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Keeping up with the financial services professional technology sector is no easy task, and one could say the same for tech companies trying to adapt to the changing landscape of the financial planning profession. Advisors are evolving, and they readily acknowledge that they are struggling to stay ahead of the technology knowledge curve. In the largest survey of its type in the industry, with over 5,500 responses, Bob Veres (www.BobVeres.com) and Joel Bruckenstein (www.JoelBruckenstein.com) shed new light on the market share of most software applications used by financial advisors as well as their satisfaction with these products. This year’s survey was sponsored by Orion Advisor Services and Morningstar, Inc.
Most Valuable Tool: Respondents overwhelmingly (52.29%) cited CRM software as their most valuable software tool, followed by financial planning software (22.90%) and portfolio management software (12.38%). The authors view this as a positive industry trend.
Top finding: Over 85% of respondents think the CFP Board should be granting CE credit for Technology. Of those surveyed, over 85% believe that the CFP Board should grant continuing education credit for technology, as they do for other core competencies. Many advisors are moving from investment-centric value propositions (relying primarily on portfolio management and investment data tools) to planning-centric (relying primarily on a different set of software), while others are making a further evolution toward service-centric, where increasingly sophisticated CRM may be the heart of the business.
According to Bob Veres, co-producer of the survey: “This indicates a profession that has migrated away from an investment return focus (portfolio management software) to one focused on client service (CRM software).”
Joel Bruckenstein, the survey’s other co-producer says: “Younger planners were much more likely than older advisors to cite financial planning software as their most valuable tool. 33.79% of advisors in our youngest cohort cited financial planning as most valuable vs. 16.64% in our oldest cohort.”
PURPOSE OF THE SURVEY
Each year, different options, deeper integrations, new entrants and custodial adaptations create a dynamic marketplace. The third annual T3/Inside Information Software Survey is an attempt to provide a snapshot of the state of the industry. Once again, it serves a dual function: first, to help advisory firms evaluate their options. In an effort to be more comprehensive, the producers expanded the survey to include 20 different industry categories. Any potential buyer or user of advisor technology is likely to get an education simply by being exposed to the more than 500 tools and resources rated, categorized or reader-added in the course of the survey.
Once again, the survey collected user satisfaction ratings, so advisory firms would be able to see how satisfied existing users were with each software pro- gram they may be using. And in some categories, the survey producers broke down the market share information more finely, according to years in the business, business model and size of the firm, so that readers could see which programs are most popular with firms and advisors who look like them.