SAN ANTONIO -- While many advisors and firms have embraced technology, the industry still has some catch-up work to do.

Some innovations, such as allowing planners to work with clients in a more personal way, have been widely adopted. “You can tell an advisor he can do that paperwork in his client’s kitchen electronically,” said David Fetter, CEO of data solutions provider Fetter Logic, at the FSI OneVoice conference. “There’s real value in that.”

Other tech shifts have been slower to catch on.

“If you look at other industries, they are way ahead of what we do with data and how to drive better insights,” said Marc Butler, managing director & COO of Albridge, a Pershing affiliate and provider of data and performance reporting. “I think that is going to be really important for us over the next couple of years.”

And change is coming. Looking ahead, a group of panelists discussed which significant technology trends will play a role for planners.

1. Clients accessing data. “If you look at some of the research over the years, there has been this huge gap for a long time, where advisors don’t think clients need technology,” said Butler. “And the emergence of the client and consumerization of technology has driven a different outcome.”

A new push is coming from advisors whose clients are demanding portals or technology tools that allow them to access their own financial information, he explained. “A lot of investors want to have control over what they do, and a lot of it happens through a portal,” Butler said.

2. Cybersecurity. “A lot of these advisors are using [technology] services outside of the broker-dealer,” said Robert Sullivan, vice president of strategic solutions for Broadridge Financial Solutions, a provider of investor communications and technology for wealth management firms. “There is a whole cybersecurity threat that has emerged that I think is now becoming front and center.”

Butler explained that, because most advisors are heavily focused on finance and not on security, they should turn to outside help to protect their clients' information. “I do know that FINRA and the SEC are going to take a lot more interest in this, and, frankly, all of us should have a lot of interest in this as well,” he said. “I think this is something we need to start giving more thought to as an industry.”

3. Increased education. Brian McLaughlin, CEO of CRM provider RedTail Technology, criticizes the industry for not making technology education a priority at their conferences. “My suggestion for broker-dealers is that, when you do your event, move some of this information up at least toward the middle,” he said. “And the advisors are interested in this.”

One way advisors are being educated on technology is through videos and webinars. Butler discussed using platforms such as these to “at least scratch the surface” when it comes to education.

4. Integration of multiple devices. “I think unifying data and unifying workflow seamlessly across devices is where technology is heading,” said Fetter. “And we will get there woefully slowly as an industry, probably, but that is certainly where it is heading.”

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