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Creating a better client experience is the highest priority for the nation's premier advisory firms: The 2019 Elite Advisor Poll

Firms’ biggest challenge? Advisor adoption of technology

JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Leaders of some of the nation’s largest advisory firms attending the 2019 Elite Advisor Summit held by BNY Mellon’s Pershing (“Pershing”) last month underscored how technology continues to be both a strategic business imperative and a primary business challenge.

In fact, implementing new technologies or solutions to meet client needs was viewed as the biggest challenge to business by 37 percent of advisory firm executives responding to the 2019 Elite Advisor Poll conducted at the Summit—second only to hiring and developing talent, which 41 percent of executives deemed to be their biggest challenge.

“As firms allocate a growing portion of their budgets to technology, a significant number of them are still challenged with reaping the desired returns from these investments,” said Christina Townsend, director of advisor platform strategy at BNY Mellon’s Pershing. “This reaffirms our belief that technology must be viewed within the broader context of business goals and the optimal client experience that firms are looking to deliver. In some cases, this means going back to the basics and getting advisors to leverage what’s already at their fingertips.”

An overwhelming majority (80 percent) of advisory firms are planning to increase investments in technology in 2019, according to the Elite Advisor Poll.

Almost half (45 percent) of respondents to the Poll cited creating a better client experience—online or otherwise—as the top goal for technology investments, followed by creating more capacity for advisors (29 percent).

Meanwhile, the biggest technology challenge, according to 44 percent of respondents, was adoption of technology by advisors, followed by identifying the right technology stack (28 percent).

“We realize that building the right technology framework is a challenge for many firms—especially as a growing number of them are looking to create a unique experience designed specifically for their optimal client,” continued Townsend. “That’s why we are expanding our team of technology consultants, who will work side-by-side with advisory firms, with the sole focus of helping clients achieve their digital transformation goals—regardless of whether they leverage Pershing technology, choose to integrate third-party solutions, or create their own experiences.”

In building an optimal client experience, a majority (62 percent) of respondents said they were funneling their technology investments toward integrations (customer relationship management, custodian, account opening, etc.), while slightly over a quarter (27 percent) said they were focusing on building client portals or websites. Further underscoring firms’ efforts to get the basics right, new technologies such as artificial intelligence are falling down the priority list, with less than one tenth (8 percent) of respondents indicating that they were focusing investments in this area.

The Elite Advisor Poll was conducted live via mobile phones during the 2019 Elite Advisor Summit, which took place March 11-13 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The poll gauged attendees’—which comprised the executives of some of the nation’s largest advisory firms—views and concerns around talent and technology. An average of 42 executives responded to the talent-related questions.

The Elite Advisor Summit, hosted by BNY Mellon’s Pershing, is a two-day, invitation-only event with some of the country’s most preeminent executives of RIAs and institutional firms. The event is designed to help advisory firms compete in today’s fast-changing environment and facilitate meaningful conversations, ideation and networking. The inaugural Elite Advisor Summit was held Feb. 28–March 2, 2017, in Aventura, Florida. This year’s Summit, which took place March 11-13 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, hosted 86 executives from the nation’s largest RIA firms, representing an average AUM of $9 billion and a median AUM of $1.8 billion.

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BNY Mellon’s Pershing
Liz Ozaist
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