It's ironic that this issue focuses on one of our biggest features of the year: our annual Tech Survey. The timing was especially notable to me because it coincided with Financial Planning facing perhaps its biggest technology challenge in its history.
Thankfully, the staff of FP was spared from tragedy amid the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. But our office building in New York - a few hundred feet from New York Harbor in lower Manhattan - incurred heavy damage, as did much of the immediate neighborhood. The tidal surge brought waves of water into the lobby, flooding elevator shafts, ruining electrical systems - and promptly evicting virtually every nearby resident until extensive repairs are made. It is tempting to say the water levels were unprecedented, but I fatefully recall of one of the little reminders of old New York I love to point out when I show visitors around the neighborhood: blue-stenciled sidewalk inscriptions that say, "1609 Waterline."
Nature is not to be stopped. Extraordinarily, neither is the pace of the technological revolution that has come to define our lives. Without the latest advances in technology, we might have had to change the date on the cover of this issue to January from December. Yet from kitchen tables occasionally shared with curious children, we relied on laptops, smartphones, online setups called virtual machines and shared online files in the cloud to do the work we normally do from the office.
The confluence of that arrangement and our Tech Survey, as well as the trend of advisors spending much more time out of their offices to meet with clients, was not lost on me. Planners increasingly rely now on tablets and cloud software to make highly developed presentations far from the comforts of their own offices. Your office might be a great place to do business, but a diminishing group of advisors want it to be the only place they can do business. Indeed, we were surprised by what our Tech Survey found as far as advisor attitudes on tech spending and return on investment.
From mobile devices to social media, software platforms to advisory platforms, what are the right technology choices for you and your firm? Learn from your peers: The collective view of your colleagues can be found online.
I've already learned from them - an office environment may be more efficient and collaborative, but sometimes a laptop, the Internet and cloud software are impressive substitutes.