Disrupted or Just Diverted?

By Jim Fitzpatrick
President, NICSA
On a recent business trip, as my flight was being diverted, I began to think that it felt much the same as our current journey as financial professionals. I’ve been in the business a long time, and I’ve been on many a “diverted” journey along the way, but non so dramatic as the shift in direction we all may be about to take in 2017.

Disruptors are here. And whether you’re a traditionalist or a millennial, embrace it we must. With current changes in the regulatory landscape, fee pressure on a number of fronts, and emerging technologies gaining relevance, disruptors are transforming the financial services industry.

DOL: The Great Disruptor
Make no mistake: DOL will impact your business, as its reach is far and wide. For some of us, it will be the biggest disruptor in our careers. From broker dealers to asset managers, from the front office to the back office, executives are leaning in to better understand the implications of the new rule.
As an industry, we’ve spent the past several months absorbing the vast amount of information out there on legal interpretations, exemptions, and business model implications. Now, it’s time to roll up the sleeves and get to work on real solutions and tangible strategies. It’s time to move forward and formalize our best ideas for implementation in order to meet the regulatory requirements while continuing to deliver the most impactful products along with a world class client experience.

Disruption is not a Dirty Word
The industry is already in the throes of weathering the disruption of low-cost indexing, robo-advisors, and fund aggregators. What the future looks like is anybody’s guess but it will likely include solutions for integrated risk models while leveraging Big Data solutions. With each of these themes come shifting business models and (potentially) costly and cumbersome operational adjustments; but each ushers in opportunities to better serve our clients.

Superior client service through speed, ease, and transparency is a mantra we can all welcome. That said, it is the responsibility of every executive committee member, every board member, and every decision maker in between to ensure that we achieve these goals responsibly and embrace new disruptor technologies as efficiently as possible.

Perhaps with better understanding, we will see that instead of being “disrupted,” perhaps we’re just being diverted. It may take longer, and we may have some unwanted stops along the way, but we’ll arrive at our destination all the same.

What We Can Learn
I am hopeful that NICSA members take the opportunity to attend the Strategic Leadership Forum in January. We’ll be taking a very deep dive into the impact of the DOL rule, and we’ll be covering other “disruptor” topics such as robo-advisory services, data analytics, and swing pricing. The agenda is shaping up to be one of our best.

Through collaborative dialogue, we can all better prepare our strategic approach for 2017 and beyond. I hope you join me in Hollywood, Florida for meaningful idea sharing, problem solving, and the advancement of leading practices for our changing industry. Click here to learn more and register for the 2017 Strategic Leadership Forum (SLF).

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