In the last week of October, executive leadership from numerous independent broker-dealers and large RIAs gathered in South Florida for the 2019 T3 Enterprise Conference (as differentiated from the T3 Advisor Conference that is predominantly attended by individual/independent advisors). Hosted by Joel Bruckenstein and his team from T3 Consulting Services, the two-day conference mixed networking, panel sessions, and vendor presentations, focused more on enterprise-level solutions.
In this guest post, Craig Iskowitz – CEO and founder of Ezra Group, a financial technology consulting firm – shares his signature Twitter-driven recap of the conference, which featured new enterprise-level AdvisorTech offerings, interviews with industry leaders around emerging financial planning trends, and discussions on the challenges (and opportunities) that firms face in a rapidly-changing landscape.
Craig kicks off his recap highlighting Shirl Penney’s observation that fear and inertia are preventing advisors from going independent, but notes that they’re also limiting countless advisory firms who won’t let go of their legacy technology (thus keeping legacy vendors in business). Also casting a long shadow over the proceedings was the Black Friday Crash of (Trading) Commissions, which Penney predicts will lead custodians to start charging for their technology (although Craig points out that there are far more intriguing possibilities for new revenue streams… particularly for smaller RIAs).
Another major theme permeating discussions at this year’s T3 Enterprise conference was the ongoing difficulties with vendor integrations. David Ballard from Ladenburg Thalmann pointed out that firms looking to integrate technology stacks and databases experience too many headaches, and that vendors should take the lead on building those integrations amongst themselves before pushing them out to the end-user.
Other highlights included presentations from:
- InterGen Data, which combines government census data with other demographic data sets to deliver unique insights into future life events that could have a significant impact on clients and their families;
- Whealthcare Planning, whose platform gives advisors tools to help with challenges their aging clients are facing, including helping retirees letting go of their independence around decision-making, driving, and domicile;
- BidMoni, whose FiduciaryShield aims to create a marketplace to connect advisors with service providers when supporting company retirement plans (e.g., record keepers, custodians and TPAs);
- Morningstar, which introduced Goal Bridge, a (free) financial planning software aimed not at selling financial products, but at selling data and analytics instead; and
- Mike Ragunas, CIO of Cetera Financial, who presented details around their implementation of AdvicePay for their new subscription-based direct billing platform.
Ultimately, the 2019 T3 Enterprise Conference brought together a wide range of vendors and firm leaders with the goal of exploring ways to bring real value to their clients through improving the onboarding process and overall experience, while finding opportunities to increase integrations in order to improve firm efficiency and client retention. And, with the trend towards consolidation and aggregation of data and accounts, it behooves fintech providers to focus on integrations and making sure that the user experience is fast, painless, and seamless… or they can be sure that someone else will.