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New Trends in Tech at T3

Highlights from last month's advisor technology conference.

Bill Winterberg, 03/10/2011

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Last month IĀ attended the Technology Tools for Today Conference, or T3, in Weston, Fla. Founded by David J. Drucker and Joel P. Bruckenstein of the namesake newsletter service, T3 first launched in 2006 and has grown steadily during the last six years.

This year's conference attracted roughly 500 attendees and over 70 exhibitors covering the spectrum from CRM, document management, and portfolio management software vendors to third-party financial-planning and back-office outsourcing providers.

Bob Veres closed T3 with a keynote in which he reflected upon the progression of the conference. He noted how the makeup of sessions has been remarkably prescient in identifying technology trends in the financial advisor industry. In 2007, the conference featured a panel discussion by advisors who were operating their businesses entirely on virtual workspaces, before the word "cloud" had become as common as it is today. In subsequent years, trending topics included the adoption of electronic document management software, the influence of mobile devices in advice delivery, and the shift away from advisor-centric planning to client-centric planning, where clients play an active role in the process of creating their own financial plan.

What follows is a summary of my key takeaways from T3 that I think play a significant role in advisor adoption of technology over the next few years.

How Technology Is Changing the Advice Landscape
Brent Burns, president and founding partner of Asset Dedication, LLC, delivered the conference's opening keynote with a simple example of how technology is changing the landscape of the service industry, in which all financial advice providers are included. Burns stepped through the process of ordering a pizza from Domino's Pizza. After placing an order through the Domino's website, customers view the progress of their order with the Domino's Tracker. The tracker shows in real-time who is making the pizza, when it gets placed in the oven, a post-bake quality check update, and who prepares the pizza for delivery. As the pizza is delivered, Domino's encourages its customers to "please reward your driver for awesomeness."

If all this happens simply for a $20 pizza order, advisors should take note that their service model deserves to be enhanced in order to deliver a similar experience for clients. When was the last time a client told you that her financial planning meeting was awesome?

Because of technology like the Domino's Tracker, client expectations for service quality and transparency are rising. It's no longer sufficient to meet annually, update a few financial projections, deliver an updated plan, and schedule next year's meeting. Today, clients are more connected than ever and are passively being influenced by companies such as Domino's to always expect an awesome experience.

Bill Winterberg, CFP, is a technology and operations consultant to independent financial advisors. His comments on technology have been featured in a variety of financial industry publications. You can view more information about Bill and see his schedule of upcoming speaking engagements at his Web site, FPPad.com.
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