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Is the Future for Advisors Really a Step Back?

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We’ve all become accustomed to hearing about the “next big thing.” For the past few years in the advisory space, the conversation surrounding the “next big thing” has been centered on two major topics: technology and millennials.

However, at In|Vest 2018, held in New York City, it became obvious that much of the industry has taken a step back from these two themes and settled into a new normal. While robo platforms and AI may have seemed like the holy grail of advisor solutions a few years ago, many in the industry seem to have accepted the idea that human advisors will never become obsolete. Likewise, conversations around how to recapture the attention of baby boomers and cater to their needs trumped discussion of marketing to millennials.

Are we taking a step back, or is a realistic picture of the future coming into clearer focus? Read on for some of the perspectives heard at In|Vest 2018 and how we may see these two key themes develop.

1. Turning toward hybrid. In a discussion led by Financial Planning’s technology editor Suleman Din, panelists debated what a digitally enabled firm looks like, the role of AI in the financial services industry and what advisors need to do to stay competitive. Client Angela Pecoraro, CEO of Advicent, weighed in on the value of fintech to businesses and how it can help advisors maintain a competitive edge.

Related: Advisors: Automation Doesn’t Have a Place in Your Marketing Efforts

Likewise, client Matt Brinker of United Capital contributed to the conversation in his session the following day, which touched on the makings of a destination RIA. He shared that fintech tools should be used in order to help advisors better serve their clients (source: Financial Planning) and outlined United Capital’s vision of the “bionic advisor.” Ultimately, the hybrid trend is making waves as firms realize the benefits of incorporating both technology and human advice into their businesses.

2. The rise of the baby boomers. Millennials have continued to enter the workforce in droves, and they’re coming into wealth as they climb the ladder. Advisors have taken notice, and lately, conversations have centered around attracting millennial clients to advisor practices. However, in a panel moderated by Sebastian Dovey, panelists agreed that the spotlight needs to shift to the baby boomers, and it needs to happen soon. Of the 75 million baby boomers in the U.S., it’s estimated that 40 percent won’t be ready for retirement, according to Renee Brown of TIAA.

Brinker echoed this sentiment, noting that boomers are the fastest growing consumers of mobile devices, and that firms should focus on making it easier for boomers to access their advisors on their phone, on their time and at their demand. He added that developing technology for baby boomers is the next step, as this will help to bridge the gap between baby boomers and their children.

Only time will tell how these themes will evolve into practical applications in the financial services industry. But one thing’s certain: These themes will continue to dominate conversations for years to come. For more highlights from In|Vest, check out the conference hashtag: #InVest2018.

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