Once again, Michael Kitces and the Kitces Report have dubbed T3 as the best technology conference of its kind. The T3 Advisor Tech Conference in 2024 is being held January 22-25 in Las Vegas at the upscale and very classy Cosmopolitan Hotel and Resort. Kitces says this is more of a trade show than a traditional conference; it can be seen as a shopping and due diligence opportunity where the exhibit hall includes many solutions and new releases that advisors might decide to switch to.
The T3 Technology Conference is designed for independent and hybrid financial advisors, and also includes an Enterprise Track for financial services executives. The primary benefit of attending the conference is the opportunity to simply see “everything” that the advisor technology landscape has to offer, in one efficient trip. This makes the T3 conference especially appealing to independent advisors who are shopping for new technology solutions in a particular category or simply those that want to see what the latest-and-greatest is.
T3 IS CELEBRATING 20 YEARS OF BRINGING TECH INSIGHTS TO FINANCIAL ADVISORS AND FINANCIAL SERVICES INSTITUTIONS IN 2024
“In the early days of independent financial advisors, it was large enterprises (e.g., wirehouses and the like) that had all the dollars – and, therefore, all the technology budgets to build tools and solutions for advisors.,” Kitces says. “Those who operated independently usually had little choice but to manage with ‘generic’ tools that weren’t built for advisor needs, or to build their own technology solutions from scratch… and then, if it worked well, perhaps sell the solution to other financial advisors. This ‘homegrown’ technology path of advisors-turned-tech-developers still defines much of the Advisor Technology landscape today, including Redtail, Junxure, and Protracker CRMs; Orion and Tamarac for performance reporting; iRebal, tRx, TradeWarrior, and RedBlack for rebalancing software; and more.”
“As technology solutions began to emerge for financial advisors, though, a new problem arose: how to find and compare them, especially given that most advisor technology companies (now and particularly back then) simply couldn’t afford the exhibitor booths at traditional advisor conferences (where vendors selling $29/month software were expected to pay the same fees as trillion-dollar asset managers!?). The answer was a newsletter, and then a conference by advisor-technology consultants Joel Bruckenstein and David Drucker, which they dubbed “Technology Tools for Today” (T3).”
“And now,” Kitces continues, “2024 will mark the 20-year anniversary of the T3 Advisor Technology conference, still operating under the format that it originated with: to be less of a ‘conference’ (where advisors attend sessions for educational content) and more of a ‘trade show’ (where advisors come to see the latest wares in the exhibit hall) and attend sessions that are almost exclusively presented by the vendors/sponsors… who showcase their recent releases (what they’ve spent the past year building) and their roadmap (what they’re working on in the coming years), because that’s the whole point of a trade show!”
BEST WAY FOR ADVISORS TO APPROACH T3 IS AS A SHOPPING TRIP
“In that vein,” Kitces says, “the best way for advisors to approach the T3 conference is as a shopping trip – a chance to walk amongst the exhibit hall booths to either find a solution to fill a gap in their practices, scout out potential solutions they might want to consider adding (that they didn’t even know existed!?), or simply get a glimpse of whether the grass is really likely greener with some other vendor they might switch to (or not). Which can be done in a time-efficient manner by attending the T3 conference, as it’s the largest gathering of independent technology providers all in one place for advisors to ‘shop’ efficiently!”
REASONS FOR TECH VENDORS TO PARTICIPATE
For tech vendors that are deciding whether to participate, Kitces says it’s notable that even by ‘trade show’ standards, the T3 conference is still not a ‘huge’ buying audience for companies looking for new users (historically, as much as half of the ~1,000 attendees are fellow software vendors, media, and industry consultants). Though a parallel “T3 Enterprise” track that runs concurrently (specifically targeting the largest broker-dealer and RIA enterprise decision-makers) provides more substantive Enterprise sales opportunities.
In practice, Kitces says the primary ‘ROI’ for software vendors that exhibit at T3 is not measured in new users, but a chance to gain better visibility amongst industry ‘influencers’ (as T3 has historically been very well covered by industry media and independent consultants), and the potential to establish relationships with other tech vendors that might be future integration partners (or even future strategic acquirers!).
WHO SHOULD ATTEND