Blog > 2018 Tech Survey

2018 Tech Survey

Advisors compete against expectations set by players outside of financial advice. Called Liquid Expectations, it’s the assumption that a wealth management experience should be just as predictive and effortless as every other digital platform clients use (Amazon, Apple, Netflix, etc).

In this year’s annual advisor technology survey, partnered with F2 Strategy, a wealth management and marketing firm, to find actionable insights based on the data. They identified trends that could have serious, long-term effects for advisors, and we’ve included recommendations on what tech could provide the greatest impact in the years ahead.

A Taste of What’s to Come

Online Portal

“We found that 88 percent of clients have access to an online portal that has up-to-date portfolio performance, holdings and transactions. However, only 56 percent of firms are providing up-to-date data on progress toward their clients’ goals—a full 44 percent of firms are not doing so.”

“Also, consider that over half of those firms are relying on client portals provided by their custodian or broker/dealer. Only 42 percent of advisors are using a third-party client portal offering, only a handful of which roll out improvements and features at what could be described as on a steady clip.”

Our take: you’re saying half of advisors have most of the clients? That’s an amazing statistic. Having an online portal is probably one of the ways these advisors demonstrated their value and grabbed the larger market share. Giving clients real-time access goes a long way in improving client communications and is one of the bigger trends in advisor technology today. Nitrogen’s Client Dashboard lets clients check balances and request changes with just a few clicks, which in turn cuts down on costly administrative time. Retirement Maps, a feature that advisors love using in client meetings, visualizes goal progress even further.

Account Aggregation

“While 66 percent of advisors reported that they were using tools that aggregate their clients’ held-away account assets, a third of advisors were not. Among the remaining third of advisors not aggregating client data, only 49 percent plan to add this to their practice in the next 3 years; 51 percent do not plan to add account aggregation.”

Next Three Years

“How can advisors provide truly holistic financial advice if they’re only getting data on part of a client’s holdings?”

Our take: account aggregation is a standard tool for many of the self-directed platforms out there (Wealthfront, Betterment, etc.), so this isn’t a matter of innovation—it’s a matter of keeping up. Having visibility on all of a client’s holdings has two main benefits for advisors: it provides context for better investment decisions and gives advisors an opportunity to manage those assets later on. With features like Asset Sync, advisors can import outside assets from thousands of institutions, making manual entry a thing of the past.

An additional benefit of using the Risk Number is that advisors can analyze the risk in a client’s existing portfolios, and also analyze return efficiency with our GPA metric. For clients with holdings outside of your firm, this could be the motivation they need to move their assets.

“These results, considered in isolation, are probably not that surprising. Consider them in light of developments among business-to-consumer digital investment services like Wealthfront, Personal Capital, and upstart CinchFinancial, all of which are baking real-time tracking of progress toward financial goals and account aggregation into their core digital offerings—and this lack becomes more troubling.”

Our take: modern clients expect an easy, digital experience in every aspect of their lives. What this survey highlights is an inherent discrepancy in what clients expect and what advisors implement in their practice. Advisors that are unable to meet client expectations, demonstrate value, and keep up with industry trends are at risk of falling through the technical gap.

While this survey does bring up some grim statistics, it should also serve as a reminder that the tools advisors need to succeed and thrive in this digital environment already exist! Advisors aren’t re-inventing the wheel like the advisors of 30, or even 20 years ago. Innovation is happening across every industry, and advisors can reap the benefits of this new technology seamlessly through integrations with tools they already use. It’s never been easier or more cost-efficient to provide a superior client experience.

This survey originally appeared in in partnership with Doug Fritz, CEO of F2 Strategy.

To see the Risk Number, Client Dashboard, and Retirement Maps in action, book a demo with us! We’d love to show you around the world’s #1 Firm Growth Platform.

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