6 Tech Pre­dic­tions for 2018

Which in­no­va­tions and tools will have the big­gest im­pact on ad­vi­sory prac­tices in the year ahead?

Financial Planning - - CONTENT - By Sule­man Din

Which in­no­va­tions and tools will have the big­gest im­pact on ad­vi­sors in the year ahead?

IT’S AL­MOST 2018, AND YOUR CLIENTS ARE START­ING to won­der why their fi­nances aren’t just as ac­ces­si­ble as an Uber car or a shoutout to Alexa. Get ready for the lat­est in­no­va­tions in mo­bile, ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and mi­croin­vest­ing to make a big leap from the pe­riph­ery into the heart of ad­vi­sor prac­tices.

Here are our pre­dic­tions for the trends and tools that will have a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact over the com­ing year.

EV­ERY­THING MO­BILE

Watch for more fi­nan­cial plan­ning prac­tices to mi­grate to mo­bile. Ad­vi­sors able to de­liver a slick and con­sis­tent ex­pe­ri­ence on an app will have an edge over those who can­not. Ad­vi­sors may also in­creas­ingly find them­selves com­mu­ni­cat­ing with clients via text mes­sages. Re­sponse rates are much higher when you use text as op­posed to email — just make sure your texts are fully com­pli­ant.

VIR­TUAL AS­SIS­TANTS

“Alexa! Bill my clients.” Only a few years ago, ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence was still in the realm of sci­ence fic­tion. No more. Now even the most es­tab­lished RIAS are begin­ning to see how vir­tual as­sis­tants and ma­chine learn­ing can be built into their back-of­fice op­er­a­tions. Banks are also ex­per­i­ment­ing with vir­tual as­sis­tants to au­to­mate tasks and aid ser­vice reps on calls with clients.

Tech com­pa­nies in­clud­ing Ama­zon are pro­vid­ing tools at an en­ter­prise level, and there will be a trickle-down ef­fect. Ex­pect to see a growth of new vir­tual tools for ad­vi­sors to help with pa­per­work, sched­ul­ing and even client in­ter­ac­tion.

Don’t worry, though, about Ai-driven client-fac­ing sup­port; It will still be some time be­fore a bot can an­swer com­plex ad­vice prob­lems.

IN­STANT PORT­FO­LIO REC­OM­MEN­DA­TIONS

Tech tool providers have long touted the ways that they stream­line the fi­nan­cial plan­ning busi­ness, but serv­ing up thought­ful port­fo­lio strat­egy rec­om­men­da­tions still takes time: first, sub­mit a re­quest for an an­a­lyst, then wait for a re­port back.

Fund com­pa­nies ea­ger to de­velop them­selves as ad­vi­sor ser­vice providers are now of­fer­ing plat­forms with al­ter­na­tive strate­gies that are ac­ces­si­ble in a cou­ple of clicks.

This ser­vice is not a sub­sti­tute for speak­ing with an an­a­lyst, but the op­tion dras­ti­cally re­duces the time that it takes to have a re­port in hand.

PROVIDER CROSSOVER

When is a big fi­nan­cial plan­ning soft­ware firm also a white-la­bel hy­brid plat­form provider? Or a gi­ant as­set man­ager a source of tech tools for in­de­pen­dent ad­vi­sors?

That time has come: tech­nol­ogy providers of all stripes are wan­der­ing into the RIA sand­box, sens­ing the mar­ket op­por­tu­nity to serve the break­away ad­vi­sor move­ment. Look for greater ex­per­i­men­ta­tion in of­fer­ings, which means ad­vi­sors will in­creas­ingly be pitched all-in-one plat­form so­lu­tions.

It could also mean that in­de­pen­dent brand you’ve been uti­liz­ing for years will sud­denly get swal­lowed by the cor­po­ra­tion you avoided be­cause you weren’t sure about the level of per­son­al­ized ser­vice.

HY­BRID EX­PAN­SION

If 2017 was the year the big wealth man­age­ment firms claimed as­set dom­i­nance in the dig­i­tal ad­vice space, 2018 will be the year that firms of all sizes equip them­selves with plat­forms al­low­ing for cen­tral­ized ser­vice of clients across the coun­try.

It’s also worth watch­ing how the big­gest firms nur­ture CFP tal­ent to staff ever-grow­ing call cen­ters. Not only will such de­vel­op­ments pro­vide an ag­ing in­dus­try a shot of youth, it will also present RIAS with op­por­tu­ni­ties to re­cruit young CFPS with a deeper back­ground of prac­ti­cal ex­pe­ri­ence — and at very rea­son­able salaries to boot.

MI­CROIN­VEST­ING

If you haven’t been pay­ing at­ten­tion to the mi­croin­vest­ing apps Acorns and Stash, you should start in 2018.

Big­ger firms may talk a good game about at­tract­ing young in­vestors, but it’s mi­croin­vest­ing tools such as these that have made real in­roads into the mil­len­nial mar­ket.

Stash, for in­stance, has more than 1 mil­lion sub­scribers and is grow­ing at a rate of 25,000 sub­scribers a month, the firm says. Of course, the as­sets aren’t there yet, but these firms are ag­gres­sively work­ing to en­sure their young clients grow into wealth and stay with them.

These apps are also com­ing up with new meth­ods to serve clients, of­fer­ing such features as bank­ing and stu­dent loan debt man­age­ment. They may be onto some­thing.

Sule­man Din is tech­nol­ogy edi­tor of Fi­nan­cial Plan­ning. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @sule­mandn.

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