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Looking Beyond Technology In a World Obsessed with AI

Despite the recent obsession with AI and how it has impacted financial service operations, differentiation in financial advising may be headed in another direction.

In stark contrast to the product-focused differentiation of the 60s, 70s, and 80s, we now see a strong focus on highlighting technology platforms and technology-based user experiences to attract clients to advisors and vice versa.

But, as Michael Kitces pointed out in a recent article, just as open architecture and broadened distribution reduced the reliance on product and offering-centric differentiation, the same seems to be playing out in fin-tech. With the cost and complexity required of modern platforms, “most of today’s advisor platforms are actually just a selection of third-party tools woven together.” And with a tech stack often provided by a short list of leading providers, Kitces argues that the new differentiator is “in a word: services.”

With ever-changing offerings, it’s not surprising that a recent Morningstar survey found that having an expert viewpoint to guide clients topped the list of reasons clients hire a financial advisor.

It should also not be surprising that the future winning differentiation strategy will be being able to communicate, streamline client education, and offer a service model that effortlessly guides clients to make each decision confidently. Easier to say than to execute, there is one thing that is clear. Delivering this strategy will depend most on an advisory firm's people, not just technology.

Christy Charise, Founder & CEO of Strategic Advisor

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