Financial Advisors Kick the Tires on AI

Firms buy client-facing tech products, hold off on AI, survey says.

Reviewed by: Michelle Lodge
Edited by: Michelle Lodge

Artificial intelligence is the newest shiny object offered to financial advisors, yet most certified financial planners aren’t ready to buy. 

“We don’t have it yet,” Ken Nuttall, chief investment officer of the New York-based financial advisory firm BlackDiamond Wealth, told about AI. “But I can see the day when I use it to track clients over 55 who want to invest in ETFs or find an international ETF that has solar power and no oil holdings.” 

Nuttall’s thinking is in line with a survey published last month by Orion Advisor Solutions, which is one of the main players in providing fintech to financial advisors. According to the Orion survey, only 18% plan to invest in AI-generated and machine learning programs over the next three years. Instead, the bulk of their dollars are going into fintech that improves personalized and customized client experience, reported 67%.  

Spending in tech programs for FA offices on client-facing technology, such as client portals and collaboration tools, remains strong and is expected to rise by 7% this year. Nearly half, 47% of those surveyed will invest more in investment time-saving technology in 2023, and of those who are already spending on tech, this year’s purchases will be up by 14%. 

In the six years since Nuttall has been at BlackDiamond, he noted that investments in software that streamlines everyday tasks has grown. 

“Yesterday [March 8], we did a rebalance on our main portfolio on 500 accounts,” said Nuttall. “I hit the button and the results were there in two minutes or so.”  

Without that fintech system, the same activity would have been a daylong-or-so process, added Nuttall, who quipped that he would have been “crying” working through the tedious process into the next day. Because of the system’s efficiency, Nuttall said BlackDiamond can rebalance those accounts quarterly instead of annually.   

BlackDiamond largely uses software products from Orion Advisor Tech, the same firm that carried out the survey. Orion offers a range of technology and accounting services digitally for bill-paying and trading, and is acquiring smaller software companies, including some that have sold products to BlackDiamond. 

The company also avails itself of robo advisor services through Charles Schwab, which recently bought TD Ameritrade.  

The survey’s results mimic Nuttall’s thinking in other ways.  

“Advisors feel that fully using their tech increases operational efficiency and helps them deliver better value for their clients,” noted the study. 


Follow Michelle Lodge on Twitter @lodgemich  

Michelle Lodge is a journalist who is a contributor to many sites: Fortune, Money, Time, Barron’s, Investopedia, and