Published November 8, 2017
Perhaps the most valuable time spent away from the office is when we have the opportunity to learn and collaborate with others. Attending the Financial Times Top Advisors Forum in New York last month was just such an occasion. As an attendee this year I observed some of the industry’s most elite financial advisors (attendance is limited to those named in one of the FT’s rankings) gathered under one roof, joined to share ideas on every topic that impacts us collectively from compliance to the state of the markets. I had the opportunity to speak with the host of the day, James Gunnell, Head of Financial Times Live. He was extremely excited, as was I, about gathering a group of esteemed advisory firms together to take a moment and tune in to the pulse of the financial industry as a whole.
Political Rifts are Impacting the Financial Industry
We seem to pay attention to the impact of politics on the financial industry during presidential election cycles, but there was consensus among the first panel of economists who spoke about investing in a post-globalist world. The panelists all concurred that there are political rifts impacting our industry all over the world, and an overwhelming sentiment of the desire for change. Perhaps more at this time than at any other point in history, independent thinkers and contrarians are capturing the public vote and causing disruption to in the “politics as usual” rhetoric.
Examining the shifting geopolitical landscape also applied to the conversation about the markets themselves. There seemed to be the belief that the markets, while in a seemingly never-ending rally, will continue to rise. There are no indicators that a drop will occur anytime soon, although they all agreed it would happen one day. While different signals may indicate a strategic course of action to protect portfolios, there will always be a level of uncertainty.
Later in the day the animated Larry Kudlow spoke about our current environment. He indicated that he has been working with President Trump on the proposed tax plans. He expressed his disappointment, echoed by others at the forum, that the tax plans had not been introduced right out the gate with the Trump Administration. Kudlow thinks these tax policies will be this president’s legacy, and he would like to see it pass quickly to help stimulate the economy and boost growth as well as productivity.
What does the Future Hold for Financial Advisors?
As any advisor or financial professional knows, these forums are opportunities to network and collaborate. The networking discussion over lunch was intriguing as we talked about the landscape of succession planning, the lack of junior advisors in the industry and the rise of the digital advice platforms. Coincidentally, the afternoon sessions aligned with a few of those topics, concerning the “bionic advisor” and what machine learning and automation mean for the future. Discussion around these sessions was heated as the advisors debated concerning the need to add value beyond the traditional means in order to stay relevant. What will it take to remain competitive? As technology continues to drive our industry forward, no robot or automated investment platform can ever replace the human element in an advisory business. Instead of hesitating, we should embrace technology and consider it a valuable partner in providing a convenient, accessible user experience.
This top advisor forum was an excellent reminder that we are all in this industry with the same goal- to help clients reach the retirement goals of their dreams. The sharing of concerns, ideas and solutions was absolutely the greatest benefit of attending.
For more information on this and other Financial Times events, visit https://live.ft.com/.