Welcome to this special edition of FPPad Bits and Bytes, the Best Tech of 2014! On today’s broadcast, this is my last show of the year, meaning it’s time to review the top technology news from the last 12 months that matters to your business. That’s right, it’s time for my Best Tech of 2014 awards.
So get ready, FPPad Bits and Bytes begins now.
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This week’s episode is all about my picks for the Best Technology of 2014. This is my fifth year highlighting top technology for financial advisors and wealth managers, and as always, I break down award winners into three categories: the best back office technology, the best client-facing technology, and the best overall innovation of the year.
Best Back-Office Technology
So let’s begin with the Best Back-Office Technology award winner, which is a product or service that boosts the overall efficiency and productivity of your back office and makes a direct impact to your bottom line.
The Best Back-Office Technology of 2014 award goes to (drumroll please) the Motif Advisor Platform.
Unveiled at Finovate Spring 2014 where it won Best of Show, the Motif Advisor Platform is a solution you can use to build, manage and rebalance your own motifs on behalf of clients. You can combine up to 30 stocks and ETFs into your own custom motif and trade the entire strategy for one flat fee.
Pricing for the Motif Advisor Platform starts at $20 per month per customer, so the Motif Advisor Platform takes top honors this year because it helps you be much more efficient when managing custom portfolios AND it saves your clients money in transaction fees that might normally be charged for trading individual securities and ETFs.
Honorable mention in this category goes to Riskalyze, for its enterprise Compliance Cloud risk-monitoring solution, and the TD Ameritrade Institutional Veo Open Access Dashboard, consolidating dozens of technology integrations into one highly-functional web-based screen.
Best Client-Facing Technology
Next up is the award for the Best Client-Facing Technology. Now the winner in this category must significantly enhance the client-facing elements of your business and facilitate your interactions with clients. Clients benefit from improved personalized service as well as an increased level of convenience when using such technology.
I think all of you will agree that the growth of online investment services has really upped the ante when it comes to the client-facing elements of your technology. So it’s no surprise that the winner in this category is part of the online investment providers, but for me, one of them just barely edged out the others in taking top honors.
This year’s Best Client-Facing Technology award goes to (wait for it) Betterment Institutional.
But like I said, Betterment Institutional just barely edged out the other solutions built for advisors like Guide Financial, Jemstep Advisor Pro, Upside Advisor, Oranj, Wealth Access and several more. Why?
Because Betterment has a solid track record on the consumer side with over 50,000 customers, plus it has the advantage of having Steve Lockshin providing direction for the company based on his experience in the independent advisor market with Fortigent and AdvicePeriod.
Now don’t get me wrong, I think the other advisor-focused solutions have an equal shot at significant growth in this space, which didn’t make the award selection process any easier. But the good news for you is that you have a number of choices in this low-cost online investment category when you’re ready to add this offering to your business model.
Honorable mention here goes to Estate Assist for its online safe deposit box that helps clients manage their growing digital assets.
Innovation of the Year
And finally, the third category in my annual Best Technology of 2014 awards is the Innovation of the Year. This award goes to a product or service that introduces a new business practice or service experience to your business. This innovative tool should transform the way you interact with clients, enhance your overall efficiency, or even enable the delivery of new services not possible or practical in the past.
The award for Innovation of the year goes to (thank you) Engage, from Orion Advisor Services.
Out of all the new products we’ve seen in 2014, Engage is one of those solutions that I feel breaks new ground.
It begins with videos you create to communicate with clients, which you really should think about doing in 2015, but what Engage allows you to do it customize the video content you send to clients in an automated fashion.
Engage integrates performance data from Orion, graphic elements from MoneyGuidePro, and calendar scheduling from Redtail CRM, and embeds the information directly in your videos. So you only need to record one video, but Engage makes it seem like you created hundreds of videos, each with graphics and information specific to your clients.
It’s pretty cool stuff, and that’s a technical term, and a little ahead of its time, as a lot of you just aren’t ready to communicate with clients using video, which is why I feel Engage from Orion deserves to be recognized for its innovation this year.
Closing out this year’s award is an honorable mention to Gladstone Associates for their new streamlined business valuation toolkit that uses technology integrations to efficiently gather data about your business.
So what do you think about my choices for Best Tech of 2014? Did I make the right choices, or did I completely blow it?
You’ve got to let me know! Leave a comment below, send me a message on Twitter using @billwinterberg, or leave a comment on the FPPad YouTube channel.
Thank you so much for being a part of the FPPad community throughout 2014, and I wish you all the best in 2015!