ETF.com: What are some of the common frustrations you're hearing from advisors about using or integrating technology into their practice?
Shepherd: A lot of advisors who come to us say, "There's so much out there, I can't even see straight. I feel like even if I can pick the right technology solution for me today, it might be different or there might be a better solution just six months from now.” So there's a little bit of paralysis by analysis. The tech market is changing so much that it's hard for them to navigate.
ETF.com: What’s the fintech trend you're most excited about, or that you think will make the biggest difference moving forward?
Shepherd: There are a lot. Many of the new financial planning software coming to market is really intriguing, and I think it changes the game pretty significantly. Some even allow the client to do it themselves. That'll be interesting: the shift of client-driven capabilities, and how an advisor office balances the wants and needs of the clients, and what they can do versus what the advisor wants to drive.
ETF.com: I imagine a lot of advisors would see that as a threat, right? They might think, "If the client can do it themselves, what do they need me for?"
Shepherd: Yes, and it's tough, because if we're not open to that and meeting the needs of clients, then they're going to go there, for sure. So what's the perfect balance of engagement? It's going to be an interesting puzzle to solve in the future.
ETF.com: When you came onboard as president of the Carson Group, you made it your mission to increase the number of women working at the firm. However, there are still far too many people in the advisory industry who think diversity initiatives like yours add little concrete value. Could you speak to how greater gender parity has been an asset for your firm?
Shepherd: When I first came on board, I was the first female executive. What's important is, we have different perspectives as women. We look at things differently. Especially females in the financial services industry, we have so much empathy, we have so much care. We connect with people. This is a relationship business, and the fact that women are not in our profession as much is really sad.
So it's been a big effort that we've had here. We've done well with our leadership team and internally at Carson. Now we're focused on female advisors, as well as the offices we work with, and on making sure there are strong women in those offices to care for the clients that we serve.
We just launched the Carson Re-Invest Career Development Program, and that's really for people who have been not in the workplace for some time—at least a year. A lot of it is targeted towards moms who've stayed home and are now coming back to work.
They're really smart. They've had to balance a lot of balls in the air while they were at home, and so they have lots of skill sets. So we're really trying to attract those types of people and encourage them to reengage with us, as advisors, financial planners, in operations or marketing.
Contact Lara Crigger at [email protected]