Become a Financial Advisory Winner

Winning

It’s hard to describe how different the advisory industry is today compared to when I started. In the past few years specifically, I’ve started to see a great divide between advisors who use technology to their advantage and those who are playing catch-up. Our world, the financial advisory ecosystem, is in the midst of major industry change, driven in large part by how clients are interacting with technology. Technology decisions made by advisors today may very well influence their success over time.

Today, advisors are faced with two major challenges that have made embracing new technology a must. I’d venture to guess you’ve run in to these too:

  1. Clients are increasingly tech-savvy and expect the same level of efficient, personalized service from their advisors that they get from their consumer devices
  2. It’s difficult to grow and scale an advisory business – particularly one that provides planning or wealth management services – without finding ways to make the advisor-client dialogue both information rich as well as efficient

The emergence of robo-advisors, whether you think they pose a real risk or not, speaks to a growing expectation from investors for anytime, anywhere access to their financial advisors, human or not.  While it’s unlikely that a robot will replace the kind of relationship advisors provide it’s already a reality that investors expect an elegant combination of a relationship and the ease of a technology to engage on their own time.  So I have to ask, are you doing everything you can to cater to the here and now of investors these days?  Are the people in your firm who are responsible for client relationships using technology to make their jobs easier?

To get a better sense of just how much technology can serve as a competitive differentiator, we partnered with InvestmentNews on a study of how technology is transforming the client experience for investors and how firms are capitalizing on this trend.

The findings of our study were crystal clear:

  • Financial advisory firms that invest strategically in technology outperform their competitors across a number of financial and productivity measures
  • Technology-focused advisors – or “TFAs” – benefit from higher revenues (18% higher revenue per professional) and are seeing dramatic incremental profitability (45% higher profit per professional)
  • TFAs have automated certain processes, freeing up a lot more time for client-facing activities, improving overall client satisfaction

To learn more about how your firm can step up your game, read, Elevating the Client Experience.

As Senior Vice President and General Manager, Black Diamond, Dave is chartered with setting the company’s strategy in the advisory market and leading Advent’s Black Diamond business unit.

Posted in Advent Software, Advisors, Trends

Developing DevOps as you transition to the cloud

cloudclimbDevOps. One of those industry terms floating around the web just as “the consumerization of IT” or “BYOD” did a few years ago. But what does it really mean and how will it evolve like these other great tech trends?

Advent CTO, Todd Gottula, discussed the trend with Wall Street & Technology in a recent article, “Transition Faster to the Cloud with DevOps”. In this article, Todd talks about how the cloud has introduced the ability for developers to rapidly create scalable and flexible environments.

As a marriage of “development” and “operations,” the DevOps trend has actually been in and around software development circles for some time. But the reason DevOps has recently been gaining momentum is an attitude shift across the software industry to operate in real time – a mindset referred to as continuous delivery. Pressure is mounting to increase the frequency of new enhancements and features, and developers are expected to deliver quality code on a shorter release cycle.

Todd also shares that while continuous delivery and DevOps are not one and the same, DevOps feeds into the continuous delivery mentality of reducing inefficiencies and risks, and creating a delivery pipeline that takes into account both software build and infrastructure.

For Advent, DevOps plays a key role in streamlining the delivery of working software. What’s not to love? If you’re looking for more on DevOps, check out the full article on Wall Street &Technology.

Since joining Advent earlier this year, Kendall has leveraged her passion for writing along with her background working with enterprise cloud technologies to strengthen Advent’s external communications.

Posted in Advent Software, Trends

Warning – The Lack of IT Board Representation Could Be Seriously Damaging Your Health

Danger

Over the space of more than ten years with Advent EMEA, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to a lot of wealth managers. Time and time again I run into people who say that IT infrastructure plays a pivotal role in their firm’s growth and profitability, yet not all of them have a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) or equivalent sitting on the board.

When I see lack of representation at the table, I see risk. In particular:

i)  Regulation/compliance – Two-thirds of the wealth managers surveyed in the recent 2014 Technology and Operations Trends Report[1] expect the pace and impact of regulatory change to increase over the next three years, further exacerbating the need to rapidly revise models and operations to cope with the reforms. Without a CTO on the board, firms risk missing out on ideas for leveragingtechnology to better support their regulatory reporting requirements.

ii) Cost control – The growing compliance burden, intensifying market competition, and profitability pressures turn cost control into a priority. Given more than half of a typical wealth manager’s costs are related to technology, I believe it’s vital firms have expert board-level input on how they can implement a more strategic and optimised approach to IT that enhances efficiency and productivity, and enables employees to provide a more professional service to clients.

iii) Client experience – High net worth individuals have on average over three banking relationships. Competition is fierce among financial firms, and the client experience wealth managers provide is being constantly compared against their peers. Technology is a key competitive differentiator, so it’s imperative firms identify ways to maximise the advantages it can bring.

As the 2014 Technology and Operations Trends Report pointed out: “At a time when tech-led models are gaining ground across markets and wealth is in younger hands than ever, digital is rap­idly becoming the differentiator.”

Yet, for instance, less than half of UK firms currently use tablets in client meetings. Meanwhile, client reporting remains an acknowledged area of weakness at many firms.

Say an advisor were able to bring a tablet to their next client meeting, and generate relevant and intelligible custom reports with real-time portfolio and performance data, I’m confident the result would be more satisfied clients with a clearer sense of the value they receive. A board-level CTO would be better positioned to advocate for these sorts of technology improvements.

iv) Strategic direction – Wealth managers need a rigorous IT strategy and a clear understanding of what technology solutions are available if they are to plan for and make investments that can support their future business growth. Experience has taught me that without the expert input of a CTO, boards risk taking sub-optimal decisions that could lead to a loss of competitive edge and profitability underperformance.

According to the Technology and Operations Trends Report, almost 90% of the wealth managers believe technology could play a greater role. To me, the opportunities are evident and alluring: a reduced risk of regulatory censure, a more productive advisor force, an enhanced client experience … provided firms implement the right solutions, and leverage the capabilities effectively.

Furthermore, innovation is gathering pace. If organizations fail to make astute technology investments they will quickly lose out in the battle to win and retain business .

With so much at stake, doesn’t it make sense for the firm’s senior IT expert to have a voice at the board table?

[1]2014 Technology and Operations Trends Report, produced by WealthBriefing/Weatherill Executive Consulting in associa­tion with Advent.

Martin Engdal is Market Strategist and Director of Solution Marketing at Advent EMEA. In this role, he has responsibility for strategic positioning of Advent’s solutions in EMEA and for driving Business Development efforts in Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Posted in Advent Software, Risk, Trends

Toss the Magic Lamp—High-Frequency Trading is Here to Stay

lampHigh frequency trading—both its successes and failures—seem to be weighing heavily on the minds of many investors. I know at AdventConnect last month I had quite a few discussions on this topic. I fielded a ton of questions about preparing for future changes, such as enhanced technology and the predictable expansion of oversight, as many of our clients wonder how high frequency trading could impact their firms.

As history has proved, once the technology genie has escaped, it is here to stay, and high-frequency trading (HFT) is no exception. So, wherever you sit in the financial world—trader, investor, or regulator—get ready to make your three wishes for the future, but before you do, there’s some things you should consider about the infamous (or highly regarded?) practice. “You can’t put the genie back in the lamp.” Tim Sargent, CEO of Naperville, IL- based Quantitative Services Group, made this all too accurate statement about the practice of HFT.

At a very basic level, HFT is automated trading used by large investment banks to manage and fulfill thousands of trade orders via complex algorithms at extremely high speeds. High-frequency traders (HFTs) are power players of the marketplace, and the practice has become increasingly accepted, but it is nonetheless regularly surrounded by controversy.

Here is a brief snapshot of the ongoing debate between HFT advocates and outspoken critics.

Yay-ers:

  • HFT firms arbitrage price disparities, reducing transaction costs, and narrowing the spread between bid and asking prices for securities
  • HFT provides additional liquidity to markets
  • HFT boosts “informativeness” of quotes

Naysayers:

  • HFT can increase volatility in markets due to “panic selling”
  • HFTs can manipulate prices via “spoofing” and “layering,” amongst other unethical tactics
  • HFT firms realize an unfair advantage over average investors, creating two financial markets and allowing front-running of other investors’ trades

Regulators have tried to curb potentially detrimental effects of HFT by proposing solutions to ensure accuracy such as: SEC-assigned ID codes, tax on stock and bond trades, and charging for market intelligence that only HFTs can access. However, critics of tax imposition cite that taxing HFTs would slow the process and render the practice virtually uneconomical.

So, are you wishing for more human reason? Less regulation? Trading in nanoseconds? The tech genie awaits your requests.

For more information about the debate surrounding high-frequency trading, take a look at, High-Frequency Trading: useful tool for liquidity or weapon of mass destruction? or, if you’re a client, join the conversation on Advent Direct Community.

If you’d like to talk about the impacts of HFT at your firm, shoot me an email at Aaron.Adolphson@advent.com.

Aaron Adolphson joined Advent in 2004 as part of the services organization. He is currently a Global Solutions Manager specializing in Trade Order Management, Connectivity, and Rebalancing.

Posted in Advent Software, Trading, Trends

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