Gordon Gekko's Phone and Advice Automation

Written by: George Cooper

“I’ve never seen a painting that captures the beauty of the ocean in a moment like this”, says Gordon Gekko into his then state-of-the-art mobile phone in one of the most famous moments from Wall Street.

Here’s the thing.

Wall Street came out in 1987.

Twenty years later Steve Jobs launched the original iPhone in 2007.

It took only twenty years to go from Gordon Gekko’s handheld chunky white phone, available only for the wealthy, to offering the masses a scrolling touch screen, maps, apps, music (and more) for $499.

And we all know what happened after that - there are now more smartphones than humans on the planet.

I bring up the point as I often wonder what the Gordon Gekko phones of today are.

What will improve so drastically over the coming years that it’s utterly unrecognizable? What technology are we laughing at today, in its nascent stages, that will change how we live and work in only a decade or two?

While prediction is a fool’s game, the obvious answer in the advisor world is (perhaps unfortunately) tech-driven automation.

Before you roll your eyes, this isn’t a standard ‘beware the robo-advisor-apolocalypse’ article. While there is, of course, a plethora of DIY investment, chatbot D2C companies, I don’t think they will threaten the model of most advisors for a good while.

What is happening, however, is baby steps toward real ‘process automation in the advice world.

I’m talking about: removing the duplicate entry of data across systems, streamlining onboarding processes, using technology to streamline annual reviews and improving compliance - that sort of thing. Dull, repetitive, yet essential tasks and the areas where human error is costly and consistency are key.

While this technology is very much in its infancy, from what I’m seeing, the potential is enormous.

With many advisors reporting that they spend more than a third of their work time handling compliance and admin, the opportunity to save on cost and improve efficiency is vast.

What today is a better fact find form with automatic data pushed into CRM could be a whole streamlined hybrid advice process in a decade or so.

While it’s right to be cautious about many aspects of automation, broadly speaking I think that these sorts of innovations are a good thing. At the end of the day, it will allow advisors to spend more time doing what no system can do; being there for clients.

One thing’s for sure, if this emerging space in Advice Tech is Gordon Gekko’s phone today, things will look very different in a decade or two!

Related: What If We Could Predict Client Behavior?