Held over 3 days in Orlando, FL, the TD Ameritrade Institutional LINC (Learn, Inspire, Network, Collaborate) conference was a great profile and barometer of the growing success and momentum of the RIA industry. The conference featured over 3,200 attendees, 250 exhibiting firms, and 67 advisor-focused technology firms, including SS&C Advent.
“The advisor industry is on fire and this conference is just adding more fuel,” Nally said as he welcomed everyone in his opening keynote remarks. Key TDA platform and company announcements included technology enhancements, an advisor marketing campaign, along with continued industry support.
One of the bigger initiatives highlighted at the conference was the launch of the “Human Finance Project,” which featured stories of how advisors have meaningfully impacted clients’ lives, as a way to showcase the value RIAs deliver. “The RIA space has a communication challenge,” Nally said. “We are a purpose-driven industry however most people don’t know the differentiated service model that RIAs provide. Client stories are very powerful and we think this will be a great way to showcase why they are different.”
On the custody front, TDA announced improvements in their Veo platform to include the launch of the Veo One dashboard, along with additional technology integrations, now totaling over 100 software vendors – prominent among them is SS&C Advent’s Black Diamond platform.
While the momentum for the RIA industry is growing, Nally also introduced some potential issues that may slow growth. Among them is the lack of oversight of RIAs by regulators and global conflict.
“Most advisors get audited only once every 10 years, and some RIAs have never been audited,” Nally explained. “This has led to the perception that RIAs are operating in the Wild, Wild West. As a result, we need to take this issue off of the table by having more third party exams.” TDA announced that it is supporting a proposal by the SEC to have more frequent exams. “Ultimately, this industry is based on trust, and we need to take visible steps to enhance that trust.”
A number of high profile keynote speakers also provided their take on global developments. Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA and NSA, provided a somewhat depressing view of global unrest that could lead to continued conflict, including dictator-led regimes that possess nuclear capabilities. However, political science consultant Ian Bremmer, President of the Eurasia Group, concluded that despite the global trouble spots, “Investing in the US is the one positive development.”
On the technology front, the clear focus area of the conference was Veo Village, a separate exhibit area that featured 67 technology vendors exhibiting their integrations into the Veo platform. Attendees were able to talk with technology executives, see live demos, and find out the latest from the industry’s growing technology sector, including SS&C Advent’s Black Diamond wealth platform, which continues to release enhancements that enhance advisor-client dialogue.
Not surprisingly, the topic of enhancing the client experience took center stage. Joel Bruckenstein, publisher of the T3 series of conferences and newsletters moderated an advisor panel on technology perspectives. The main discussion topic focused around enhancing the client experience through technology. “Why is client service so important?” Bruckenstein asked. “It is because it has a huge impact on referrals and growth. For every happy client, they will tell 2 people. However for every unhappy client, they will tell 9 people.”
Mark Bruno, Associate Publisher of InvestmentNews, additionally provided the results of his recent technology survey – a key finding was again the impact that technology has on enhancing the client experience. “Advisors who focus on client facing technology are faster growing and larger than firms who only focus on technology for productivity.”
The final night featured the popular band, Barenaked Ladies, who headlined a gala event as they kicked off a world tour. Bringing the fun back to the big custodian events, the band provided a high-energy concert and thrilled the conference crowd.
Up next is the T3 conference, to be held in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida later this week. Be sure to stop by and learn more about the new Advisor Experience in the Black Diamond wealth platform. Additionally, don’t miss two great sessions with SS&C Advent advisory executives on the rise of the wealth platform (2/11) and top 5 trends shaping the future of advisor technology (2/12).
Timothy D. Welsh, CFP® is President and founder of Nexus Strategy, LLC, a leading consulting firm to the wealth management industry, and periodically blogs for Advent’s On Point blog. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter@NexusStrategy.