I’m currently attending the T3 (Technology Tools for Today™) advisor technology conference in Miami, hosted by Joel Bruckenstein and David Drucker. This is the eighth year for the conference, and I’ve had the privilege of attending seven of them.
T3 attracts an eclectic audience of 500+ people:
- Vendors (software mostly), who support the conference and who are looking to attract advisors and broker/dealers alike
- Broker/dealers and custodians, who are looking to see what is out there, to network with vendors and other broker/dealers, and to find out which trends are taking shape
- Advisors, who are here to explore how these technologies can help their businesses grow or become more efficient
Although it’s an interesting mix, it’s the advisor segment that intrigues me. In the eight years I’ve attended T3, I’ve only seen one Commonwealth advisor (and he told me that attending was really an excuse to vacation in south Florida in January). I feel very fortunate that Commonwealth has been able to build such an integrated and holistic platform that our advisors don’t have to attend conferences like this and that they are happy to leave the task to my staff and me.
The trends that I am hearing about here are in line with the trends that we’ve been embracing over the past several years at Commonwealth:
- Integration, integration, and more integration
- More robust portfolio accounting systems
- More in terms of what mobile can do for an office
- More workflow-based intelligence
None is new per se, but they are all still hot topics. I continue to see the world through slightly different-colored lenses than many people when it comes to integration. For most, integration simply means passing data between systems, and it ends there. For me, integration is more than just data. It is an integrated experience. Not having to learn seven or eight disparate systems for performing various tasks and having a welcoming interface that reduces training costs and increases adaption for advisor offices are huge. In many ways, I’m glad that view is not shared by many.
One trend mentioned in several sessions here is something that we’ve just begun to discuss at Commonwealth—touch-first. As the next generation of web tools is introduced, many vendors say that they will build them to be optimized for touch but to work equally well with a mouse. This sounds like a great approach, but the devil is in the details. How well will companies execute this? And although touch is all the rage now, I envision it as a stepping stone to voice or easier ways to navigate to get something done. But that stepping stone is very real, and it will likely be a stepping stone that we will need through the end of this decade.