“Advisor Tech” or the software that financial advisors use to run their firms is growing rapidly and keeping track of the options – let alone which ones might be best for your practice – is getting more difficult.
There’s even a famous “AdvisorTech Map” updated by the team at Kitces on a monthly basis. If it takes a map to navigate the options, you just might need an Advisor Tech trail guide as well. And therein lies the goal of this article, to provide some direction as you navigate the many options available to you for your Advisor Tech stack.
Where are you going?
Like most things in life, it provides significant clarity if you know your destination. Or have a vision for what you are trying to accomplish. It’s the same with your tech stack:
- Who do you serve?
- What problems are you solving for them?
- What tools do you need to solve those problems?
Getting clear on your niche and your own business goals will really help you decide on what tech you need and the categories of tech to look at.
Order of adoption
Next I would recommend reviewing page 25 of the latest Kitces advisortech report, especially Figure 2.5 Technology Adoption by Function and Provider Type (shown below):
If this is the adoption order of the majority of firms, this is a good stencil to start with to plan out your tech stack. Start with:
- Financial Planning
- Performance Reporting
- And so on…
Next, I would plan your monthly budget. It helps to have constraints when putting together a stack, so how much would you like to spend monthly on your stack?
Market share and Advisor Satisfaction
Now that you have your desired categories of tools and guardrails on a monthly budget, it’s time to start researching the options within those categories. Where I always start is the Kitces AdvisorTech directory.
You can search specific tools or categories and see the results of the most recent survey in a dynamic table where you can sort by Advisor Satisfaction Score, Integration Score, and Adoption Rate. You can also filter out secondary categories and enterprise tools:
This is a great place to learn about what other firms are using and how much they like what they’re using.
Are you an early adopter when it comes to new things? Or do you prefer to go with the masses? There are great tools in both camps – long-time players with significant market share, and brand-new tech with founders that are eager for you to try it out, offer feedback and help them grow!
I personally love trying new tech, but also want to make sure it works well with the rest of my stack. So, ask yourself? Where do you fall?
Join a community
If you want to go even deeper into advisortech and have real, live conversations with other financial advisors and firms about the tools they’re using, consider joining a community! There are both paid and free ones with incredible resources available:
Here’s a list of communities I’ve been collecting.
I’m a little biased to these communities because I started them, but check these out specifically:
- RIA Operators
- ProAdvisorSuite Utilizing the search bar at the top, you can drop in a tool like “Bento Engine” and see all the times it’s been mentioned in the community.
Attend demos – watch recordings
Once you have a list of tools, you’d like to learn more about, I’d recommend signing up for some demos – most Advisor Tech companies offer a demo on their website where you can schedule a call with a product expert.
You can also attend regularly held demos like the weekly ones scheduled by some vendors like Redtail and Wealthbox or attend some demos I’m hosting in my community.
Youtube is also a great way to research tech and watch recorded demos.
Here’s a new one – how about asking AI your Advisor Tech questions? Some options include:
- ChatGPT – for general questions
- ProAdvisorSuite.ai – ask questions about the 14 vendors participating
- KitcesGPT (not created by the Kitces team) – ask questions based on everything on the website and the 4 Kitces Reports – Advisor Tech, FP Process, Marketing, and Wellbeing
A word on Integrations
Integrations are big in the Advisor Tech world – APIs and custom integrations abound as tools try to connect to other tools and share their data. Something to consider as you put together your stack is how well the tools talk to each other.
But… People are still the best integrations. Well-trained and experienced CSAs, Ops managers, COOs are incredibly valuable to implementing and maintaining a solid Advisor Tech stack.
Lastly, if this still seems overwhelming…
Hire an Advisor Tech Trail Guide
There are many Advisor Tech consultants who specialize in exactly this – figuring out what you need, tech selection, and implementation. In many circumstances, I would seek one out before starting or undergoing a major transition in your tech stack.
What your clients think matters (bonus tip)
It’s easy to get carried away when putting an advisor tech stack together but don’t forget that at least some of the tools you will be using are going to be client facing so it’s crucial they provide a great user experience for your clients as well as you. Is your client facing tech easy for your clients to use? Does it give them a great experience? Does it help them understand what you are trying to communicate? One filter we like to use is the saying “the best tech is tech that enhances human connection and understanding”. In other words, does your tech enhance your value and relationship with your clients, or does it detract from it? The former is clearly the one to go with.
Selecting your Advisor Tech Stack can feel overwhelming but with the tips in this article and the mantra of bringing on tech slowly, you should be able to put together a tech stack that you love, helps you run your business, and is a great experience for your clients.
About the author: Joe Moss is the Co-Founder of ProAdvisorSuite which helps advisors save money, simplify tech selection, and stay ahead of the curve with introductions to some of the latest tech. He is also the former Operations Manager at Simplicity Ops, which helps firms turn their Redtail or Wealthbox CRM from a glorified rolodex into an operational hub.