Already, a quarter of U.S. online adults have an interest in using their mobile devices as a main channel for their personal financial life, said Neesha Hathi, senior vice president of Charles Schwab's Advisor Technology Solutions, at a technology trends panel Wednesday at Schwab's Impact conference.
That's a data point that could have big ramifications for the way advisors work with clients.
Below are a few other technology trends highlighted at the panel. (And stay tuned for some surprises from the newest Financial Planning Tech Survey, appearing in the December issue.)
1. The Cloud
One-third of registered investment advisory firms are using the cloud somehow, said Adam Moseley, a managing director of technology consulting for Schwab Advisor Services. And more are on the way, he added.
That could mean a few changes in the way advisors do business, he said, including the the way they think about data security. Is client data safer in a server in an advisor's office -- or in a big data center? "The fact remains that these data centers, while bigger targets, have bigger defenses," he argued.
But advisors will also need to take other precautions, he said. "Be thoughtful about your passwords," he cautioned. "They should be inconvenient."
Mobility isn't just a trend by itself, said Tim Heier, senior vice president at Schwab Technology Services. More importantly, he said, it's a catalyst for other trends.
In addition to cloud storage, he highlighted a growing consumer interest in nice, smart graphics, as well as voice-based security systems.
A shift to mobile connections has implications for productivity, he said, as meetings become more dynamic and advisors can be more responsive. Advisor websites may also diminish in importance, as clients shift to a mobile connection.
But, he cautioned, advisors need to be mindful of customer experience -- taking what's on a device and projecting it on a larger screen, for instance, rather than just passing around an iPad. "Nailing that -- the right tech, at the right time, for the experience -- is going to be critical," Heier said.
Once upon a time, applications use to be called "programs" -- they sat on your computer, and performed a single function, explained Brian Shenson, a Schwab vice president for advisor services technology. Over the next 10 years, applications will be more specialized, more cross-functional, and more likely to be located in the cloud, he said.
"Data no longer is owned by single system," he said. That has implications for advisors, who need to make sure all their systems are able to communicate with each other. And it highlights a pain point that advisors highlighted during the latest Financial Planning Tech Survey: Integration hurts.
Schwab, which obviously has a stake in the results, has found that clients report much higher satisfaction, greater time savings, and more positive business impact when using a CRM tool with workflow integration.