Gavin, Joel and Suzanne discuss how the widespread adoption of technology is dictating the long term success of advisory firms in completely unprecedented ways.
Suzanne Siracuse, CEO of Suzanne Siracuse Consulting
Oleg Tishkevich, CEO of INVENT.us
Joel Brukenstein, Founder of T3
Gavin Spitzner, President of Wealth Consulting Partners
Tim Welsh, President of Nexus Strategy
Suzanne: So, Gavin, while there’s an increase in tech adoption for sure, right? Especially in the video that we just talked about and in like eSignatures, for example, we still seem to have a surplus of fintech capabilities on the market that still aren’t being adopted with the same level of speed as we would like to see. So, for those solutions that still seem to be lagging, what are some of the key success factors for adoption success, both from solution providers and from an advisor’s perspective that you’re seeing in your work?
Gavin: Yeah absolutely and, just to build on some of the things Joel talked about, I do think, unfortunately, what’s happened over the past few months has really spurred the adoption in many long-lasting ways. So, some have said things like we saw 10 years’ worth of adoption in 10 weeks. And I think especially for a lot of my larger enterprise clients that tend to be slower getting bogged down by compliance and vendor management, this forced them, it forced their hand. And they really had to bring these solutions more online. And clients were open to it in ways that they never were before. And I guess more broadly, we’ve all seen different studies showing advisors using, depending on the application, maybe 10 percent, 20 percent, 30 percent of the functionality of the tools that they have at their disposal. And because of that, they’re always looking for the next big thing with the help of people like Joel and Tim. Successful adoption, in my view, is about looking at the technology and the tools in the context of the advisor experience and the overall advisory experience. So, it’s about the data. It’s garbage in, garbage out. If you don’t take the time to have the right data and clean data flowing into the tools in a very integrated way, it’s not going to work. It’s not going to get the adoption workflow. It has to really fit the workflow that advisors are deploying.
And ultimately, it has to be built really from the end backwards to say “what’s the experience I’m trying to architect. What’s the client experience I’m trying to deliver?” And then figure out, all right, “how does the technology integrate? How do I use it effectively in my practice and with clients?” And frankly, one of the things that I’d say Oleg and I bonded over early on was that INVENT facilitates the kind of advisory experience and home office flexibility that’s really needed to do this, do all these things I’m talking about effectively and efficiently, where you’ve got the flexibility to respond to different advisory practices, but you also have that very tight connectivity and a responsive system. So some data points there that I’ve seen that speak to some of this is Broadridge did a study, I think it was over the summer, that said about seventy five percent of advisors wish their firms had better technology tools and more than half were actually thinking now about leaving their firm for another one that has better tools. So I think what’s gone on these past few months has really just turned up the volume in terms of what advisors realized that they need to run their practices more effectively, especially in that digital communication collaboration along the lines of what Joe was speaking about.
Suzanne: Yeah, absolutely. It’s funny, I was on a webcast a few months ago. Really, I think it was back in April with Bert White from LPL. And one of the things that he said that really resonated with me was people tend to change based on two factors. They either really want to, or they’re forced to. And so the percentage of advisers that were already really adopting tech solutions were those that really want it to, they were really engaged with it. They saw that it was working, that it had helped them with scaling their practice, with business development. And then the rest were, they’ve been forced to. So, I just think that that’s a really interesting way of looking at change and how it relates to adoption.
Joel: The other thing that I think is interesting, when you compare the broker dealer side to the RIA side, is RIA’s, because they are entrepreneurs, have exposure to a lot more and they get out and they can compare all the technology. Historically, until relatively recently, I would say sort of 90 percent of the information that advisors at a broker dealer got was from their broker dealer. So, they maybe go once a year to an annual broker dealer conference, looked at the technology and said, well, it’s better than it was last year, so we must be making progress. And now kind of the genie is out of the bottle. There’s a lot more information out there. It’s easier for those folks at broker dealers to compare the technology to what other broker dealers have and to what independents have and so those broker dealer execs who are not investing in technology for their firm and for their clients, they’re being exposed. And I think the combination of that together with the pandemic and everybody being forced to make use of the technology much more than they would have otherwise, you know, it’s really sort of a tipping point.
Suzanne: Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. And a great example of that is just some of the work that that we’re doing at INVENT. We just announced in a press release with Cambridge and how they have hired INVENT and INVENT Elite to really be this third party resource to help them with their overall technology strategy, including what’s best in class from a tech solutions perspective. And that thought process, or the way that they’re thinking about their technology is vastly different than I think any other broker dealer had thought about in the past. Now they’re all starting to really understand the importance of providing really best in class tech solutions. And sometimes in order to do that, you have to have third parties come in, right?