The FinTech Chemist: Wealth/Stack – An Event for the Modern, Progressive Advisor

Studying the properties and composition that make up the FinTech ecosystem

Welcome to this week’s industry analysis with the FinTech Chemist. While I may not be literally mixing solutions and preparing reagents, I am studying and testing out the latest and greatest in FinTech. The inaugural Wealth/Stack event was a scorcher, and not just because it was in Scottsdale, Arizona. Hundreds of financial advisors, technology vendors, and FinTech enthusiasts descended upon the Scottsdale Plaza Resort to learn about current technological disruptions in the industry. The theme of the conference was to bridge the gap between technology, investment management, and practice management – and boy did it deliver. Spearheaded by Josh Brown and the Ritholtz Wealth Management team, the conference covered timely and relevant topics, and everyone walked away with valuable insights.

Wealth/Stack put the topic of client experience under the microscope. In a riveting panel about creating the ultimate user experience, Tony Stich, COO of Advicent, said “Advisors aren’t technologists; they are still struggling just to get clients onboard. The UI/UX experience is critical to advisors that need to be efficient. Advisors need to provide digitally sexy experiences, or they’re going to lose out to robo platforms. Churn is ultimately driven by user experience, and at the end of the day, humans want to trust someone and robos have pushed the industry forward digitally, and made us better advisors. But when it comes to specific technology recommendations to build a better user experience? Advisors need to look at their value proposition.” 

In that same vein, many advisors admittedly have issues getting clients onboard efficiently. Andres Garcia-Amaya, Founder of Zoe Financial, explained how the industry constantly puts AUM on a pedestal. More importantly, he reminded the audience that you need to be paying attention to what the user wants, so the output is AUM. He exclaimed, “Without clients, there is no business! The onboarding experience needs to improve; if it’s a bad first impression, the client will move on.” 

It’s no surprise that technology has had a huge influence on RIAs. Steve Lockshin of AdvicePeriod declared, “Everything we do could and should be automated. Everything EXCEPT the client relationship. Investing is the part of the industry that sells – we just numb people into submission! But, Gen X and millennials want a different experience. They believe in transparency and have grown up in the digital world… All portfolio mistakes are human, and tech reduces human error and provides guidance, safety, utility, and advancement.” As advisor technology becomes savvier, it can provide better predictive behavior around clients, which means advisors have less to do so they can charge less and provide an impactful experience. The general consensus in the room was that being bionic is what will make you successful in this industry. 

Another highlight of the event was the Stack Showcase demo series. Ten cutting-edge FinTech firms exhibited promising technology: Advicent’s Guided Retirement demo and Dr. Daniel Crosby’s Tulip presentations were standouts. NaviPlan by Advicent emphasized that efficiency and usability can coexist with sophistication and accuracy in financial planning, illustrated by the data-driven smart assumptions powering the latest addition to the comprehensive NaviPlan platform. The core functionality of the platform utilizes APIs to help companies diversify themselves in the marketplace by using precise calculations to develop a range of user experiences. Dr. Crosby, who is a psychologist and behavioral finance expert, unveiled his new behavioral finance platform: Tulip. It’s the world’s first comprehensive behavioral finance planning platform that aims to help advisors educate their clients about their behavioral biases. The session was standing room only, proving that this new platform will be a gamechanger at the intersection of behavioral finance, technology, and practice management.

Wealth/Stack proved that you could breathe life into an industry where the events can all start to look the same. Let’s see how they can top the show in 2020! Now, onto my next scientific… I mean FinTech hypothesis adventure. And, as always, remember to take your vitamins!

Read the previous edition of The FinTech Chemist.