The word 'disruption' itself has become a business culture buzzword, one uniquely suited to the climate of the last ten years.

Why has that theme become so pronounced? Business has always been competitive and there have always been winners and losers. But today disruption happens faster than it ever has before, so fast that no one is secure. The most established companies in the world have seen their market shares diminished by emerging technologies and more efficient business models.

If companies are not innovating, they are dying, and instead of it taking decades, it is taking years. One of the industries that has been slowest to innovate is the financial planning industry. This multi billion dollar behemoth is losing touch with millennials, still has not recovered its reputation from the recession, and is in dire need of renovating its core competencies and its technology.

Entrepreneurs are increasingly stepping into this market with solutions ranging from robo advisors to expertise integration models. Younger generations, which lack a strong connection to the financial planning industry, are more open to outside the box alternatives.

Those alternatives are already taking shape. These are three disruptive trends to watch:

Trend 1: Asset Class Integration

One of the biggest shortcomings of the industry is its inability to comprehensively manage all assets, instead solely focusing on financial assets. For example, a traditional Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) is certified by the FEC and can consult about stocks and bonds, 401ks and IRAs, and other financial products and strategies. But if you own a home, a rental property, or manage any other kind of real estate asset, your RIA is not trained to maximize those assets' potential in your portfolio.

A new sector has formed to bridge that divide called Integrated Asset Management, which supplements an RIA's knowledge of real estate by joining them together with real estate experts under one roof.

Andrew Canter, CEO of Canter Companies, an Integrated Asset Management and real estate investment firm, explains, "Your traditional Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) is not a real estate expert, and that industry is not one that you can keep on top of without a lot of education and involvement. When is a good time to remodel? How do you know when to install solar, or when to charge more rent? It takes expertise in real estate to properly handle those decisions."

Canter and others are working to solve the disconnect between real estate and traditional financial planning by putting financial planners and real estate experts together in the same company. The concept is simple: have a real estate investment firm and a wealth management firm under one umbrella, allowing for a cross pollination of ideas and knowledge.

Trend 2: Balancing AI and Humans

The popular robo advisor startup Wealthfront has taken the investment industry by storm, raising $64 million in venture capital funding, and even more impressively, has over $2 billion in assets under management.

Deloitte discussed robo advisors in a report titled "2016 Wealth Management trends: Taking a closer look", and said, " Consumers who could not previously afford advice now have access to quality advice at a much lower price point while more affluent consumers, who already had advice, have started experimenting with this new advisory model and shifting some of their financial assets over."

Startups like Wealthfront are able to reduce fees by using AI and other automation, but its critics say when it comes to managing money, people want a human touch. There is certainly room for collaboration between AI and human experts, and younger generations may not have the same objection.

Trend 3: Hate Stocks, Love Real Estate

When Bankrate conducted a study last year asking respondents where they thought the best place to put capital for long term growth over a 10 year period, 23% said cash, 16% said stocks, and 25% said real estate.

Real estate is part of the American dream and the desire to own real estate remains strong even in the post-recession economy. But because the price point to enter the industry is so high, an industry cropped up several years ago to allow smaller investors to own partial real estate assets that is already worth several billion dollars. It is called real estate crowdfunding and it also poses a challenge to the traditional financial planning model.

Mid level investors that are more interested in real estate than in financial products like stocks and bonds are depriving financial advisors of customers. "Crowdfunded real estate is a viable investment for mid-level investors, but traditional advisors lack the tools or resources to manage those assets," says Canter.

Industry leaders like Peer Street, Real Crowd, and Realty Mogul offer diverse options from residential to commercial real estate investments.

What's Next For Financial Advising According to predictions, it is estimated household financial assets in the United States are forecast to grow from $35 trillion in 2015 to nearly $64 trillion by 2030.

That means $64 trillion dollars of potential assets to be managed and it's safe to say that financial management companies need to innovate quickly to win that business or risk losing everything.

Published on: Oct 10, 2016