In this podcast special recorded live in the T3 Podcast Station powered by Myriad Advisor Solutions at the 2023 T3 Technology Tools for Today Advisor Conference, co-hosts Marie Swift and Jonny Swift speak to conference speakers, industry thought leaders and advisors about what's hot and happening at #T32023. From intriguing presentations on the main stage to all the fintech on display in the exhibit hall, hear the biggest takeaways and insights from:
SwiftCams from the 2023 T3 Technology Tools for Today Advisor Conference
Transcript of the Hot & Happening Conversations
Marie Swift: Hello and welcome to Hot & Happening at T3. This is your host, Marie Swift. You're about to hear a compilation of conversations with some of the best and brightest in the fintech and financial services world. These conversations were recorded live at the 19th T3 Technology Tools for Today Conference, which was held mid-March 2023 in Tampa, Florida.
You'll be hearing from a variety of luminaries and innovators as well as a number of financial advisors who will share what they found to be Hot & Happening at T3. Let's get started.
Welcome back to another great Swift Chat, or Hot & Happening with T3, depending on where you're listening to this. I have with me today Joel Bruckenstein. Joel, we just got done being together in Tampa at the 19th T3 Technology Tools for Today Conference in Tampa. Tell us some of the highlights.
Joel Bruckenstein: One of the highlights was certainly cybersecurity. Our T3 Insight Information Survey the 2023 edition was released at the conference and it still shows that the vast majority of advisors have never engaged with a cyber third-party expert. We had a number of experts at the conference, and one of the things that certainly came out of it is that advisors are still not doing enough, and that the majority of firms we think are at some risk.
There was a white paper that Trade-PMR released at the conference regarding cybersecurity. There was another white paper that Mark Hurley released also around cybersecurity. Both talk about some of the challenges and opportunities that advisors face with regard to cybersecurity. I certainly think both of those white papers are worth downloading. For those interested in the full T3 Insight Information Tech Survey, you can download it at the T3 Technology Hub. There's no charge to download the survey.
Swift: Kind of dovetailing on that, you gave two awards and one of them ties into cyber security and some new innovation there. Would you talk about that and the two awards please?
Bruckenstein: We gave out two awards. One was a lifetime achievement award to Bob Curtis, who was the founder and former CEO of MoneyGuide.
We gave an emerging technology award to Buckler.app. That's the website. Buckler is really a full cyber program online. It's very inexpensive. Given the fact that most independent advisors are not doing enough in the area of cyber, we really strongly recommend that advisors take a look at that and they probably need it. With our emphasis on cyber, it just seemed natural that we give the award to Buckler.
Swift: Fantastic. There were a lot of big announcements too. All of those are on your website, T3Conferences.com and or T3TechnologyHub.com. Let's talk about two of those. The T3 ActiFi platform and then the Open VRM. Tell me about that.
Bruckenstein: One of the big challenges that came out of another conference I was at that was regarding compliance, is advisors are struggling to do their due diligence on third party vendors. Open VRM is something that I got involved with. It's an opportunity for all vendors to upload all of their due diligence documents onto one website, and for advisors then to go to that website with permission from the vendors to download the documents.
Right now, the typical advisory firm may have 20 plus vendors that they're dealing with. They need to send out emails to all of them and then follow up with all of them to get the documentation they need to meet their compliance requirements. Here, hopefully if we can get a critical mass of vendors on there and custodians, advisors will be able to go to one place to get all the documents they need.
Let's talk about the T3 platform then we can get to Altruist. So T3 in conjunction with ActiFi is going to build out what I would call something like a virtual technology consultant. The idea being that an advisory firm, for subscription price, can go to one spot answer some questions and then be guided to a short list of technologies that would be suitable for their firm. And the other part of it will be utilization gauge.
Most advisory firms don't get the full value out of their software. How do you know that you are really using your software effectively? Over time we'll be able to track how you're using it and help you get more value out of the software you pay for.
Another big announcement at T3 was the altruist merger with shareholder service group. I think that's really interesting for advisors. I think Altruist had great technology, but not enough advisors on the platform. I think Shareholders Service Group is known for their service offering. The technology's okay, but it certainly could have been better. Shareholders Service Group advisors will get better technology and Altruists will have a lot more advisors on the platform. That looks to me to be a win-win.
Swift: It sure does. There were so many great announcements that we don't have enough time to go through them all. Again, they're on the two websites. T3TechnologyHub.com and T3Conferences.com. We had two touching tributes. They were video tributes, one by Greg Friedman and one by Aaron Klein.
Could you talk about those?
Bruckenstein: We lost a couple of folks that have been part of the T3 community for years. Gavin Spitzner and you know, Greg's colleague, Ken Golding. Ken was one of the original founders of Junxure. He came to T3 for years. He was very influential, not just in the T3 community, but in the fintech community overall.
Gavin was also very well liked, very involved in the community. He did a lot of great things for a lot of great people. We just wanted to pay tribute to them and thank them for all they did for the community.
Swift: Indeed. In the last little bit of time that we've got, will you talk about some of your favorite sessions?
Bruckenstein: It's hard to pick out favorites because I really enjoy just about every session I go to. A couple of highlights for me, it was always a pleasure when I get to interview execs from Schwab, particularly right now, with the upcoming merger of their two platforms. I think they really put a lot of questions to rest about what's going on there.
It was also timely with what was going on in the markets at the time, and a lot of the nervousness in the marketplace, so that was nice. I love what Orion is doing around behavioral finance. Just hearing some of the advances they're making in technology.
I always enjoy presenting with Bob Veres on our tech survey, that's a lot of fun and I think very informative. We had a packed house for that. Trade PMR did a great job on their session around cybersecurity and they're trying to really give back to the industry, so that was fantastic. Morningstar hosted our VIP reception where I learned a lot just talking to some of the folks who were in attendance.
What else can I tell you? There were a number of sessions that touched on AI and the importance of data, and I think all of those were really, really interesting.
Swift: We also had some non-technology related sessions. Would you touch on some of those?
Bruckenstein: I think the scope of T3 is sort of expanded over the years because technology really touches on everything now.
When you think about cybersecurity, you're also getting into compliance. We had Shirl Penney and Brian Hamburger talking about M&A in the industry, and it was really a masterclass on M&A in the space. You have cyber, you have practice management, you have M&A. I just think pretty much all the areas that technology touches on get covered at T3.
Swift: You're going to take a little time off, a little R&R and then come back and start planning number 20, the 20th anniversary. What can we expect?
Bruckenstein: We're really looking forward to next year. It's our 20th anniversary, so we're going to try and go big.
We're just finalizing right now the venue and we'll be announcing the venue and some of the speakers, hopefully within the next month or two. I definitely expect to have the venue nailed down within the next month. We'll be planning that as soon as I get back from vacation. We're very enthusiastic.
I think this year was extremely well received by everybody who attended. The other one I should give a shout out to is AdvisorEngine. They've really gone out of their way to support T3 over the last few years. Their booth was jam packed at every break. There's a lot of exciting things going on there. I think they're doing a great job both with their CRM and on the investment side of the house. We're excited to have them back, I'm sure as a big sponsor next year as well.
Swift: How cool was that to have a supplement to Action! Magazine with you on the cover and a whole spread about, I think it was called Tough Love with Joel Bruckenstein, that's also on your websites.
Bruckenstein: Yes, it is.
Swift: With that, we will say goodbye. Thanks so much for spending some time with us. Have a lovely vacation wherever it is you're going.
Bruckenstein: Thank you so much, Marie. We'll be back soon.
Swift: All right. Welcome back to Hot & Happening at T3. I'm joined now by Bob Veres, who is the publisher producer of Inside Information, and also one of the people who, how do we describe the role that you and Joel have together with the survey?
Bob Veres: It's really hard to say. Joel tells me what to do when I do it, I think is essentially the way it works. Although, a lot of Joel's insights find their way to the survey somehow, I'm not sure how.
Swift: We'll say co-producers then. We have talked about the survey and other media outlets while you're here, but I'm thinking that for this podcast we want to talk about trends that you're seeing. What's bubbling up as you make your way from session to session, booth to booth?
Veres: Every year I hear from the pulpit, so to speak, how AI is going to transform the profession, and how big data is going to transform the profession, and how fintech software is going to transform the client experience, and we're going to have a digital client experience.
Every year I go away with ranging from mild to severe disappointment because none of that stuff is manifesting. But this year the buzz has been how ChatGPT is potentially going to transform advisors’ lives. One of my favorite things about it is that this time around a new technology is not feared by the profession. They're not scared of it like they were the robos.
There's a possibility that we're going to leverage some new, exciting technology. We're not sure how yet, but it seems to be a really good search tool. It seems to be a good way to start the process of writing things. There are a number of people in the exhibit hall who seem to be looking pretty hard at how to do it.
Big data is still a horrible disappointment to me and the client experience. I'm still wondering how everybody who talks about a great client experience, the only manifestations I see of it are marketing. How do I get that client journey started by getting people's attention and engaging them on a website?
There's a lot of that. There's a lot of new engagement tools and RiskWise came out with one, MoneyGuidePro has a bunch of new ones, and so there's a little bit of that, but the client journey stuff, I'm just not seeing it right now.
Swift: This is a place where people come to problem solve and there's a lot of conversation in the hallways, in and around the sessions and in these booths.
You've been a participant for so many years. What have you seen as some of the highlights of the community coming together to problem solve?
Veres: Every year the fintech profession, or cohort, whatever you call them, come here and talk intensely to each other. I think sometimes the advisors who come here feel a little bit left out.
They’re wandering around, they're looking for a whole lot of solutions. But then after hours, all the fintech people get together and they figure out how to integrate with each other and what they're doing and collaborate. I think there's an awful lot that goes on behind the scenes that improves our fintech experience, but it's not visible to the attendees, if that makes sense, or visible to the advisor attendees.
Swift: I know that many advisors come just to go to the exhibit hall because it's a virtual shopping mall right here, only it’s very specific and they can talk to the developers. What would you say to advisors who haven't been to T3?
Veres: The first thing I'd say is that you can do a year's worth of shopping and due diligence for fintech here in three days, and that's a pretty big-time savings. The idea that you can demo as many as a hundred different products in, if you come here with specific ideas about what you want and what you need. It's pretty clear where those booths are and you can kind of plan your journey.
The other thing I would tell people is that there's an awful lot of new stuff out there, that is not going to show up on your radar unless you walk around this exhibit hall, and literally this exhibit hall is the only place you're going to see a lot of that stuff.
Swift: The other thing is, with the survey, they could use that survey as a guide to hone in more specifically whether the technology provider is here in the hall or maybe they need to do a demo virtually. I think that the survey you and Joel never really expected it would be a marketing tool, but it's a guide, isn't it, for people looking for solutions?
Veres: It's certainly an information resource and I'm really glad that to see how many people are using it that way. I think someday we're going to probably have to put the websites of all the different providers in the survey somewhere, because you have to find them yourself.
The convenience here is you walk the exhibit hall and you can find people and talk to them pretty quickly and easily. I think what the software survey has done more than anything else is opened people's minds to all the different solutions that are out there. I think a lot of people were using three or four different categories and now they see there's 36 different categories, and all of them are robust solutions of one sort or another that advisors are using, and using effectively.
Swift: In closing, is there anything else you'd like to say?
Veres: I'm a little sloshed from drinking beer at the Advisor Engine booth. I probably shouldn't even be talking to you at this point after the seventh beer. One of the things that I really enjoy about this conference is all the giveaways at the booths.
They're really creative, like little iPod holders. I don't know why you would need an iPod holder, but it's not just pens, and pencils, it’s also whiskey, and beer, and iPod holders, and Frisbees. There's a fun element to it too. Everybody thinks T3 is nerdy, but it's the most fun, nerdy experience you can have.
Swift: On that, I think we should say goodbye and let you get back to the craft beer tasting.
Veres: It's right over there. It's calling me.
Swift: Thanks Bob.
All right, we're back. It's Hot & Happening at T3. I'm joined by John Mackowiak, chief Revenue Officer of Advyzon. John, you made a couple of big announcements from the stage. One is regarding the survey, and one is regarding a new thing called Nucleus.
John Mackowiak: Yes. First off, thank you for having me, Marie. This week we announced our model marketplace called Advyzon Nucleus. That's part of our AIM group, Advyzon Investment Management. We started last year with the initial announcement of AIM along with our rebalancer, Quantum. It kind of builds on both of these two ideas of rebalancing and investment management. Throughout the course of the year, we developed those two.
All along, we've been developing this model marketplace because as much as we would like our clients to exclusively invest in the AIM portfolios, we know that's not realistic. We want to bring in third party managers, really open things up for our clients to really get broad exposure from not just our team, but maybe managers they're already working with that they really like. Importantly, and I've been discussing this all week, this is all proprietary technology.
It's not just, oh, we've opened a model marketplace. Yes, it's the models. Yes, it's the outside managers, but it's also about the user experience. A focus of Advyzon from day one is the user experience. Having everything built into our platform, having it play nice with every other piece of the system, is really why we went down that road.
Then you asked about the survey results as well. We're thrilled Advyzon once again six years in a row now, highest client satisfaction in the all in one category, which as far as I can tell, is a very hot category with advisor tech.
One of the things that really excites me is our CRM. If you look at the top seven in market share, our CRM was number one in client satisfaction. I said it last year, I'll say it again. I'm pumped about that because that was one of the pieces early on that people thought we were nuts to attempt. We really, from day one, believed in this idea of a comprehensive platform. To see the CRM delighting our users like we have always hoped is great.
Then portfolio management, the reporting stands on its own as well. Top 13 in market share, Advyzon was number one in client satisfaction, seeing those two. Then Bob Veres, paraphrasing here, I didn't memorize the quote, but he said something along the lines of “it's conceivable that Advyzon is best of breed in every category they compete in.” That's coming back to our team when we get back to Chicago.
Swift: Well, that's really saying something. Is there anything that's happening next year that you want to allude to?
Mackowiak: Oh, breaking news. Early next year, dates are still being finalized, but we are expecting to announce and host the Advyzon conference, hopefully February of ‘24 will is what we're looking at right now. Nothing set in stone just yet.
Swift: That will be exciting. The first ever Advyzon conference. Do you have a name picked out yet?
Mackowiak: We're leaning towards Advyzon Amplify, but do reserve the right to change that one.
Swift: Right, very good. Always a pleasure to see you. Thank you, John.
Mackowiak: Thanks, Marie.
Swift: We're back at T3 and I'm talking now to Brian Edelman of FCI and you are a gentleman I've known for a long time and you're making news and airwaves here at T3. You received an award, and you have a new announcement. So rather than me telling our listeners what's going on, why don't you tell us, what's going on?
Brian Edelman: Being in cybersecurity for a long time and passionate about protecting financial services, sometimes we look at the industry and say, what's missing? What we noticed is that there's been a significant increase in the pressures from regulators in order to make sure that financial advisors, financial institutions are much more cyber secure.
That challenge is a very complex challenge. What they're being asked to do without some way of being able to, in essence, have a guide rail, a system that will take you through the complexity of what the regulators are asking you to do and make it consumable, make it something that the advisors and the advisory firms and the institutions can follow.
That's really what allows them to, it's not that they wouldn't want to comply, but it certainly allows them to comply with exactly what's being requested of them. We built a system that in essence, and created a program management for cybersecurity, that takes all the regulations and makes a series of tasks that they can follow.
When it says that you have to appoint, for example, a security officer, that becomes a task. They mark it complete, and now they can evidence that they actually fulfilled on that part of the regulation. Now, that requirement might fit four or five different regulations, but in our system, we have a regulation match that makes it the one task, so it makes it much more achievable.
Swift: You have been perfecting, studying, working on this solution or these problems for the industry for many, many years. What is the award that you received today? Joel Bruckenstein asked you to come to the stage, and what was that about, and why did he call you up?
Edelman: I think that Joel and Joel's commitment, and he's another one that is so committed to the success of this industry. Joel has been for years looking at this and saying, “Hey guys, cybersecurity. I know it's not as exciting as something that might help you serve a client or make money, but it is a necessary part of protecting a client.” His real commitment behind that I think prompted the excitement behind a system that can help advisors and make an impact on those advisors.
He gave us the award and we're very thankful to get that award. Even his comments throughout the show have been really encouraging when they showed on the survey how cyber is just not being adopted in this industry as much as possible. I believe that we're all hoping that this effort creates an impact on that result.
Swift: I know that cybersecurity has been a big focus of the T3 conference this year, and it looks like the audience is really starting to sit up in their seats and pay attention. We're seeing that in the survey results, the T3 insight information survey as well.
Edelman: We did a presentation to give the firms a series of questions that they could ask their cyber teams, or their IT teams, or even their company, really look at those answers and be able to determine, are we a cyber secure organization?
When I tell you that under normal circumstances, they look out. When I look into the audience, I see just a look of fear. That's not the intent. It's not to scare them, but it's to empower them to take that action. I was very encouraged to see all of the note taking, and really the comments that came after it were also very encouraging to see that. I believe that if you give somebody a task to do that they really want to do, and you give them the tools to do it, I think we'll see a profound result.
Swift: Well, thank you for your work. Thank you for being here. And congratulations on the acknowledgement.
Edelman: I thank you, and I thank you for the podcast. It's terrific.
Swift: We're here at the T3 conference. I'm joined now by Spenser Segal. He is the CEO of ActiFi. And Spenser, you announced something very cool here at the conference. Tell us about that.
Spenser Segal: We're super excited. Get to partner with my longtime friend, Joel Bruckenstein, to really bring a more digital, interactive ability to select software, and more importantly, utilize software more effectively.
Joel and I have spent a lot of years consulting in this space, and for the average advisor, they don't necessarily have the wherewithal or desire to hire an in-person consultant. How can they sort through all of the different capabilities and all of the different ways in which advisors can become more productive using software? This new digital dashboard is going to help them do exactly that.
Swift: You're combining all of the expertise, Joel Bruckenstein, T3, you, and the ActiFi team. What can they expect? Is it a dashboard, a digital experience, consulting?
Segal: Yeah, it's a couple components. It's a dashboard. It is an interactive assessment, so it'll ask you questions, same types of questions we would ask if we were in person in terms of what your needs are, what some of your constraints are. Then it'll actually score different solutions based upon the criteria that you set forth.
Swift: If I'm a consultant or an enterprise and I don't use the full spectrum of software that's available, how would you work with them?
Segal: That's a great question. One of the things we're going to do is white-label this solution for internal consulting groups within broker dealers and TAMPs and custodians, where they have a talented team of consultants, but there maybe isn't the same level of consistency, or they haven't taken the same amount of time that Joel Bruckenstein has in terms of really evaluating all of these different vendors.
Within the white-labeled solution, they're actually able to constrain the set of vendors to the ones that they're partnered with. There's some real creative ways to really raise the bar in terms of the quality of the advice that those consultants can deliver to their advisors.
Swift: Fantastic. I know that we'll put a link with this podcast in the show notes, but it'll be available. People can learn more at ActiFi.com and also T3Conferences.com and T3TechnologyHub.com. Anything else to add, Spenser?
Segal: Fantastic conference and really enjoying seeing this explosion, in terms of fintech and capabilities. The last point I would make is that there's never been a better time to be an advisor in terms of the capabilities that are available to you. It has become more complex to determine how do I utilize these things, and really leverage them in a way that's going to make my business better. The capabilities have grown very quickly, but the ability to take advantage of those still remains relatively difficult. We’re going to try to simplify that process a little bit for some of the advisors that we wind up working with.
Swift: Thank you for being here, Spenser Segal.
Segal: My pleasure. Thanks Marie.
Swift: We're here at the T3 Technology Tools for Today Conference. I'm joined now by Nitin Seth. Nitin, you are the CEO of Incedo. You just gave a great presentation on a survey that your team did about data readiness. Tell us a little bit about that.
Nitin Seth: Thanks Marie, thanks for the conversation. You recall that last year I'd spoken about winning in the digital age. As you think about digital, and what it takes to succeed, clearly the biggest kind of swing factor, so to say, is data.
If you look at firms which are winning, and the firms which are lagging, the biggest kind of difference is data. What we've also seen in our work in the wealth management industry is that the firms are struggling quite a bit. Getting their arms around data, getting it the right place, right time is a challenge.
What we thought was that the best way to understand data is through data. We have partnered this year with T3, which we are very thankful for, to do an industry-wide data readiness survey. We were able to get more than 40 participants who have shared quite some details about how they're approaching data. We have some really, really interesting findings, which I shared in the morning.
Swift: What stands out? I know that you work with enterprises primarily, is that right? Then they help advisors through their enterprise solutions. What stands out for enterprises to be thinking about now?
Seth: I think the biggest headline, Marie, is that 80% of respondents felt that their data initiatives were not well aligned with their business objectives. Now that's a very, very big number. Generally, you would expect a lack of alignment between strategy and execution. But I think in the wealth management industry as far as data goes, it's a particularly big number.
80% feeling that the data initiative was not well aligned with business strategy is pretty big. Now, when you double click on that, in particular, what you find is that lot more of the attention is going on, the data infrastructure and lesser amount of the investment is going on inside generation and integration of those insights into the client journeys.
Now when you contrast that with the business priorities, 80% respondents said that, “Hey, our biggest priority is the end client, is the client acquisition, growth, retention, but only 20% of the investment is going there.” That to me is really the key highlight and the call for action for the wealth management industry that we need to balance this.
A lot more of your investment is going on the core underlying data infrastructure. You’ve made some progress there. Now you need to shift the balance a lot more in terms of getting to the right insights and then integrating them into the user journeys.
Swift: What are some of the solutions with this challenge that you're seeing?
Seth: When you think about solutions, often it jumped to a technology solution. I want to make it very clear that the data issue is not just a technology issue. In fact, I think one of the problems in how enterprises have dealt with data is to think of it as a technology infrastructure issue or as a physical infrastructure issue.
Now that issue is there, but it is lot more of a logical issue. It is lot more of a business issue. Now, data today is so vast, it is really an explosion that has happened on volume, on variety, on velocity. If you try to get your arms around all of that, you will certainly fail, because the data is growing a lot more than your ability to bring it together.
Really, the starting point has to be to narrow down, better define your business objectives, narrow them down. If you try finding a needle in the very big haystack, you are going to lose it. That is the starting point. Now there is a lot more to be done.
At Incedo, we have developed this 12-part solution framework. The starting point is of course sharpening the business requirements, but then there is a data ecosystem, there is a technology infrastructure, there are the core processes, and there is also organization and culture. There are multiple levels that you need to go through.
Swift: I'm thinking about the solutions that Incedo provides, and also the survey itself, the report. Is the survey still open? Can people still take that?
Seth: Yeah, the survey is very much open. It's a running survey and I would very much encourage those enterprises who have not had a chance to participate in the survey to do so.
It is completely free and you are going to get a baseline. You're going to get some very helpful calibration of where you stand vis-a-vis your peers. That's something I would absolutely encourage, it's a no regret move. Everybody should fill up the survey.
Once you've done that, then in terms of how Incedo can help, and where we would like to really partner with the companies, is to do a more detailed diagnostic. The survey will give you a baseline, but then it's, okay, so what? What do I do? And for that, our recommendation is to do a more detailed diagnostic, which will help you zone down those 12 levels that I talked about, where exactly should you focus?
Swift: T3 will put the link to the survey on the blog. Listeners, if you want to go to T3Conferences.com, you will find a blog post about the data readiness survey assessment. Please participate if you are in enterprise and you're interested in finding out how you rate and how the diagnostic would help you. Then there will be a link to the Incedo website for listeners who'd like to learn more and to get in touch with you. Nitin, thank you so much.
We're back at Hot & Happening with T3 guests and I'm joined now by Mark Hurley with Digital Privacy and Protection. You’re going to be talking here tomorrow about a paper, and it's about digital privacy and protection, isn't it?
Mark Hurley: Right. We will be releasing a white paper contemporaneous to the session that looks at an issue that deals with cyber for the clients of wealth management firms, as opposed to the firms themselves.
What the paper goes into great detail about is why wealth managers in the not too distant future are going to have to play a role in helping their clients manage these cyber risks and how they're likely to do that.
Swift: So how can they do that?
Hurley: One of the things that is sort of funny about this whole industry is that it quite candidly is not very complicated to help clients do this, and it's inexpensive.
It largely involves using some widely available, inexpensive technology and doing a series of small steps that in the aggregate are a lot, but none of which are quite that complicated. What you do is you create a personal digital protection structure. You effectively compartmentalize their information, and it involves getting all the client's accounts into a password manager, resetting all their passwords to something that's randomly generated and sophisticated, and then turning all the numerous privacy and security settings on devices, online accounts, apps, and search engines.
If you do that, you make your client a hardened target. While everybody gets hacked eventually, even the DOD and CIA get hacked. You as a hardened target, it becomes much less frequent. More importantly, the damage is a fraction of what it used to be. It's like managing any other risk.
You can't really eliminate risk, but you can make it so it's tolerable. Now why we think wealth managers are going have to do this, falls into four reasons. Number one, they are fundamentally in the business of managing risk to client's wealth. They manage investment risk, tax risk, PNC, and cyber creates four direct threats to the client's wealth and wellbeing.
One is obvious, it's stealing their assets online, but I don't have to even hack your accounts to steal your assets. I can just steal your identity. And that really involves cyber privacy as opposed to cybersecurity. It takes a very little amount of information to steal someone's identity, and the over 50% of the time it's children who are being targeted because they now have social security numbers.
The third area involves a client's ability to make a living. There's a thing called doxing, and what it is, is people go in, if you don't guard your cyber privacy carefully, and they can collect enough information to create a false half-truth about you. Somebody you hired or you fired or didn't hire, or maybe I dated gets angry. What they will do is go online and publish a false half-truth about you. This can be very serious. People have found instances where they were accused of saying, well, he left the last job not because there was a great opportunity, but rather because they got caught sexually harassing somebody or they molested a child.
The reason why this is so serious is once it's online, it's forever online. But the single greatest threat to clients that cyber poses is to their physical safety. Have you talked to the FBI? This is the thing that concerns them most. Unless you carefully guard your cyber privacy and your cybersecurity, it creates a real risk and that's just the first reason why we think wealth managers will do this.
The other reason is wealth management firms, if you want to understand what their offerings are going to look like, all you need to do is look at what family offices do today. Over the last three decades, there's been a constant migration of these services down, albeit in a form that's useful for high net worth clients, that's gone from the family office down to the wealth manager, and today it is endemic to family offices to deal with cyber. There are already a handful of very large firms this industry has already, beginning to offer these services, so this is clearly coming. The question is not weather, but when, it's going to be widespread.
The third reason, which is why this is such in the wealth manager's self-interest, is that as cybercrime gets bigger and bigger, and today it's a $10.5 trillion industry. Cybercrime is bigger than all the sale of illegal drugs worldwide combined, and it's growing at a ferocious rate. As more and more clients get hacked, well, who do you think they're going to turn to, to get it fixed?
That brings you to the fourth reason. The worst possible time to help someone with cyber risk is after they've been hacked. We call that the black hole of time. It can take you hundreds of hours of unpaid work. In the meantime, the client's not very happy. For these four reasons, we think in the not too distant future, you're going to see wealth managers making this standard part of their offering.
Swift: Wow. I know there's much more in the paper. Will that paper be available soon?
Hurley: Yes, it'll be on our website as of tomorrow, March 15th at 3:15 Eastern. The embargo is lifted. Our website is DPriPro.com. And you can download a free copy if you'd like.
Swift: Mark Hurley, thank you for being here.
All right, we're back Hot & Happening at T3. I'm joined by John O'Connell of The Oasis Group. And John, you have had a couple of exciting announcements while we've been here, so tell us what's hot.
John O'Connell: Oh my goodness. This has been such an amazing T3. This has been probably one of the best years for The Oasis Group here, and certainly one of the best years I think they've had in many years here at T3. Some of the announcements that we've had coming out, we announced two new case studies.
I had the pleasure of being on stage on Monday with the Trade PMR team, with Joel, and to talk about cybersecurity with Brian Edelman from FCI. That was a great event. Generated a lot of conversation, we've had some really great conversations. I think that advisors are beginning to pay a lot more attention to cyber, which has been really refreshing for this T3.
Today I'm going to have the pleasure of being on stage with CooksonPeirce, which is a client of The Oasis Group. We're going to talk about some of the data warehouse work that we've done with them. We're still seeing trends where advisors are talking about owning their data. That's been a big trend that we're seeing again here at T3 this year, and I think that's really encouraging as well. This has been a great conference.
Swift: You've been a part of the community for a while. Is there anything that stands out just about the experience being in exhibit hall or in the hallways?
O'Connell: I think the exhibit hall this year has been just fantastic. The traffic that you're seeing at each of the vendors booths, I think is very high and really high quality.
The emerging tech section, again, always a big hit at T3. I think this year we're seeing a lot of firms that we've never seen before, which is great. It just shows again that continued growth on advisor technology and options that advisors have to be successful. Seeing some of the new firms this year in T3 have been fantastic.
Swift: All right, John O'Connell, always good to see you.
O'Connell: Always great to see you, Marie. Thank you so much.
Swift: We're here with Hot & Happening at T3. I'm joined now by Craig Iskowitz from the Ezra Group. Hey, Craig.
Craig Iskowitz: Marie, it's a pleasure to be here with you at the T3 conference again. Bring it on. T3 conference, take two.
Swift: We have to let the audience in on the joke now. You and I just did a fabulous 10-minute segment on everything that you thought was Hot & Happening at T3, and the technology failed us, so here we are again. Take two. I'm going to start with the shirt that you're wearing. Tell us what we're looking at on your shirt.
Iskowitz: For those of you at home, I'm wearing a shirt with the face of Gavin Spitzner on it. Gavin was a very good friend of mine and a colleague as well as an industry icon. He worked at Prudential. He worked at Envestnet, then he launched his own career Wealth Consulting Partners as a consultant and worked for all the biggest names in the industry.
Unfortunately, he passed away at the age of 57, which is a year younger than me in January. We're all shocked. I just wanted him to be present at the conference one more time. This is the first T3 I've been with to without him, so I just wanted to think of some way to remind people, because you forget when someone's not around, you forget about them. I wanted to remind them that, hey Gavin, you should be here, but he's not, unfortunately.
Swift: We was a great contributor to our community. We also had a short tribute to Ken Golding and Greg Friedman, his longtime partner from Juncture, gave that tribute via video. We had a video tribute from Aaron Klein for Gavin Spitzner. We missed them and we wish their families well.
Let's move on to your session, Craig, you did a session. Would you just tell us what you talked about and who was with you?
Iskowitz: My session was about broker dealer technology, so that's something I run a company called Ezra Group, where it's strategic technology consultants.
Half our clients are broker dealers, RIAs, asset managers, TAMPs. The other half are all the fintech and wealthtech vendors. But we got a lot of questions about broker dealer technology from the broker dealers. They come to us for questions about how they should improve, how they can compare to their competitors, new products they should be working with, optimizing their platform.
I thought a session talking about those things would be great. Joel bought it. We had Larry Roth who is a partner at RLR Partners. He was also the former CEO of Advisor Group, former CEO of Cetera. He came at it from the C-suite angle, looking at it from more of a strategic point of view.
We had John Rajes from LPL Financial. He's SVP of Strategic Partnerships. He was also at UBS, Head of Digital Advice. He has a lot of experience working with broker dealer platforms and talking about specific ideas, concepts, lessons learned, best practices around the technology. I thought it was a very well attended conference panel, and a lot came out of it.
Swift: Some of the themes that sessions have emerged this year, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, of course, ChatGPT is on everybody's minds. What stood out this year to you?
Iskowitz: Every T3 conference usually has one theme going through it. Everyone seems to be talking about. Last year it was crypto, and this year it was AI.
I should take a look at the numbers. Almost more than half the panels talked about AI in some way. As technology consultants, we look at every product in the industry and want to know all about it. About five years ago, we started seeing firms with AI in their name. They bought the AI domain name and such, but they really weren't AI, it was just a marketing term. They were a rules engine or an algorithm. And it's not AI. I can tell because I've got a degree in computer science. I can ask the right questions and find out, are you really AI or not? Whereas most advisors can't, or most broker dealers don't have the staff necessarily to do that.
We try to weed them out. Now as AI technology is becoming more ubiquitous and easier to implement ChatGPT being one of them, the underlying GPT framework being one of the easiest platforms to implement or easier, we're seeing more firms actually delivering results with real AI. Firms like InterGen Data, Catchlight, and other firms are implementing GPT into their platforms like Orion announced they're using the GPT functions in their platform.
There's a firm called Pulse360 which is a meeting automation tool, which built on top of the GPT function to help advisors summarize text. We often see the chat GPT demo saying, tell me what an annuity is, and it spits out a block of text. Well, you also see the opposite. Give me a block of text about annuities and summarize it for a client. The Pulse360 is using it in the other direction. A lot of these tools are finding interesting ways to help advisors automate some of the things that are more of the time-consuming tasks.
Swift: You've written quite a bit about this. You have podcast episodes. Talk a little bit about your blog and your resource center.
Iskowitz: Oh, thanks Marie. We have a blog and a podcast, both called WealthTech Today. You can find it at WealthTechToday.com or at our website, EzraGroupLLC.com. We just talk about the industry. I talk to people I find interesting, whether they are like John Rajes from LPL or Aaron Klein from Riskalyze.
We bring on people from both sides of the aisle to just talk about tech, what's happening, what's the latest lessons learned, best practices, things you should look out for, advice. Think of it sort of as an MBA class on the technology of our industry.
Swift: You've been to a lot of these T3 conferences. We're now in number 19 as the 20th year, next year. Anything that you have on your radar that you might predict might be coming ahead for next year?
Iskowitz: Oh, what will next year bring? I don't know, if I knew that, I'd be a wealthy person. It's hard to say because you don't know what's going to happen between now and then.
I think advice engagement is going to be much more robust. We're seeing a lot more firms, vendors coming into the space, into that category. I manage the advice tech map with Michael Kitces, which is available on Kitces.com, and we saw advice engagement really growing this year. I think when more advisors see the benefits of these tools, next year you'll probably see even more of these engagement tools with more technology that might be adding in facial recognition and other AI. There's a lot going on in AI, more natural language processing where I can sit cross from a client and it can analyze them as they're talking and give me advice from what they're saying, in a real time fashion.
Anything to help advisors, give them more insights and more recommendations so they don't have to think as much about those things. They can really focus on serving their clients looking for new ways to deliver value to them.
Swift: Let's talk about the survey. The long awaited 2023 T3 Insight Information Software Survey. I think just about 4,000 advisors weighed in to share with us what was important to them, what they're thinking about, what they're using. Anything that stands out from looking at the survey?
Iskowitz: When that survey came out, I was diving in. The only thing I didn't like was they only put a half an hour on the schedule for Bob and Joel to talk about it. I wanted more time. In that half an hour, things that jumped out at me, the biggest gainers by category in terms of increase in utilization in the industry, tax planning up 11%, trading up 7%, social security analysis up 6%.
I sound like I'm reading the market report, but we're seeing these tools grow in usage and especially on the numbers one, three I just mentioned. Those are all in the specialized planning section of the Kitces / Ezra Group Map, and that section has exploded the last three years. And why? We've already got these financial planning tools like eMoney, MoneyGuidePro, RightCapital.
Advisors want more. They want to drill down into social security analysis, they want to drill down into tax planning, and the generic tools don't do enough. These specialized tools are cropping up to offer advisors ways to differentiate; or healthcare, or cash management. All these different tools, we're going to see more of those more drilling down and more slicing and dicing the financial planning function into specialized tools that can give a deeper, more robust experience.
Swift: That sounded like a prediction, we're going to say.
Iskowitz: Maybe it might be, Marie. I'm being very coy about that.
Swift: As we wrap up today, Craig, anything else you want to leave the mic?
Iskowitz: You have to be here. Next year, I think I heard a rumor it's going to be in Vegas, maybe.
Swift: Maybe. I know it's going to be the 20th anniversary, that's for sure.
Iskowitz: It's the big one, the 20th anniversary.
Swift: Thinking about what we can do to surprise Joel Bruckenstein for the big two zero.
Iskowitz: I just want to see more. There's not going to be a giant revolution in AI. Most things creep up on us slowly, they slowly become ubiquitous. That's what we're going to see with AI, if I can make another prediction on that. More firms are going to be building it into their technology, and it'll become second nature. Advisors are getting more and more used to seeing results on their screen that say, call this client next. Do this thing, next, do this test. Whether them having to come up with it, it's like the algorithm that's driving your life. Sometimes it's a good thing that it's telling you which clients to speak to first, because they're the ones in the most need. Or they're the prospect who is the most likely to convert.
That's going to give advisors more time, as I mentioned earlier, to service clients, don't have to think as much about what the next thing to do. The algorithms will give them the best course of action. That's probably what we see more of next year. More of the things we know and love, more of the tools we like will add this functionality to them.
I'm hoping that advisors spend less time building portfolios and more time engaging with clients and offering more holistic life coaching. That's another thing we saw in some surveys. I think the Fidelity survey mentioned that more investors want their advisors to give them more advice outside of investments, more life coaching, more behavioral coaching. If those numbers are true, that's a good thing and more advisors should start doing that. Don't spend so much time picking stocks and ETFs, more time delivering different kinds of advice to your clients.
Swift: All right. Craig Iskowitz, thank you for being here.
You are back with Hot & Happening at T3. I'm joined now by Jason Stipp and Thomas Aviles from Morningstar. Welcome gentlemen.
Jason Stipp: Good to be here. Thanks for having us.
Thomas Aviles: Yeah, happy to be here. This is so much fun.
Swift: Morningstar has been a great community participant at T3 for many, many years, and I know you had a couple of sessions here, so let's start with that.
Stipp: I'll let Thomas go into what he spoke about, but I think one of the big themes that we've been hearing here is personalization, that’s coming up in session after session. I think the important thing is, what does that actually mean? What does it mean to you? For us it means connecting the person to the portfolio in a variety of ways. Thomas, I'd love for you to talk about some of the ways you spoke about yesterday.
Aviles: It’s a really exciting time for the industry. I think a theme that you'll see in a lot of the panels that we saw was bringing more research and academic rigor to the advice process. That's always been there on the investment side. Understanding portfolios, understanding how they work, understanding the quality of investments.
Now we're bringing that to the people side, understanding what do people really care about. Not just labeling what they feel about, but actually measuring that and how can that help in terms of the investment outcomes that they're looking for and the things that they care about. Things like ESG, personalization, risk profiling, and that's the things that we're talking about at Morningstar. We're bringing that all together with a really research based approach. It's a fun time.
Swift: As you look at the exhibit hall and you think about all the other participants here, is there anything that stands out about the community or just the vibe?
Stipp: A lot of us are working on similar things, but they're also complimentary as well. We're trying to solve similar problems, but in different ways. What's interesting to me is, regulation is a big topic. It's heating up. Personalization is a big topic. Security is a big topic this year and how we're securing systems.
How are other people trying to solve the same problems we're trying to solve? Are there any new problems that people are trying to solve? Get a sense of what our competition is doing and what we're doing, how we're different, how they're different, who they're serving that's different than who we're serving.
I love it, because, as a product person, I get new ideas. I see what I'm up against, I understand gaps and I learn new things of problems that are being solved that, that maybe we hadn't contemplated before.
Aviles: Along those lines, I see a lot more collaboration over the years, amongst the different partners because I think we realize we're all trying to solve similar problems and we can't really do it alone.
In fact, many of the other vendor partners in this area use Morningstar data in some ways. We're always trying to find ways that we can help each other. It was interesting because we had a session yesterday and I looked around the room and I realized that like half of the people in the room are like my friends in some way.
We all hang out. We know each other, we support each other professionally. Even Jason and I, we were hanging out and playing some board games. We found some board game enthusiasts at the conference. Hoping that can be a tradition with T3, get maybe like a board game club going.
Stipp: A lot of us have worked together, and then we don't work together, and then we meet up again. It's a strong, big community, but it's kind of closer than you might expect.
Swift: As you said, there's sometimes overlap, but we're all working towards a greater cause, which is helping advisors do a better job, do their best work for their clients. You also have your own conference coming up, the Morningstar conference in Chicago. Anything about that?
Stipp: There's a lot of new things that we'll be showing off there. One of the things we're excited to share with everyone is we call it our investment planning experience. Just like Thomas was talking about, this is where within our software we're bringing together all the important things you need to know about your client, from their risk to their accounts, to their values preferences, to the goals that they have.
Then investment planning around that all in one system, so that you can really triangulate where they want to be and see the trade-offs that they need to make and help them lean in, be a part of the plan. When they do that, we also have studies that show outcomes are better. It's more likely to stick with a plan if it's your plan versus a plan that I gave to you.
We're excited about that. We're excited about other initiatives like direct indexing that we're bringing to the market, but also again, bringing the community together of advisors, of vendors, technology providers, and just having that free flow of ideas in Chicago in April. We're super excited about it.
Aviles: It’s going to be so much fun. If you really like insights and research, it's a great place, if you like a good sense of community. Even in these sessions here, every time I see people pulling out their phones and taking a picture of a slide, it's usually because there's some fascinating research. If you like that, Morningstar Investment Conference is a great place to go.
Swift: I will be there. I'm going to be live podcasting from the big platform. That's new and exciting this year, and I have a couple different segments up there. Then my team is, I don't know if you even know this, you guys, but we do the experiential learning center around social and digital communications. We'll be in the middle of the exhibit hall with the social digital hub. And we always love rubbing shoulders with the people who attend.
Stipp: We’ll look forward to seeing you there. Can't wait.
Swift: See you then.
Aviles: All right, thanks.
Jonny Swift: This is Jonny Swift and I have Erin Goss from Blue Chip Partners here with me. This is your first T3 conference. What do you think of the experience so far?
Erin Goss: It's amazing. There's so much to look at, so many people to talk to. I'll definitely be back. Let's just say that.
Jonny Swift: Any highlights or takeaways so far? Favorite session from yesterday?
Goss: I am very excited about all things AI. It's just this idea of making the information and data we already have, kind of work smarter for us, is very exciting. Blue Chip is in a fantastic spot, position for growth in the future. Our team has increased about 70-80% in the past three years. We have great resources to deploy. I'm spending a lot of time just figuring out how best we can work, how we can work smarter, not harder, and technology, AI, whatever it is that can help our advisors reduce the lower value add activities that they're doing to be able to have more time to focus on the client experience. There's so many of those ideas swirling around these halls. It's super exciting.
Jonny Swift: What type of technologies have allowed you to be more efficient or most contributed to Blue Chip's growth?
Goss: We are a very heavy CRM workflow shop, so we try not to recreate the wheel with our standard processes, reduce the back and forth the questions. Let's just build it in a workflow.
We collaborate a lot on teams, not only with each other, but with clients. We're kind of leaning into the Microsoft universe, so we're big collaborators on SharePoint and these types of things. Those are two of the primary ones. We did implement a tool last year from Broadridge called FI360. That was in response really to regulatory change, but it made our advisors, it reduced the friction in helping clients roll over their assets, that they wanted to do anyway. The work's going to get done, but it's allowing the advisors to be more effective at doing this. It probably lowers the frustration of the clients as well. We're not afraid to make those investments.
Jonny Swift: I know that last night was your first chance to get into the exhibit hall here. You were waiting all day to get in here. What was your first impression walking around the exhibit hall and all the different vendors?
Goss: Honestly, I was so amazed at just the setups that these booths have, it's just pretty intense. It's like a little concert for each one of these, coming in with their big boxes. There's just so much here. I don't know what the square footage of this room is, but there were a couple people that I talked to for probably 45 minutes and I didn't even move down an entire aisle. I can see why you need a couple days to work this effectively, and I have more to do.
Jonny Swift: All right. Well, Erin, thank you for joining us and we'll talk to you soon.
Goss: Thanks for having me.
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