Hortz: How did you design this virtual event to maximize practical education and solutions needed by advisors right now?

Holt: Most advisors actively at work do not have time to attend the traditional, multiple-day in-person event to explore potential technology solutions. In response, I said to myself, in any given day I only have five and a half hours of attention span. So, I committed to getting the most relevant content into those five and a half hours with all U.S. time zones in mind. My goal focused on “How do I pack the most critical value about the advice technology space into that time frame?” 

In deciding on the showcase content and looking at the challenge advisors have in choosing what technology to focus on, I think it is critical to always consider the end consumer first. In our case our customers are financial advisors who continuously share that they are “trying to figure out what tech they need.” It is a daunting process — not unlike an investor approaching financial planning.

Choosing the right tech is a long-term decision — it is complex and there is a high-cost of being wrong. We have seen how legacy decisions can impact a firm for years and hold back innovation, while the right decisions that match the firm’s personality and a strategically needed capability can bestow competitive leadership and strong client engagement.

The key at this event is to educate advisors to make those decisions and get rid of all the smoke by putting all the tech leaders — both larger established firms and younger FinTech companies — on the same level-playing field, not to pitch, but rather share and debate. We are moderating the discussions to providing us current insights and on where these leaders are “taking us” in the next five years.

Hortz: How did you choose the specific topics of the key panels your event is organized around?

Holt: That answer is revealed by Asset-Map’s approach to the problem advisors have choosing technology today. Just like financial decisions in a household, having the opportunity to visualize the problem really helps with communication of the solutions. That was why we built the “map of the advice-tech market” we discussed before. We called it a compass because it is intended to provide direction (it also resembles a compass visually).

When we had to consider all of the different types of advisor/client facing technologies that were available to advisors today, looking at the Compass, themes popped out visually. One was that most advisors have what we considered a “core technology stack” including financial planning, CRM and Portfolio Management. We also recognized that many advisors chose to use technology to solve different problems including document management, risk and allocation management, marketing automation, specialty planning applications, calculators and a whole host of different categories. The theme that popped out, because of looking at this visually, was that clearly tools were either geared for a customer engagement experience or for a practice management experience.

It was clear that discussions needed to be organized by how technology was used and how it impacted the business of delivering advice. It turns out that decisions on technology tools are really about how they return on investment. They either impact time or revenue gains and what matters most is whether its adoption can actually deliver on the original value proposition. So, the Compass helps us identify which tools are critical, as well as where they deliver value in the overall technology stack. Once we can identify this, then it is important for us to know who the major players in this category of solution are. The speakers and content were chosen to enable an advisor to explore those solutions without bias to size, marketing, rating, or how good the tech vendors’ website is.

So the real intent of AdviceTech.LIVE was to create an environment where the leaders of some of the most prolific tools used by advisors, would help them understand where they are taking not only their specific product set, but effectively where they are taking advice delivery itself. Think about it this way: an advisor who purchases a technology is likely to stay in that technology for seven or so years, which means that their advice delivery customer experience will be dictated by how that platform evolves and innovates. We think that this decision should be intentional and not haphazard. This event is going to create a unique environment for creating awareness and also validating where an advisor wants to take their practice.