Day two of the Technology Tools for Today (T3) conference started bright and early Friday with introductory remarks by conference organizers Joel Bruckenstein and David Drucker.
Bruckenstein welcomed the crowd to the 10th T3 conference and explained the background of the tech gathering. “T3 as a conference is unique in many ways,” said Bruckenstein. “Here, we don’t get sales people in the exhibit hall. We get the developers and executive leaders who are here to listen to advisors and customize their platforms accordingly.”
A key theme this year Bruckenstein noted was the large presence of advisor-friendly Robo advisor platforms, like Jemstep, Trizik, Upside and more. “These Robo platforms are not competitors,” Bruckenstein said. “So it is worth your while to learn more because as advisors, you need to up your game on technology to remain competitive to the many changes happening with consumer facing technologies.”
Kicking off the conference in the opening keynote and emphasizing this theme was Neesha Hathi, technology leader for Schwab Advisor Services. Hathi asked the room if advisors were spending enough time thinking about the future and how the advisor-client relationship will change due to technology innovation. “Apple sold 34,000 new iPhones per hour,” Hathi noted, using the example of how mobile technology was becoming so pervasive.
Hathi also pointed out that the advisor industry was in need of change due to demographic trends. “Only 16 percent of advisors are in contact with their clients’ children, a big risk to the assets staying long term with their current advisor as those clients age and pass on.”
Following Hathi was a high-energy keynote from Edmund Walters, CEO of eMoney Advisor. Fresh off a monster payday from Fidelity’s recent $250 million acquisition of his company, Walters demonstrated his new eMX platform, a very compelling aggregation of the many applications that advisor use on a daily basis, such as CRM, portfolio management and financial planning, that had 2-way data integrations and could be accessed via a single sign-on.
Using colorful language, Walters informed the attendees that despite the concerns many advisors have expressed about their software being owned by a single custodian, eMoney would remain independent. “Fidelity is a bunch of boy scouts,” Walters commented. “They wouldn’t be in business if they used advisor and client data inappropriately.”
Money Guide Pro, Riskalyze, RiXtrema, Morningstar and Advent Software provided the other general session keynote speeches in the morning session. The balance of the afternoon was jam packed with panel discussions on the latest trends and developments in financial planning software, digital marketing, social media, robo advisors, cyber-security, and portfolio management systems.
As part of its nature, T3 has always been a bare-bones operation, designed that way on purpose by Bruckenstein and Drucker to keep costs for vendors and attendees low. With only the one opening night reception, that leaves plenty of real estate for the vendors to host their own parties, dinners and after hours gatherings to network and entertain advisors.
The featured evening event on day two was clearly the “Cloud Party” hosted by Orion, Riskalyze and Junxure Cloud CRM. Held at the Gossip Bar in the Anatole Hilton, the three vendor hosts provided the perfect venue for conversation, cocktails and connections.
To close out the conference, Day three starts again bright and early on Valentines Day with opening keynotes from Laserfiche, Oranj and Advicent Solutions.
Disclosure: Welsh has consulted with several of the companies mentioned in this article.
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.