Year of the Advisor: Takeaways from 2018 T3 Advisor Conference

Who plans a conference in February in warm and sunny Fort Lauderdale, then packs the program with so much excellent content and attendees that one can hardly find their way outside during a break?

Joel Bruckenstein and his talented team, that’s who. The energy at the 2018 T3 Advisor Conference this past week was contagious and gave me the opportunity to network with some of the best in the WealthTech field. While the conference itself was focused on technology to improve advisor performance, many of the speakers and influencers were happy to share their insights about the wealth management industry and where it was headed.

These are my top takeaways from the conference.

“The future ain’t what it used to be.”

This Yogi Berra quote sums up Ric Edelman’s discussion of exponential technologies, their impact on personal finance and how advisors should advise their clients about the future. “Most of the advice you are giving your clients is wrong, and I would even argue criminally negligent,” stated Edelman. That is, the impact you think future technological advancements will have on you, your clients and family, likely does not even come close to what will actually happen.

My takeaway: The smart phone era effectively didn’t exist 10 years ago. It has changed almost every aspect of your life in some way and more profoundly it has changes entire industries – giants have fallen and new kings made. Telling yourself it won’t happen in your industry is wishful thinking.

Stop worrying about being replaced by technology and embrace it.

Technology is a lever you can use to increase performance and help better serve your clients. As Tim Welsh at Nexus Strategy put it, “Advisors are leveraging technology to enhance relationships with the client, not replace them. It is helping advisors be advisors.” Digitization will help you spend more time with clients and less time on zero return tasks, which Advisor Engine’s Rich Cancro says, will help you “connect, grow and scale.”

My takeaway: In my experience, there is one single common aspect to great advisors who also have valuable practices – they seek to maximize the time they and their team’s spend with clients. In fact, they aspire to 100% client time. That’s an unattainable goal, but technology can close that gap is a big way.

2018 is the year of advisor.

Even in the midst of building an influential company, Riskalyze’s Aaron Klein does not forget to pay it forward and offer valuable insights to attendees. Here’s one of the best: “The job of the financial advisor has never been more important. What we understand after watching the markets over the last few weeks is that risk is real!”

My takeaway: I have seen no evidence that people – investors – want less advice. Nor do they want less human advice. What they clearly want it more choice, more and different interaction, more digital integration with their digitally enabled lives and – most importantly – advisors who are able to help them navigate the full complexity of their intertwined financial and personal lives.

Social media doesn’t help build business, your business is built FROM it.

Social is the number one driver behind everything Josh Brown (@ReformedBroker on Twitter) and his firm (Ritholtz Wealth Management) does. His key tip: “Be consistent and authentic online by letting your personality shine. Be fearless on social media by adopting the mindset that you will NOT be ignored.”

My takeaway: I agree. When I reflect on the individuals and brands I follow on social, it is the most authentic ones whom I trust and seek out. Be true to your personal and professional brand to attract those who are most aligned to your values. BTW – Josh is absolutely worth following on Twitter. Genius.

Conclusion

In an industry with a history of bad actors that have dominated the press, there’s nothing better to do than attend a conference surrounded by some of the industry’s best and brightest. As a proud provider of technology tools designed to empower advisors to achieve more – for their clients, for their firms and for themselves – I’m leaving the T3 Advisor Conference inspired and enthusiastic for the year ahead.

We’ll be working hard at Xtiva to help make 2018 the year of the advisor!