[This article continues the Institute’s new interview series with virtual engagement leaders to examine and learn from their virtual event experiences. One upcoming event of particular interest is a Virtual Showcase of Advisor Tech being developed by Adam Holt, CEO of Asset-Map — an advisor software platform used to help visualize client households' financial situation and as an engagement experience for delivering financial guidance. 

Asset-Map’s AdviceTech.Live event on August 27, 2020, will cover a broad range of strategically important advisor topics, including advisor marketing tech, CRM solutions, financial planning tools, portfolio management enablers and practice multipliers. The virtual event is being developed as an advisor technology showcase so forward-thinking perspectives can be shared from peers and competitors in the space. The goal is to lift financial advisor awareness into the capabilities available to them right now and invite advisors’ questions that need to be answered for both today and tomorrow.

The broad range of speakers at the showcase will include: Craig Iskowitz, founder of Ezra Group; Brian McLaughlin, CEO of Redtail Technology; Robert Sofia, CEO of Snappy Kraken; Lisa Graham, director of eMoney; Adrian Johnstone, co-founder of Practifi; Steve Zuschin, EVP of LifeYield; Kevin Hughes, chief growth officer of Envestnet/MoneyGuide; and Corey Westphal, CEO of Mobile Assistant.

We reached out to Adam Holt, as FinTech CEO and former advisor, to explore his unique perspective and thinking behind creating the event. We are interested in how he specifically designed the virtual event to provide meaningful context and guidance for advisors. With a dizzying number of technology and business models now being explored, It is a major challenge for advisors to know where to focus change and how best to innovate their firms and processes to our new business operating and client engagement environment. There seems to be a clear, overriding need to encourage a focus on developing a defined, personalized tech strategy and taking immediate first steps towards its best implementation.]

Bill Hortz: Why are you using the term AdviceTech for your event versus other terms like FinTech?

Adam Holt: The word “FinTech” covers such a broad field and has become so overused. I am seeing credit card processing, global payments and social crowdfunding solutions pop up in the category and realized the term was getting too washed out for us. “AdviceTech” focuses on all the specific technology tools that professionals use to deliver financial advice in the modern age. Even narrowing it down to AdviceTech — which we think contains about 20 categories — has nearly 500 solutions already. To help clarify this important landscape, we will be releasing at the forum a public domain “map of the advisor tech market” that we call the AdviceTech Compass. We feel it will help advisors understand where these tools sit in context to each other. 

Hortz: How is your event structure different and more beneficial for advisor participants in contrast to some other financial technology events?

Holt: Well the first is that our event is a virtual one-day program, and second that it’s entirely live —meaning it does not rely on pre-recorded content. I know from experience that when you want to learn something, total immersion and live challenging discussions get your complete attention. It is the best way to get a massive increase in knowledge and insight, which becomes our big differentiator.

There is no question that previous in-person advisor tech events were expensive to attend, host and to sponsor. I think many tech company sponsors of these events are a bit leery of spending the tens of thousands of dollars it takes to be present, and the significant travel and time cost for advisors to learn in a typical physical conference.

Personally, I love the in-person events because it’s all about the people that I see, connect and learn from. But the pay-to-play status quo for sponsors who can outspend others is not necessarily promoting innovation and accessibility in our space. It allows the big players to out-spend on brand positioning which in turn overshadows the scrappy innovators. The bottom line is that making an event virtual, accessible, and with equal billing for all tech companies allows solutions to compete on their merit - not their marketing or budgets. It also allows us to not just spotlight the technology, but also include a wide range and diversity of business perspectives. 

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