Five Things I Took Away from T3 Conference
1. It’s a #FinTech Show. While vendors typically line up and spend cash to get their solutions in front of invoice paying clients, in the case of the T3 (Technology Tools for Today) it’s to get in front of… other vendors. The conference attendance list which topped 600 appeared to be more than 2/3 vendors. While this might blow up every ROI analysis marketing teams create to justify tradeshow sponsorship fees, T3 serves a purpose. There were no less than a dozen “HUGE” technology announcements including arguably the biggest by eMoney about its emX platform (insert explosion here). The show enables vendors to network, plan integrations and strategize how best to take down the proverbial Goliaths in the room. First Rate took full advantage in announcing the release of the ARKON Performance Dashboard to streamline advisors workflow. While many of the announcements are for platforms that don’t even exist yet, don’t have live clients on them but are AMAZING! My advice is to take dreams, promo videos, future platforms and promises of anything not currently being used by real clients that pay real money with a grain of salt.
2. INTEGRATION, INTEGRATION, INTEGRATION. Aaron Guidotti (@Aguidotti) may have said it best:
The future of #RIA #Integration is dashboards inside of dashboards @aguidotti of @GrendelOnline#T32015 — Marshall Smith, CIPM (@1stRateMarshall) February 13, 2015
Integration is the hot topic and over-used word at the T3 conference. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great and serves advisors who want their systems to talk together and reduce redundant data entry and logins. However, what each person means by integration ranges widely. At its weakest, it means passing a file back and forth with data in it (most common use). At its strongest, it means rich, bi-directional, real time API calls that make one system feel like it does it all. This is the type of time consuming, expensive and intentional integration that really makes the advisors life better. Not all Integrations are the same. When someone tells you “Yes, we integrate!” the best response is “Tell me how”.
3. Winter is Coming: Data Security. If you don’t watch or read the Game of Thrones, you didn’t get this headline. Regardless, the coming train wreck for independent RIAs (Registered Investment Advisors) is data security. If you haven’t seen the headlines, the SEC and FINRA are staffing up big time to snoop around and find out how, when and where your data is not safe. Have client data on your IPAD that your children or grandchildren know the four digit passcode to and play candy crush on, watch out. Have client reports sitting in the trunk of your car under your sons Hockey equipment, watch out. Store data on any electronic device, computer, USB stick that isn’t encrypted, watch out. Don’t have your information security policy written down and audited each year, watch out. The winter is coming. Get your security policies in order before it’s too late. For more on this topic see Confronting In-House Cybersecurity Threats
4. Technology for Technology Sake vs Technology to Increase Client Engagement. Listening in on conversations between vendors and prospects… I mean other vendors… you get the feeling sometimes that we are in the business of creating cool technology. The explosion ridden promo video, more on point five, by eMoney CEO Edmond Walters focused on how “cool” and “awesome” and “robo-advisor butt kicking” the not yet released emX platform will be. This depiction and the general vibe of the conference got me wondering… Are we in business to make cool technology or to better provide financial guidance to end investors? The answer, I believe, is both. However, if a vendor is not able to communicate how the cool, slick and integrated technology does that, it’s just eye candy. While it certainly is vogue to have awesome looking technology, it will be the solutions that provide real value to the advisors in increasing client engagement and enabling them to spend more time planning for clients and less time prepping materials for them.
In five years you won’t call us a #CRM. It will be the hub that runs your business @aguidotti @GrendelOnline#T32015#RIA — Marshall Smith, CIPM (@1stRateMarshall) February 13, 2015
5. Use Explosions in Promo Videos. Simply, if you want to unveil a new technology, hire the Hollywood voiceover actor that was used in the Bourne (Identity, Supremacy and Ultimatum) movies and show explosions in rapid succession while vendor names on an alien looking Rubik’s cube spaceship come together amidst more explosions. Seriously, it was highly entertaining and got the audience excited.