FintekNews is pleased to offer our weekly feature column 3 Questions. Each week, we feature a thought leader within a unique sector of fintech and ask them to answer just 3 questions for our audience in their vernacular. This week, we’d like to introduce you to Ron Carson, Founder & CEO of Carson Group. Headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska, Carson Group is a conglomerate of companies dedicated to serving financial advisors and investors by offering coaching, consulting and partnership solutions.
NAME: Ron Carson
TITLE: Founder & CEO
COMPANY: Carson Group
WEB ADDRESS: www.carsongroup.com
What does your firm do/offer within the fintech sector?
Carson Group offers a digital platform designed to offer clients a full range of services, from robo to human advisor. The platform includes an automated client dashboard and client-relationship management system. With this platform, clients can access their net worth, account balances, and performance data all from one dashboard. Our technology eliminates duplicate data entries, allowing us to simplify the onboarding process of a client. Additionally, we provide our clients with a “VOR” or Value of Relationship timeline, which includes any and all activity that might not show up in a performance report, but is still critical to the client-advisor relationship – such as the sale of a business or the analysis of expected Social Security benefits. With our new technology, we’re now able to demonstrate and expose the true value an advisor brings to the table and the alpha beyond investment management.
What do you believe the next major innovation in financial technology will be and why?
The next step in financial technology is going to be a move towards artificial intelligence. Recently, the CEO of Google said “It’ll be bigger than fire and water,” and I couldn’t agree more. The reason: the big data behind it. Artificial intelligence will enable advisors to provide a more personalized experience based on an individual client’s behavior because of the extensive information we’ll have at our fingertips. Think of a client walking into your office and you having the ability to spin up a fully customized financial plan with all their personal information in a single one-hour meeting? No more chasing down information via phone calls or extra discovery meetings. It will save advisors hours of time by automating many of the tedious processes that consume their day-to-day – allowing the advisor to focus on connecting with the client.
For those who plan to stand out, AI and big data present huge opportunities to not only set a new standard for providing personalized advice but, more importantly, demonstrate compelling value instantaneously. When clients understand that’s possible, they’ll expect it from every advisor, making it even more difficult for the rest to keep up.
What are the biggest problems facing the fintech industry in the future?
The accelerated rate of change in technology, rising consumer expectations, and integration are some of the most burning fintech challenges I see affecting every advisor today. If you look at the fintech landscape five years ago, you may have seen a dozen key players. Now, there are more than 18 fintech categories consisting of hundreds of vendors and solution providers for every facet of an advisor’s business. It’s made the future murky and complex for most, as they plan on how to incorporate tech with their business model and value proposition.
The ever-increasing expectations of the investing public is another major factor driving advisors to reinvent their offering. If a company like Amazon or Google entered financial services, a majority of advisors could become irrelevant overnight. In my discussions with advisors every day, I’m realizing that most are head-down, rearranging the furniture of their metaphorical house when, in fact, the roof is on fire and they just don’t know it. We get so consumed by the day-to-day operations of our firm, that we often don’t take the time to look beyond our profession and realize that consumer behavior is changing the way we run our businesses – because the way they make decisions and define value has also changed. The looming threat of technology is a lit match waiting to be dropped.
Advisors need to be able to provide Amazon-level simplicity Netflix-like content, giving clients an endless amount of value for a fraction of the cost. Hearing that may overwhelm some, but it should also be viewed as an opportunity. Yes, fintech has added a layer of complexity to our business, but advisors don’t need to go it alone. There are multiple strategic partners offering plug-and-play solutions to catapult your brand and your offering into a new stratosphere.
The rise of fintech as a major category has also created integration headaches for advisors looking to create a single, consolidated offering. You can’t seem to build a comprehensive wealth management firm without having 10 or more disparate systems trying to work together. In most cases, this attempt fails miserably, giving clients a confusing experience with multiple logins and explanations of where to go when. There’s a difference between having integrations and being integrated. Integrations are easy.
Firms don’t have any issue with finding CRMs or financial planning software or performance reporting tech that has open API capability. The real rarity is building all of this to integrate in one cohesive, simple, clean experience for the client. One login. One window to everything they need from their advisor. In 2018, this challenge will only become more frustrating for advisors, as more fintech players crowd the marketplace, raising a big question for advisors: what options or solution providers are capable of truly bringing all of these systems, processes, data, and software together? Those of us who can confidently answer this question are among the few who are best positioned for organic growth.
Ron Carson is Founder & CEO of Carson Group, a Barron’s Hall-of-Fame wealth advisor, New York Times bestselling author, regularly recognized by Forbes as one of America’s top wealth advisors, and one of the most forward-thinking innovators in financial services. Throughout his 35-year career as an advisor, Ron has founded several companies serving the needs of both advisors and investors, while also founding The Dreamweaver Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing end-of-life wishes to impoverished seniors.