It's no secret the pace of change in financial advisor technology is accelerating. These changes create more opportunities for investment advisors to improve the delivery of advice while also enhancing their own lives, and those of their clients.
What's clear today is that integration platforms are becoming the building blocks that software developers use to integrate systems and add functionality to enhance user experience. Open-access platforms that enable third parties to integrate their technology have helped make basic operating systems far more functional.
Think of Apple opening up its iOS operating system -- which led to hundreds of thousands of applications and turned a simple phone into so much more. Apple's App Store, and Google's Android platform, have fostered an entire industry of app developers.
As director for technology solutions at TD Ameritrade Institutional, it's my job to stay on top of technology trends and explore how we can make the most of them to benefit advisors and clients. To gain a front-row view of what the future holds, I recently attended the first-ever FinDEVr conference, organized by Finovate and held in San Francisco; it showcased dozens of cutting-edge tools, platforms and technology integrations that are driving the biggest innovations in financial services.
Several start-ups showcased how they could enhance cyber security and identity protection by building new applications on top-of-legacy payment systems.
These innovations include authenticating and verifying users by their heartbeats (through wearable technology), via fingerprints (through bio-scanning) or through ultrasonic sound waves that only the correct user's phone could recognize.
These technologies ultimately could solve one of the most vexing security issues by eliminating the need for passwords.
Other software providers focused on mobile access to financial services. A startup called Mifos, for instance, described its goal of helping deliver financial services to some 4.8 billion people living in parts of the world where access to banks is limited. Through the Mifos platform, mobile banking networks can be developed to reach communities that are cash-based or geographically isolated by building applications on top of legacy banking platforms.
Other debuts are more directly focused at the advisory space. An innovative firm called Trizic has created a low-cost, automated back office for advisors by integrating model-based portfolio management, portfolio rebalancing, client billing and online account-opening.
Trizic has created an online advisor platform on top of TD Ameritrade's Veo open access platform; RIAs can customize it and then offer to smaller accounts and next-generation investors, who might otherwise migrate to one of the many emerging online "robo advisors."
Change happens fast. Consider that the iPad made its debut just four short years ago: Now tablets are front and center for many firms as planners deliver advice and serve their clients.
Investors increasingly demand the ability to work with their advisors anywhere and everywhere.
Ultimately, I think investment advisors can use the same strategies that online players are employing to disrupt traditional wealth management firms -- but will be able to combine those with open-access technology and the human touch, allowing them to compete with and even beat the 'robo' competition.
Now that is technology innovation.
Chris Valleley is director of Technology Solutions for TD Ameritrade Institutional.
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