LETTER FROM DALLAS: Day Two at T3 Conference – Going Mobile

T3 Day 2 – February 17, 2012

Friday morning arrived bright and early here at the Technology Tools for Today (T3) conference in Dallas, TX.

Known as “moving day for vendors,” day two at T3 features a packed agenda of keynote speeches, panels and exhibit hall demonstrations. It is here in the exhibit hall that 75 software vendors jockey for position to gain mindshare of the 400 – 500 advisors looking to purchase the latest tools and innovation to make their businesses more efficient and scale with their growth.

The T3 conference is truly a marketers dream in that technology companies have many opportunities to gain exposure, promote their brands and drive traffic to their booths by paying up for various levels of sponsorship. Those with imagination and commitment can stand out from the crowd and one very clever approach by Fidelity had attendees staring. In this case it was a roving robot with a video screen of a Fidelity representative interacting with attendees while promoting Fidelity’s mobile tools. The robot was definitely a crowd pleaser and garnered attention in a very crowded marketplace.

Leading off the morning’s sessions was a conference welcome and agenda setting by T3’s producers, Joel Bruckenstein and David Drucker. Noting that in its 7th year T3 is setting records for number of attendees and vendors, Bruckenstein welcomed the crowd to Dallas and introduced the morning keynotes by TD Ameritrade, Tamarac and Black Diamond Performance Reporting.

Top of mind for these firms were integration opportunities, cloud-based systems and mobile apps. Extending their services and access to advisors on the go via slick, native iPad and Android apps has enabled advisors to tell their performance story in a graphical and intuitive interface. Through cloud and touch screen technology, firms like Black Diamond can provide real time performance reporting information to advisors, so that they can demonstrate on mobile devices wherever they are in the world, how their portfolio is doing, all with the touch of a finger. It is this kind of interactive and innovative wealth management technology that has many wirehouse and bank advisors envious of their independent peers and is also a contributing reason for the breakaway broker phenomenon.

In the bustling exhibit hall, there were several newcomers to the industry debuting some very cool advisor apps. Portfolio analytics provider, Statpro, based in the UK, is introducing a new, cloud based analytics tool called “Revolution.” Sporting a slick interface, colorful charts and powerful analytical tools, Revolution is ground breaking technology. Statpro is taking institutional caliber analytics and risk management tools and bringing them to advisors at a price point that is very compelling. “We’re democratizing analytics,” noted Statpro North America CEO Andrew Peddar. “For as little as $8 per portfolio per month, advisors are able to acquire advanced functionality often reserved for only the largest asset managers and institutions. And because of our cloud model, we’re able to provide access to these capabilities broadly and enable advisors to have a solid message to tell their clients that they are actively protecting portfolios in today’s volatile markets.”

Another killer app that had advisors buzzing was the mobile financial planning tools from innovative financial planning technology firm, Finance Logix. Using a dynamic touch screen interface for the iPhone and Android phones, Finance Logix extended their suite of mobile tools to enable advisors to do retirement planning, college planning and performance reporting with their clients, all on their smart phones. By integrating with Orion Advisor Services performance reporting and portfolio management tools, the new Finance Logix mobile apps basically create an entire mobile advisory office that can be managed and displayed to clients on these now ubiquitous hand held devices.

This type of extraordinary innovation and a promise of what’s to come for advisors was a key theme for the afternoon sessions and panels.

As the day wrapped up, the battle for who would have the best party began. Throughout the day, advisors were solicited by leading tech firms to continue the conversation at invitation only parties, to learn more about technology innovation as well as to cement relationships for future technology purchase decisions. A fun time will be had by all.

Tomorrow will bring the final day of T3, another crowded agenda day that will feature more breaking news on the latest advisor technology for my next post.

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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