The recent Shareholders Service Group (SSG) conference brought together a seminal panel of advisor technology experts for a dynamic hour of discussion and Q&A. SSG is an emerging RIA custodian headquartered in San Diego, CA that has seen impressive growth over the years due to its technology focus and now is serving 1,300 RIA firms.
Led by industry technology guru, Joel Bruckenstein, the technology general session featured Dave Welling, Head of SS&C Advent’s Advisory Business & GM of Black Diamond, Greg Friedman, dual CEO of Junxure CRM and RIA firm Private Ocean, and Tim Welsh, President of Nexus Strategy.
The discussion centered on a few key themes, including cybersecurity, the impact of robo advisors, improving client experience, and how to best utilize your existing technology.
Bruckenstein surprised the audience by opening up with a cybersecurity topic that most had not even considered, reinforcing why advisors need to avoid public Wi-Fi connections whenever they are dealing with client information.
“Right now, hackers are storing any data they can get off of non-secure Internet connections, even if it is encrypted data. Why is this? It is because in 5 years the hackers believe that they’ll have new technology to be able to de-crypt this data and then be able to use it in the future.”
Robo Advisors and the Client Experience
The audience had several questions about the impact of robo advisors. In response, Welling offered up advice to help advisors focus on the true innovation that robos are bringing to the industry. “Currently, the conversation is too much about the investment side of robos, when in reality the key impact the robos are having is on the client experience. At SS&C Advent, we’re taking a lot of lessons from the robo client experience.”
Welling did caution the audience that while there is a lot of good client experience technology out there, the data feeding them is paramount. “In response to the robo threat, there seems to be a proliferation of client portals and data aggregation services connected to your systems these days, which brings up challenges for which platform do you use so that your client only has one login. The key to that decision is that whichever one you choose, you really need to have quality data feeding it.”
On the technology adoption front, Junxure’s Friedman took a page out of his experience in his own RIA firm. “Nine times out of ten, the software you currently own can accomplish what you need it to do, the real challenge is technology adoption.”
Friedman encouraged advisors to focus on existing technology first and that getting staff to use their systems is a leadership issue. “As the firm owner, you need to commit to ongoing training in your core systems – not in Microsoft Word or Excel, but in your CRM and portfolio management systems.”
Bruckenstein’s final question centered on the future of advisor technology. Welling advised the audience to “delineate between what’s cutting edge and what’s practical” that can be applied to their businesses. “We probably won’t be using facial recognition technology, but there are some interesting developments with co-browsing so you can have an interactive meeting with clients using technology, rather than just sending a static PDF.”
Welsh provided his insight into where the future of advisor technology will be headed by pointing to his iPhone. “As more and more of our internet access comes from mobile devices, advisors will need to provide advanced capabilities through mobile apps and meet investors where they spend the majority of their time.”
SSG’s President Dan Skiles concluded the conversation, highlighting the partnership his firm has with SS&C Advent’s Black Diamond wealth platform. “We have over 100 firms on Black Diamond and advisors tell us it is one of the key reasons they selected us as their custodian.”
SS&C Advent has a number of relationships with all of the industry’s leading custodians. To learn more, check out your options with your custodian relationship manager.
Anne Acosta is Senior Manager of Solutions Marketing and leads Advent’s marketing efforts in the advisory space. Joining Advent in 2004, Anne’s financial technology experience spans product marketing, competitive intelligence, product management, and consulting in wealth management and capital markets segments.