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Live from T3 – Tuesday’s Hot Takes

A consultant’s on-the-ground roundup of the biggest announcements and takeaways from the advisor technology conference.

The 2020 Technology Tools for Today (T3) conference kicked off in high style Tuesday morning with some big announcements from tech companies launching new products for financial advisors, and tech entrepreneurs launching new companies.

T3 is known as the place in the wealth management industry where advisor technology companies gather to make announcements about the latest to help advisors better manage their firms and delight clients with a better digital experience.

In a dramatic return to the main stage, serial technology entrepreneur Reed Colley was first up to tell the crowd about the launch of his new technology platform, Summit Wealth Systems.  Colley first appeared at T3 over 12 years ago with the launch of his—at the time, groundbreaking—cloud-based performance reporting platform, Black Diamond. 

Black Diamond may be one of the biggest success stories in the history of the independent wealth management technology industry; it now serves thousands of RIA firms and has over $1 trillion in assets on the platform.  Colley sold Black Diamond to rival Advent Software in 2011 for $73 million and led the integration of the platform into that firm. Advent was subsequently acquired by SS&C for $2.3 billion four years later.

Little wonder there was a standing room only crowd to hear about Colley’s latest venture he is launching with former Advent colleague Anthony Sperling, Summit Wealth Systems.

“We spent months interviewing over 100 advisors and found that their technology was too complicated, there were too many systems, the user experience was bloated with little used functionality and advisors were in the middle of integrations,” said Colley.

According to Colley, Summit Wealth Systems is a modern wealth management platform that includes portfolio accounting and reporting at its core, with wealth modeling, rebalancing and client communication capabilities all built together into a unified system.  Based on Colley’s history of innovation and leadership skills, and the ability to bring elegant solutions to the market, the future looks bright for Summit Wealth Systems.

Next up for company launches was FP Alpha.  Founded by well-known advisor Andrew Altfest, FP Alpha is the first software to use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to streamline, automate and scale the financial planning process.  Audible cries of “wow” were heard from advisors in the audience when Altfest demonstrated the FP Alpha system; he dragged and dropped documents such as wills, insurance policies and tax returns into FP Alpha’s recommendation engines, using natural language processing.  FP Alpha automatically “read” the document and provided planning recommendations, such as converting to a Roth IRA based on the client’s tax return and profile data, in seconds.

FP Alpha’s databases analyses content from over 40 subject matter experts on virtually every planning issue advisors manage in order to extract the correct data from these raw documents and turn them into powerful recommendations in real time. That, combined with automated workflows, task management tools, and a video library, FP Alpha has a chance to be the go-to platform to save advisors countless hours of time and—finally—enable financial planning to scale across their entire client base.

“Our goal is to help advisors kick robos to the curb!” Altfest said in conclusion, and in many of the attendee’s minds, that sentiment definitely resonated in a world of $30 CFP subscription models from Schwab.

Cloud-native platform INVENT returned to T3 after launching one year ago at the conference and presented some staggering growth numbers: Over 10,000 users and $260 billion on the platform. CEO Oleg Tishkevich and Principal Program Manager Jim Zimmerman of Microsoft Azure detailed the many benefits that Cloud-native technology will have on modernizing legacy systems.  “INVENT will be the connective tissue that brings all of the disparate systems advisors, tech vendors, and custodians use together, ensuring data security, speed to market, synchronization, responsiveness and dramatic cost savings,” noted Tishkevich.

“Our call to action is for the industry to take advantage of these powerful innovations in Cloud-Native infrastructure to ‘Invent with us’,  to document your aspirations, identify your goals, and come up with the business case we can all take collectively back to the major players and custodians who control innovation in wealth management to help them prioritize resources, create urgency, and accelerate change.”

Perennial T3 participants Envestnet | MoneyGuide and Orion Advisor Solutions took advantage of the T3 main stage to release significant enhancements to their platforms. Kevin Hughes and Tony Leal of MoneyGuide did their best impressions of the 1970’s TV hit, Mission Impossible, to introduce the latest improvements to MoneyGuide Blocks, with new applications to help advisors and clients better understand the impacts of planning issues on their lifecycles, as well as some slick video marketing tools to help advisors grow their planning businesses.

Orion announced the new Orion Connect experience, a next-generation user interface that blends Orion’s capabilities with a dashboard-based layout that enables users to take action and move throughout the platform. Orion created the new home experience to operationalize information part of an advisor’s day-to-day responsibilities with the ability to personalize home screen views through a custom card library — a collection of widgets displaying different business data so advisors will have access to the data they need, at a glance.

Other big news came from Whealthcare Planning with the announcement that financial services industry veteran Kevin Ruth is joining the company as CEO. Ruth was most recently head of Wealth Planning and Personal Trust at Fidelity Investments and Fidelity Private Wealth Management. Prior to joining Fidelity, Ruth was the head of planning, trust and financial products at UBS and head of private planning at Merrill Lynch. Ruth will oversee the company’s efforts to deliver integrated enterprise solutions.

Wednesday’s action promises to be just as hot as Tuesday’s, as the T3 agenda is again packed with a full day’s slate of new product demo’s, company announcements, networking and the much anticipated “T3 Fintech Party.”  To learn more about what went on at T3 on Tuesday, check out the many tweets on the #T32020 hashtag on Twitter.

Timothy D. Welsh, CFP® is President, CEO 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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