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Three Key Themes from the Future of Financial Advice Summit

November 25, 2019 Jeff Quigley By Jeff Quigley

Investment News’ “Future of Advice” conference was illuminating for many industry leaders. It featured a star-studded lineup, whose presentations centered around merging digital and human advice to provide superior client experience. This action-packed day unearthed three common themes from the panel and break out discussions.

Here are our key takeaways:

Adoption is the new innovation

Steve Gresham’s quote “Adoption is the new innovation” quickly became the phrase of the day. Many of the panelists discussed challenges associated with engaging advisors when it comes to new technology. Many firms stated that adoption of new technology is significantly less than 50%. Many factors contribute to this deficiency in adoption: inertia, capacity, time constraints, lack of education and absence of value topped the list.

Firms are working hard to improve adoption. Andy Saperstein of Morgan Stanley spoke about shifting investments from implementing new technology to educating advisors on using the technology available to them. This education is designed to create an understanding of how the tools will work in their practice, but more importantly, to identify the value the technology adds to their business and their clients. Some firms are also highlighting advisor successes with technology to inspire others to embrace new tools and ideas. Additionally, some firm leadership is actively soliciting input and feedback from their advisors BEFORE rolling out a new tool to create more buy-in.

Through all this, one thing is certain – the adoption of technology is crucial for growth going forward.

Managing the household will rule the day

Envestnet’s CEO, Bill Crager said, “Advice will be based on an integrated ecosystem that includes investments, insurance, optimized health care, comprehensive coaching and more.” Financial applications help us to gather data, analyze and plan strategy, but if we’re not using comprehensive household data, we’ll miss many opportunities. Providing advice based on a complete picture will help advisors improve outcomes for their clients, provide a better client experience and ultimately, fuel a more profitable practice. Mr. Crager went on to say that “As an industry, we need to be more prescriptive.” In other words, leveraging technology to illustrate clear, tangible value and provide clients with the next best action is the future.

Balancing technology with human advice to provide a superior client experience

Andy Saperstein, Morgan Stanley’s Head of Wealth Management kicked off his session by saying “Trust will never be replaced.” The overwhelming sentiment from the conference was that the human connection and the value of the client-advisor relationship is irreplaceable. Equally popular is the notion that if advisors do not embrace technology, growth will continue to decline.

The question then becomes, how do we balance the two?

  • Standardize/Humanize – determine the facets of your process that can be standardized using technology and stay focused on the humanized part of your process.
  • Choose technology that highlights your skills/niche and spotlights what makes your firm different.
  • Use tools that demonstrate clear value, improved outcomes and identify the next best action.
  • Don’t be static – financial lives are in a constant state of flux. Leverage technology that changes and adapts with your clients’ lives.

Advisors and firms will continue to improve when it comes to leveraging technology to improve outcomes, increase efficiencies and provide superior client experience. The future of financial advice is here, it’s constantly evolving and it’s fun to watch!

Jeff is the Senior Vice President of Enterprise Sales & Relationships at LifeYield. His deep industry experience makes him an important author to watch. He writes about key industry themes, landmark events and game-changing news that's shaping the future of financial advice.