Advisors Struggle With Their Technology — But They Want More

RIAs who called themselves tech-embracers had higher three-year compound annual growth rates in assets, clients, and revenue than peers who are not early adopters.


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Advisors say their firms lack the technology they need to do their jobs.

According to a new wealth technology survey by Orion Advisor Solutions, only one in ten advisors says their firm has the technology necessary to effectively compete. At the same time, the technology these advisors already have is underused.

Tech adoption for many top performing firms is linked to growth. Founder and CEO Eric Clarke noted during his keynote address opening Orion’s 2023 Ascent Conference on Tuesday that Orion found that there was a positive correlation between firms that have streamlined and integrated their technology tool kit and the firms’ total assets under management. According to Orion, advisors with 75 percent of their technology stack integrated have 30 percent more assets and are expected to grow faster than peers.

“Our survey confirmed that the majority of advisors who integrated their tech effectively were also growing more rapidly. The fact is that integration ultimately frees resources to be reallocated toward growth efforts,” Clarke said in a statement. Orion is one of the largest technology providers for wealth management.

Other financial institutions have noticed a similar trend. According to Fidelity’s 2022 RIA Benchmarking study, RIA firms that considered themselves ‘tech-embracers’ had higher three-year compound annual growth rates in assets, clients, and revenue when compared to those who didn’t identify as a tech embracer. Schwab’s 2022 RIA Benchmarking study also found that the top-performing firms — those that rank in the top 20 percent of Schwab’s firm performance index — had the highest adoption rate of digital tools like virtual meetings, e-signatures, and online platforms.

Orion’s most recent technology survey was conducted in January by Logica Research. It surveyed 202 advisors with an average age of 46 and a mean AUM of $394 million.

According to Orion’s survey, 60 percent of advisors feel they have most of the technology they need, but that on average advisors are only using 70 percent of the total capabilities of the tools their firm has available. One in ten advisors said they are using less than half of their tech tool kit. Even firms that have the technology they need don’t fully utilize it.

According to the survey, portfolio management (26 percent) and integration (22 percent) were the biggest pain points with technology adoption and 60 percent said that lack of time is the biggest barrier to tech use at their firm. Lack of personnel, lack of training, and integration problems were also listed as reasons why technology adoption is held back.

Penny Phillips, president and co-founder of Journey Strategic Wealth, a New Jersey-based RIA with more than $2.5 billion in AUM said on a panel at Ascent that advisors these days are expected to do everything from portfolio management and billing to financial planning and that because of this they really don’t have time to make use of technology even when adoption could help the company.

However, those that do take advantage of the full potential of their technology offerings saw benefits. Eighty-nine percent of those surveyed said that increasing their tech use improves operational efficiency, 76 percent said it delivers greater value to clients, and 50 percent said it increased growth through new client acquisitions.

Over the next three years, 67 percent of those surveyed are planning on leveraging tech for a more personalized and customized client experience, 46 percent are planning to use tech to meet higher client expectations, and 44 percent are planning on leveraging tech to personalize their clients’ asset management experience.

Nearly half of those surveyed (47 percent) said they expect to invest in technology this year. The highest number of respondents (36 percent) said that they planned on investing in client-facing technology in 2024. The next highest, 30 percent, said they planned on investing in financial planning technology this year; 29 percent said they planned to invest in tech for client engagement.

Lou Camacho, president of Stratos Wealth Enterprises, said during a panel featuring high-growth firms that before investing in technology, advisors need to first understand specific processes at their firms and talk with their departments about their pain points. “In some cases you’re going to find the technology has some shortcomings,” said Camacho.

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