks for being our guests on WealthTech on Deck. This has been fun. It’s I’ve enjoyed getting to know you, Tricia and I look forward to our next conversation. So until then, thanks for joining us and we we appreciate your insights and your perspective. Thanks so much.

Tricia Haskins: Thank you so much, very much. Appreciate it.