Ten years ago, when robo-advisors exploded onto the scene, their prediction was that they could do what financial advisors do at a fraction of the cost, and put the humans out of business. A decade later, though, the reality is that human financial advisors are still surviving and even thriving, increasingly leveraging “robo” tools and business process automation to make our own advisory firms more efficient. In fact, the irony is that the ongoing rise of technology in financial advisory firms isn’t putting financial advisors out of jobs; instead, it’s replacing back-office jobs with technology and actually elevating the role of the financial advisor within the firm in providing that proverbial “last mile” of service, support, and most importantly advice, to the end client.
At the same time, though, technology itself is taking on an increasingly central role in the advisory firm, making the business more reliant than ever on finding the best and right technology solution to help the firm achieve its own business goals. Which is no small feat, given what are now more than 300 independent advisor technology solutions tracked by Kitces Research across the AdvisorTech landscape, deployed across a wide range of industry channels (from RIAs to broker-dealers, insurance companies to bank and trust companies) and business models (from commissions to AUM fees to monthly subscriptions and other fee-for-service models).
Over the years, industry surveys have attempted to get a handle on trends in advisor technology adoption, exploring the most popular and well-rated solutions. Except most advisor technology surveys in the industry are either too small to form a sufficient sample, unwittingly biased towards some industry channels over others, or implemented via open survey links that anyone can take (which in turn are distributed by the technology vendors themselves and distort the results by whichever companies do the best job at turning out their own power users to participate).
In this context, we’re excited to announce the launch of the latest Kitces Research study, on Advisor Technology. Leveraging our own core strengths – a team of nerdy PhDs trained in research methods and survey methodology – this latest Kitces Research study will be unique in that there will be no open survey links distributed via this blog, social media, or industry technology vendors. Instead, participation in this latest Kitces Research study will be “by invitation only”, through a combination of emails, telephone calls, and even snail mail (yes, really!), in an attempt to gather together the most representative sampling of the true trends in advisor technology across the advisor ecosystem.
Ultimately, our goal is simply to answer the questions most relevant to financial advisors – from solo firms to large-scale enterprises – trying to make their own technology decisions, who want to understand what other firms are really using (or not), and what is actually well-rated amongst advisors (or not) – as well as to glean the trends of what’s becoming more and less popular, where should firms consider developing their own solutions instead of going with what’s available in the marketplace, where might venture capital and private equity firms deploy their own dollars to pursue the biggest opportunities for impact in the advisor marketplace, and what parts of the advisor technology stack are most ripe for innovation and prone to disruption.
In the meantime… please stay tuned for your potential invitation to participate in the Kitces Research study on Advisor Technology!