Advizr CEO Hussain Zaidi
Advizr CEO Hussain Zaidi

Live from T3 Enterprise Conference: Financial Planning Technology Takes the Stage

Financial planning technology has become the hottest product the big institutions are looking to deploy to better differentiate their advisors.

While Day One featured cybersecurity networks and fintech accelerators, financial planning technologists took over the agenda on the second day of the 2017 Technology Tools for Today Enterprise Conference.

In a sign for where the wealth management industry is headed, financial planning technology has become the hottest product the big institutions are looking to deploy to better differentiate and de-commoditize their advisors from the sea of automated advice platforms.

In a sign of its growing momentum, Advizr delivered the opening keynote on Day Two.  Advizr CEO Hussain Zaidi pointed out that despite the benefits of financial planning to advisors and their affiliated institutions, there is still a dearth of planning going on.

“Clients who do planning are 85% more likely to be on track for retirement, and advisors who do planning are 60% more profitable than advisors who don’t,” Zaidi noted. “Despite these great advantages, only 1 in 3 advisors do planning and only 26% of all clients receive a financial plan.”

To combat this gap as robots and automation make inroads into wealth management, Zaidi says Advizr is on a mission to “drastically increase the adoption of financial planning.” Fresh off a Series A round of funding from Franklin Templeton, SEI Investments and several other venture capitalists, Advizr is launching two new products: Advizr Workplace and Advizr Accelerate.

Advizr Workplace is a self-directed solution that allows financial institutions, registered investment advisors, broker/ealers, banks and 401(k) providers to provide financial planning to the typically underserved markets of mass affluent and younger investors. First customers on Workplace are Blackstone’s Alight (the former Aon Hewitt) with 4 million participants and Fedex with 500,000 employees, showing off Advizr’s scalability.

Advizr Accelerate introduces execution capabilities to financial planning, enabling advisors to implement their recommendations directly from the Advizr platform. As advisors and clients go through the planning recommendations, account opening and order entry process workflows are automatically launched via integrations with custody and clearing firms such as Apex. According to Zaidi, the ability to implement recommendations on the spot will go a long way towards clients adopting and implementing a plan.

Following Advizr was MoneyGuidePro’s Bob Curtis, known for his theatrical presentations at T3. In the past he’s used drones to deliver financial plans, executives in costume, and even a 20-minute Monty Python skit. This year, Curtis reached into his bag of tricks to bring up a single Cirque du Soleil gymnast for a two-minute human performance art as metaphor for the launch of his new planning platform, MoneyGuidePro Flex. 

MGP Flex is a grouping of the various components of the vast MoneyGuidePro platform broken into multiple product sets, designed to help drive planning among advisors who don’t offer it, as well as helping advisors “move up the value chain.” MGP is also having success with its “myMoneyGuide” client self-initiated planning tools, helping to increase planning adoption and scale by having clients do much of the data gathering process.

This approach, making technology more user-friendlier to both advisors and clients, was a key theme from Davis Janowski, a senior analyst with Forrester Financial, former trade publication tech reporter and an early hire at Wealthfront. Janowski made it a point to let the T3 attendees know that the industry needs to change. 

“We are in the midst of a sea change and the growing crop of millenials, an 89 million strong cohort, will not want to invest the same way as the generations before them,” Janowski said.

Janowski pointed to the success of firms like Acorns, Trizic, AdvisorEngine, Folio and Marstone as technology platforms who “get it” and are building the right kind of technology that will appeal to the next generation of investors. “The time to build trust with your future clients is now, so firms can’t ignore the millenials,” he said.

Finishing off Day Two was the much-anticipated reception held at one of the Cosmopolitan Hotel’s trendy bars. Attendees continued their networking and deal making, while ogling the crazies dressed up in outlandish costumes to celebrate Halloween, Las Vegas style. 

Tomorrow’s finishing half-day will feature dozens of 12-minute “flash sessions” from the many technology vendors looking to impress institutional buyers with their platform’s capabilities to drive operational efficiencyies, create a better client experience, and simplifying as many of wealth management’s business processes as possible.

Timothy D. Welsh, CFP™, is President and Founder of Nexus Strategy, LLC, a leading consulting firm to the wealth management industry, and can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @NexusStrategy.

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