To be sure, tech across the entire wealth management landscape is advancing and changing.

Bruckenstein also mentioned that use of technology among custodians has been pushed ahead by the pandemic. “As recently as late last year, maybe 20% of major custodians offered digital account opening, but that’s more than doubled since then” with the need for remote meetings and operations.

He also pointed to “account aggregation” that’s become more of a reality with increased digital document-handling and the use of existing technology in different ways. These changes will distinguish firms that mine client communication preferences and save time by getting the most out of the reams of paperwork clients submit for review.

Automation Brings New Options
Beyond automation of client files and communications, some firms are test-driving technology like FP Alpha, an AI-driven comprehensive wealth management platform launched by Andrew Altfest in February 2020.

FP Alpha reads wills, trusts, tax returns and insurance policies, then applies insight from 40 subject-matter experts such as attorneys, accountants and insurance brokers to build recommendations and quantify their value to the prospect or client. The program also allows for ongoing monitoring of client financial situations, and can quickly create sophisticated deliverables with high-impact recommendations. “It completely changes advice opportunities,” Altfest said.

In addition, FP Alpha removes mundane client document-handling from advisors’ to-do lists. Using it leaves room for increased client engagement, boosts revenue and results in more closed prospects. With such technological options at hand – and clearly more necessary during COVID restrictions – advisors can scale more individualized recommendations for even more clients and reach wider audiences in a manageable way.

Altfest, who’s certain “we’re just scratching the surface so far” of using technology to revolutionize the wealth management business, points out that smart CRMs, AI and machine learning aren’t replacing advisors, they are empowering them to do more.

As Altfest and Bruckenstein suggest, the unexpected industry advances and realignments of 2020 make it clear that financial advisors who embrace technology are likely to have the best prognosis for business growth during the pandemic.

Jane Meacham is a veteran freelance financial services journalist who previously worked for Dow Jones & Co. and RiskMetrics Group (now part of MSCI Inc.) as an editor and research analyst.

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