Hollie Fagan could have cited any number of problems when I asked about the biggest worry for the planning industry. I didn’t expect this to be at the top of her list: “We’re not attracting talent.”

Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised. There are now more CFPs over 70 than under 30, according to the CFP Board, and the percentage of women hasn’t budged since 2007.

Fagan, head of BlackRock's dedicated RIA channel, said she sees young people turning their backs on careers in finance to seek jobs in the glamorous and potentially more lucrative tech sector. “It’s a real issue,” she told me during our conversation at TD Ameritrade’s LINC conference in January. “A lot of the talent is going to technology companies. The average 22-year-old doesn’t want to work on Wall Street.”

Hollie Fagan is head of BlackRock's dedicated RIA channel.

The planning industry needs to do a better job of attracting those 22-year-olds, Fagan says.

Here’s one solution: Make new advisor technology the selling point. Artificial intelligence and blockchain are just two exciting tools that will enhance planning services in the future, according to Alan Moore, a co-founder of XY Planning Network.

"As an industry, we’ve been stale and stagnant."--Alan Moore, XY Planning Network co-founder

“As an industry, we’ve been stale and stagnant,” Moore told me at LINC. “New advisors are going to have so much more and better technology — tech that current advisors don’t have access to and have not been able to implement into their practice.”

Firms that integrate or even design their own platforms and programs can attract talent who might otherwise have headed to the tech space. Here’s another plus: This creativity allows both green and experienced advisors to set up shop anywhere in the country, such as Moore, who is based in Bozeman, Montana.

In his story, “In resort towns, financial advisors find a way to flourish,” contributor James Thorne profiles planners who have built practices in exotic locations in Florida, Washington state and Colorado.

Friday Harbor in Washington state
Friday Harbor in Washington state James Thorne

When they are not scuba diving, fishing or skiing, they are using cloud-based management systems to work with clients. What’s more, practices in desirable locations will have a leg up on their competitors when it comes to attracting and keeping talent.

"AI will be quite helpful in face-to-face conversations." -- Tim Hockey, TD Ameritrade CEO

Some veteran planners tell me they worry that the rush to integrate new artificial intelligence tools could undermine the valuable relationships they’ve built over years of face-to-face meetings. But TD Ameritrade CEO Tim Hockey said he’s not worried.

“AI will be quite helpful in face-to-face conversations,” he said in an interview at LINC. “I don’t think it will be in any way unusual for an advisor, with a client in front of them, to ask a question of a digital advisor right there, because the world is a big place. Not everyone can know everything.”

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