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2012 T3 Technology Tools for Today Conference 2012 T3 Technology Tools for Today Conference

The seventh annual Technology Tools for Today conference took place Feb. 16-18, 2012, at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas. Here are some of highlights from the show.


Photos and text from Marie Swift.

“While each of the past seven conferences provided great insights on technology and practice management tools for advisors at that point in time, this was the best one yet,” according to marketing expert Marie Swift. “The conference has always felt like a close-knit community of people dedicated to advancing the profession. But at this year’s gathering of 575 professionals – the largest attendance yet – the community really felt to me as if it had gelled.”

The 70-plus sponsors in the exhibit hall were constantly talking with one another and some advisors attending, such as Louis P. Stanasolovich of Legend Financial, pictured here in an interview with Swift, spent their entire time in the exhibit hall learning about the latest and greatest technology solutions on display. “Sure the sessions looked great,” Stanasolovich said. “But I have decided to use my time in the exhibit hall instead. There are just so many great solutions here and I doubt I’ll be able to make it to all the booths and see all the demos I want to by the time the hall closes tomorrow.”

Since its inception in 2006, the annual Technology Tools for Today Conference (T3) has been the only annual conference devoted exclusively to the technology and practice management needs of independent financial advisors.


Co-chaired by the experienced team of Joel Bruckenstein and David Drucker, both of whom are CFPs, the T3 conference brings together the nation’s leading technologists, advisors, consultants and technology vendors to discuss technology developments that impact financial advisors..

According to Dave Drucker, co-chair of the T3 Conference, "This was easily our best conference yet. Attendance came in at an all-time high of 575 attendees and we had our usual 70+ sponsors there to give attendees a well-rounded view of state-of-the-art advisor technology.


Further, the T3 conference is now the launching pad for major announcements from the tech community, like the Envestnet-Tamarac deal announced last week at T3. Also, we're now getting press coverage from just about every major press outlet serving the financial planning industry. We've come a long way.”


Scott Wenger, Editor-in-Chief, Financial Planning magazine, interviewed executives from Tamarac and Envestnet for AdvisorTV. See that video interview here.


Pictured here: Mike Apker of Envestnet, Matt Springer of Tamarac and Scott Wenger of Financial Planning

But Envestnet and Tamarac were not the only technology solutions providers to make announcements at the T3 Conference. TrustFort and AssetBook announced a strategic partnership.


Pictured here: Atindra Barua from TrustFort, Ken Park and Rob Major from AssetBook

Cornerstone Revolutions, makers of PowerInvestmentTools for Advisors, announced an exclusive strategic partnership with MacroRisk Analytics.


Pictured here: Mike Phillips of MacroRisk Analytics and Mary Hepler from Cornerstone Revolutions

Technology innovators MoneyGuidePro and Redtail Technology provided free conference passes for 25 students from Texas Tech University and the University of Texas at Dallas to attend the T3 conference. Students attended educational sessions, networked with industry veterans, and visited the exhibit hall to review products and services provided by the 70+ sponsors who supporting the event.


“What MoneyGuidePro and Redtail Technologies have done is a huge gift for us,” said Deena B. Katz, CFP, Associate Professor in the Division of Personal Financial Planning at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. Katz, who is also chairwoman of wealth management firm Evensky & Katz and a columnist for Financial Planning, is in charge of internships, jobs and outreach to the advisor communities at Texas Tech.br>

“We are committed to helping our students find the jobs they are best suited for and with the help of Redtail and MoneyGuidePro we are accomplishing our mission.” Katz continued with an appropriate analogy: “You know it takes an ‘old doctor and a young physician’ to give the best patient care. Well, that’s what is happening in our industry. Many veteran advisors have the client relationships, but do not necessarily have the cutting edge technology and skills. So the idea is to hire the young people who know how to use the technology so advisors can do better business more efficiently.”


Pictured: Beverly Johnson, a Doctoral Student in the financial planning program at Texas Tech, talking about her experience at the conference and how happy she was to be a part of the T3 community.

MoneyGuidePro has supported T3 from the initial conference seven years ago. They were attracted to the idea that the conference was specifically focused on technology. “It has grown to be the premier technology conference in our industry. It’s a great place for business for us,” said Chadwick Blythe, vice president of sales. “We love the T3 conference because we can show to the industry who we are and what we do. We also find new integration partners at the conference. It provides opportunities we can’t find anywhere else. This is not done altruistically; it’s an investment into the industry, which is an investment into our firm. Everybody wins!”


In this photo: MoneyGuidePro founder Bob Curtis talks with Financial Planning’s Scott Wenger about MoneyGuidePro: G3 and recent financial planning software developments.

“I thought all of the general sessions were well done,” said conference co-chair Joel Bruckenstein. “Jon Patullo from TD Ameritrade gave excellent guidance on how to select the right technologies for your practice. Cameron Sheehan of Tamarac debunked a lot of the myths about integration and demonstrated what meaningful integration really is. Black Diamond hosted an advisor panel which discussed, among other things, the challenges of changing providers as well as the benefits if it is done correctly. Tim Welsh of Nexus Strategy and Dan Skiles of Shareholders Service Group discussed how firms can streamline their workflows and leverage new technologies.”


Pictured here: Jon Patullo talking with David Drucker

“In perhaps my favorite session,” continued Bruckenstein, “Ed O’Brien, Al Lee and Stephen Barwiowski of Fidelity took a step back from the specialized technology that advisors use to talk more broadly about technological innovations, nationwide and worldwide technology trends. They also discussed how these trends will impact advisors and their clients in the coming years.”

Other highlights: Al Lee and the Fidelity robot interacting with attendees in the exhibition hall; a pre-conference session on cloud computing sponsored by XTRAC with Bill Winterberg and Joel Bruckenstein presenting: the unveiling of MoneyGuidePro : G3, the next generation of this leading software application to a packed session; and a session entitled Competing Against Robo Advisors: Advice in a New World with Alex Murguia of InStream, Bill Winterberg of FPpad and John Prendergast of Blue Leaf.


Pictured here: Joel Bruckenstein interviewing the Fidelity Robot (powered by Al Lee, the “Mad Scientist” from Fidelity’s Applied Technology department)

But great sessions and a full exhibit hall were not the only reason people came to the T3 Conference in Dallas. In the evenings, small groups peeled off to renew friendships and discuss business opportunities. Here, Dave Drucker and Marie Swift escort a small group to dinner at an upscale bistro downtown. “We were surprised when a stretch Hummer pulled up to whisk us away to dinner,” Drucker said. “I thought Marie Swift had ordered a 10-seat passenger van but she is always full of surprises,” Drucker said.


Pictured here: David Lawrence of Global Practice Network, John Prendergast of Blue Leaf, Diane MacPhee of DMac Consulting, Bryan Hancock of Timberchase Financial, Karyn Davenport of Back Office Support Service, David and Geoffri Drucker of T3 Technology Tools for Today, Marie Swift of Impact Communications, Geoff Davey of FinaMetrica, Dan Joss of Fox, Joss and Yankee LLC

“One of the things that surprised me,” said Swift, “was how popular the conference video stations were. When my cameraman and I set up, we were really only looking to do a few select interviews that would run on the T3 website. We also wanted to capture a bunch of attendees and sponsors on video saying how great the conference was. The plan was and still is to produce a conference highlights reel to help those who missed this year's event (or those who had never attended) see what they were missing. But as people saw others sitting comfortably talking in front of the camera and big lights, the crowdsourcing began.


Texas Tech students came by and asked if they could record a video resume of sorts, calling out to planners who might need a younger, tech-savvy successor (here’s an example of a video one of the Texas Tech students did).


Advisors pulled my cameraman out into the lobby to do solo appearances in the atrium. Speakers and sponsors interviewed one another as the video camera rolled. We ended up with over 90 video clips — a total embarrassment of riches. So, we will be establishing the T3 Video Channel and are peddling as fast as we can to get the clips produced. This groundswell illustrates the fact that video has become the hot new communication medium and that people are conquering their fear of being on camera, in video clips that could be memorialized forever on the Internet.”


Pictured here: Steve Saenz from Impact Productions Group, helping attendees record Video Postcards

In the closing session – which is unique in and of itself due to the fact that Drucker and Bruckenstein actually sit at the front of the room and ask attendees what they’d like to see at next year’s conference – the duo promised to announce the dates and location for the T3 Conference 2013 soon.


“It will be somewhere on the West Coast,” Drucker said. “It will be in mid-February, just like this year, so block out that time on your calendars now. Follow us on Twitter or watch the T3 website for the official announcement.”


Also see: Top 10 Traits Firms Want From New Advisor Hires

Here's a compilation of images from this month's T3 Technology Tools for Today Conference in Dallas.

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