Need For Tech Integration – And Human Connection – Tops T3 Agenda

Charles Paikert US Correspondent Las Vegas January 24, 2024

Need For Tech Integration – And Human Connection – Tops T3 Agenda

Our US correspondent has been attending an annual conference – based in Las Vegas – to hear discussions about the wealth sector and talk to industry figures on the topics that most concern them.

Even though new product launches are a mainstay of the T3 tech conference, a longstanding problem plaguing RIAs – integrating disparate software programs and platforms – dominated opening day discussions here in Las Vegas.

The fact that advisors consistently lament that there is “no single place” where they can go to coordinate their software issues is leaving too many wealth managers “confused, angry and sad,” outgoing Envestnet CEO Bill Crager said.

Orion has identified the need for a “single source data base” as a major objective, CEO Natalie Wolfsen said. “Less than half” of advisors are satisfied with current data delivery tools, Wolfsen added.

“Integration has improved,” said T3 founder and producer Joel Bruckenstein. “But advisors’ expectations are rising and there’s still too much friction.”

Software for advisors “can’t live in a silo,” Bruckenstein later said in an interview with Family Wealth Report. “Vendors need to play nice with each other.”

Unfulfilled promise
Lack of tech integration is “still a significant issue after all these years,” said Greg Freidman, who founded the popular software program Junxure and is now senior strategic advisor for Wealthspire. “The promise of tech has not fulfilled its potential.”

In fact, as more programs and platforms are launched, it’s now harder than ever to successfully integrate systems, Freidman said.

Human connection still critical
Even though T3 is the wealth management industry’s biggest technology conference, the human side of the business was highlighted in keynote presentations.

While tech advances are being introduced at a record pace, top executives from leading tech platforms all stressed the need for advisors to make sure that the human connection between advisor and client remained at the heart of the relationship.

Above all, clients want an advisor who “gets them,” said Orion’s Wolfsen, citing a recent survey. But the industry isn’t satisfying that demand, Wolfson lamented, citing the low ranking of financial services on “trust barometer” surveys.

Advisory firms should strive for a “gestalt” approach to advisor relationships that emphasize a “big picture” understanding of a client’s financial, personal and lifestyle needs, Wolfsen said. Right now, the industry is “a long way” from delivering that experience, she maintained.

Next up: Behavioral solutions?
Nor has the longstanding industry mantra of “personalization” been achieved, Morningstar CEO Kunal Kapoor said. “People want people,” Kapoor said, noting that robo advisors didn’t achieve the massive market share that many anticipated. “I don’t think automated solutions will get stronger,” Kapoor said. ‘Whatever happens next will be a hybrid of humans and technology.”

The industry has evolved from a product to a solution focus and is now moving to emphasizing behavioral solutions, according to TradePMR chief client growth officer Bill Coppel. 

Helping to change a clients' behavior to align with desired goals will ultimately add value to advisory firms' business, Coppell asserted. “IQ is a must for an advisor,” he said, “but the value in the future will be in EQ – emotional intelligence.” 

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