The panel participants discuss emerging fintech solutions, and the trend of advisors moving into the tech space armed with a deep knowledge of their industry.
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, I’d love to talk about innovation, innovative ideas. What’s been a really cool new product or new solution that you all have been following over the last 6-9 months that you think is really going to be a game changer. Gavin let’s start with you, what’s really caught your attention? [Gavin muted]. Joel, how about you, we’ll start with you?
Joel: Ok sure, there are a number of companies in different fields that I think have caught my attention. I don’t know if they are game changers, but it seems like there was a lack of choice, for example, in financial planning software. So, you see the rise of a company like PlanTech Hub. FP Alpha is also in the financial planning space, its not a direct competitor to financial planning software but it uses artificial intelligence and data and machine learning in interesting ways to act almost as a virtual planning assistant to an Advisor, so I think that one is very interesting. At our conference this year, I would say there was at least half a dozen ESG platforms, the one that’s caught my attention that I think is really really interesting is Act Analytics, I like that a lot. In the compliance space and the risk space on the enterprise side, you have ATARiskStation, which I think has been developing new products and new solutions at a rapid clip. So those are just a few companies that I think are very innovative and that fill a real need for Advisors. I can probably rattle off ten more, but…
Suzanne: Gavin, what are some of the things that have really grabbed your attention?
Gavin: What I was trying to say before is, I don’t know if there are so much new as much as ready for their close-up. A couple of areas that I am really focused on are tech that supports direct indexing, more personalized portfolio management. I think that it’s been around for a while but there is a lot of advances in those technologies to make it much more, it really facilitates advisors having those conversations with clients and being able to do things more from a tax management stand point, personalization stand point. Bring in ESG, SRI, more of the values base side so I think that is about ready to take off after a lot of buzz for a while. And then solutions that are focused on retirement management and decumulation right? So much of the industry has been built up around accumulation and investment management, given the baby boomer population bulge and where all the assets are, there is just so much more need for solutions in that arena. Helping advisors engage with clients, longevity planning and decumulation planning that I think there is a lot of interesting capabilities that again, are about to come. I’d say they’re a little bit ahead of advisors’ ability to adopt and get focused but that’s going to start to intersect very soon.
Suzanne: Yeah, almost what I feel like what I hearing from you guys are these real specialized services. So like you know level 1 financial planning software, CRM, etc., portfolio management software, that is table stakes again. Like now the specialists are coming in that are layering over top of some of the real foundational softwares.
Joel: Yeah another area where you are seeing a lot of that right now, Suzanne, is cash management. You have all these intermediaries like Flourish, Max My Interest and there’s 2 or 3 other ones that are all helping advisors better manage cash. That is something that we have not seen before until recently.
Suzanne: Tim how about you, what are you seeing? What are your top lists?
Tim: It goes back to our conversation around the all in one unified stack, we are starting to see a couple of new players like Trading Front, which is built on top of Interactive Brokers. You also have Lifeworks advisors which is about to launch, you know drop a little nugget here. Built by an advisor who could not cobble together enough stuff, so he built his own in the cloud, with the cloud native approach, so definitely backing up all that Invent’s all about. So, I think that what’s old is new again. Again, that is really innovation but its really bringing it together so it can drive those efficiencies. Part of that, because we can’t meet in person as much anymore, no more lunches, no more client events, no more networking, no more conferences, digital marketing is going to have its day. To Gavin’s point, what’s their close-up? The ability to drive new leads and convert them through digital channels is now preeminent because the majority of what we have all learned how to sell through these in person activities are not going to happen anytime soon. So, how can you fill your sales funnel with leads? How can you use digital tools? How can you convert them? Content is going to have its day again. You have to have fantastic content to be able to drip through these pipes. So, I envision all of us being super-duper busy as we create that content for everyone and fill up the cloud native pipeline, bringing it full circle back to Oleg.
Suzanne: Awesome. And Oleg what about you, what are seeing in terms of new innovation products that are going to be advancing us into the next year?
Oleg: The trend that Tim alluded to, definitely I am seeing a lot of advisors starting new software firms, so this is an interesting trend. We know some of the firms in the industry that have been around a long time, many have been started by advisors but that was kind of happening around early 2000’s and then just kind of died out. All these firms became a household name within the advisory community, but we haven’t really seen a lot of entry into the space by someone who has been an advisor for a long time and is launching a new software company and becoming a success. Because technology is becoming more and more complex, so these things for a while have been not as effective. But now with adoption of cloud native, with adoption of some of the capabilities that lets you create solutions much easier and be able to scale them much faster, we definitely see a lot of firms that are now being started by financial advisors. Which is an interesting trend because if you think about the scale of this and how many advisors are out there just in the US. Advisors are looking into creating more specialized experiences for themselves and scaling them to other advisors. For example in the area of advice and tax advice, accounting plus advice, legal services plus advice. Definitely, I can’t speak to the company names, they are still all in a very incubate stage right now, but there is some very interesting ideas that are coming now from advisors many years in the business, emerging with some of the technology. And we certainly hear about it as firms coming to us with implementation ideas, we hear about some interesting solutions that are coming onto the market that I am very excited about, that are by those people that we are creating the software for. So I think that trend is not to be overlooked, I think there is going to be more and more advisors coming into the software business. So not just something that we have seen in the past, software companies being backed by some Silicon Valley VCs that are breaking into our space and getting in there and not really understanding what the heck is going on there. Advisors that truly understand our business and understand what it takes to provide the services to the client, I think are destined to be much more successful. And if we can provide them the tools to be able to do it, I think everybody will benefit and we will have a lot more very interesting solutions in the years to come.
Suzanne: Yes, I could not agree more, I know exactly what you are taking about. More advisors are creating their own, to solve for their own problems. That’s very interesting.