ORLANDO, Fla. – Digital tools are changing the adviser industry, but not in the way many think.

Advisers have adopted technology long before robo advice entered the market, said Michael Kitces, partner and director of wealth management for Pinnacle Advisory Group, at the Pershing Insite 2016 conference. But these digital tools offer a new opportunity for advisers to focus, he added.

“As technology chipped away at the other models of how we execute we all converged in the same direction,” Kitces told the audience. “The way that this ultimately breaks out is we end up taking a fresh focus on niches.”

When it comes to technology many industry insiders believe that robos are here to help advisers and not take their jobs. Kitces believes these digital platforms will help advisers change the way they do those jobs.

“To me, one of the biggest transitions I think we’re going to see over the next 10 years is a passive rise in the adoption of niches,” said Kitces.

Read more: Who are the best clients for a niche practice?

Kitces went on to say that advisers generally have the same type of information listed on their website to classify what they do exactly. He said that websites across the industry state that advisers are experienced, have various credentials and provide holistic advice.

“We all say the same thing.”

Kitces believes that in the very near future advisers will not be limited by their location when it comes to acquiring new clients.

Advisers will use digital tools to hone their practice specialties, industry observer Michael Kitces told the audience at Pershing's Insite conference.
Advisers will use digital tools to hone their practice specialties, industry observer Michael Kitces told the audience at Pershing's Insite conference.

“You can go incredibly focused because you’re not constrained by geography anymore,” he said. “The technology is actually the enabler that makes it feasible to do niches the way you couldn’t before.”

While some clients do want the availability to have face-to-face client meetings with their adviser on a regular basis, Kitces believes that clients would want the opportunity to be a part of a firm with advisers who fit a specific niche.

Read more: Advisers ignore these trends at their peril

“When you’re in that niche and you’re the go-to person, client acquisition is drastically easier.”

Kitces said that he knows of examples in which it is already working. He said he is aware of an adviser in Alaska who carved out a niche of foreign service employees. While there aren’t many wealthy locals there, Kitces said this particular adviser was able to carve a niche out for himself that keeps him profitable.

“He spends 50% of his year fishing and he manages $120 million,” he said. “Not a bad practice for a solo.”

Kitces went on to say that another adviser he knows in the mid-west specializes in bass fisherman clients. While the audience laughed, he mentioned the prize money associated with bass fishing being in the million dollar range.

“Winners have endorsement deals rolling in which creates huge amounts of money move around that community,” he said. “It sounds kind of silly but he’s 37 years old and he manages over $110 million.”

“That’s a sweet practice.”

Andrew Pavia

Andrew Pavia

Andrew Pavia is the Assistant Managing Editor for Financial Planning, Bank Investment Consultant and On Wall Street.