Joel Brukenstein offers his thoughts on factors, such as the pandemic, influencing the increasing rate of tech adoption in financial services and how this is challenging the status quo.
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 it’s been a crazy six months in our world, right? The global pandemic spurred a myriad of issues, including health concerns, unemployment, financial stresses. But some really great things have happened, especially in our industry. And one major positive, I feel, and I think you’ll agree, is the escalation of technology adoption. And so, Joel, can you share a few examples of what it means to our industry and why this is so important right now?
Joel: Oh, obviously, everybody on the call, the big fans of technology, and we all think people should be adopting more technology. And we think, you know, that there’s a lot of benefits to that that should be self-evident. But historically, the industry has not really been on the cutting edge of technology and most advisers are not early adopters. So one of the great benefits, you know, if you can call it a benefit, of the pandemic is that it’s really forced people out of their comfort zone with regard to technology, and it’s forced them to adopt things that ultimately they would have adopted anyway. But they’ve done it in months instead of years. So, we’re on a Zoom call. This is just one example. I would say that probably less than 20 percent of advisers were regularly using facilities such as Zoom to meet with clients before the pandemic. Now, almost 100 percent of advisors are doing it. Same thing for virtual meetings. You know, conferences, ecredit, all those kinds of things. All of those things we’re using new technologies to adapt. I’ve gotten multiple calls over the past several months from advisory firms, particularly small firms that had more antiquated telephone systems trying to figure out how to get virtual switchboard so they could have extensions all around the country, all around the world, if necessary. I think Oleg’s company is a really great example before the pandemic, of how you can build a virtual company. He’s got employees in I don’t know, how many countries do you have employees in right now Oleg?
Oleg: I think six, we’re up to six right now.
Joel: Right, six different countries and people across this nation and they’re working seamlessly together. And also, I think it’s brought to the forefront that a lot of legacy technologies the broker dealers have really are antiquated and it’s no longer OK, just to patch them up and put a Band-Aid. And that’s what opens up the opportunity for a firm such as this.
Suzanne: Yeah, I feel like there’s a real mindset shift, too, in it for advisors. So, Joel, you and I were on a webcast not too long ago with Andrew Outfest, a financial adviser, and he was saying that he was trying to get business from a very wealthy family on the West Coast, and his business is located on the East Coast. They were told right before the pandemic that they were out of the running because they were New York based. He gets a call several weeks into the pandemic when people had started adopting virtual Zoom calls, et cetera, virtual meetings and said that he was back in the running because they realized that maybe that wasn’t such an objection after all. So, he ended up winning the business. And I think that that is a really great example of how technology has been accelerating the adoption of certain things. And there’s proof that it works and it’s starting to help grow business legitimately for other advisers to see that example of Andrew Outfest, I think really helps with the overall adoption as well.
Joel: Well, I think for years we’ve been saying at conferences and telling advisors that they can compete nationally, but both from the advisory mentality side and the client mentality side, you know, there was some resistance to that. So, I can think of a number of cases where firms have been successful, but a lot of cases where firms haven’t been successful. But it’s also changed, obviously, to your point, client behavior and not just about that, but also digital tools. So, some advisory firms are offering a digital tool, but maybe only 20 percent or less of their client base was taking advantage of it. Now, with the pandemic and they can’t meet face to face, they’re all being forced to. And presumably, you know, we feel pretty strongly that those behaviors are going to carry on even after the pandemic is over.
Suzanne: Yeah, 100 percent.