Top 3 Standouts from the 2011 T3 Annual Conference

By James Carney, CEO ByAllAccounts on Friday, February 25th, 2011

Each year, industry professionals flock from all over for the T3 conference—the altar at which the marriage of technology and financial planning is honored in an annual renewal of vows.  With so many new innovations and changes in the marketplace occurring this past year, the 2011 conference was like a boiling pot for practice management and technological integration. The following are what I consider the top 3 standouts stirred from the conference:

  1. CRM takes the spotlight. The session on CRM was absolutely packed—full house—standing room only.  A constant stream of questions seemed to flow around the idea of increasing communication with the client (providing the right information to the right client at the right time). This topic’s high level of interest honed a consistent notion that advisors want a systematic way to touch their clients, and that which scales. A number of discussions also ensued addressing the issue in regards to workflow. It was hard not to notice a general air circulating the show of a clear understanding that CRM has moved far beyond a glorified contact management system. 

  2. Enter, iPad. The Apple iPad is spreading its wings across the consumer market, and—with over 50% of attendees at the conference reportedly being iPad owners—is already proving its potential as a useful tool for financial planning. While most advisors are currently using the iPad primarily as a personal tool, others have begun utilizing it as a visual buffer in client meetings. As new applications continue to emerge and evolve, we will see the iPad becoming more and more intertwined with the everyday activities of a financial advisor. 

  3. Operational efficiency is crucial. Drawing from many of the sessions, it seems that any way you look at it, increasing the level of client service requires greater operational efficiency. Many firms spoke about how they would like to increase their level of service to their clients, but had hit a barrier in being unable to afford the increase in overhead. I spoke with a number of advisors whose solution was to focus on increasing their AUM by expanding their relationships with existing clients, as opposed to adding new ones. Such advisors felt this alternative would have a sort of “two-bird, one-stone” effect, in A) allowing them to provide a much greater level of service to their clients, while at the same time, B) increasing their firm’s profitability. Given that the market will not bare an increase in the AUM fee percentage, it becomes very apparent how crucial operational efficiency is to the advisory firm. Bottom line: the greater the operational efficiency, the greater number of end clients can be supported within the same infrastructure. 

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