Technology not the holy grail

With Sean Ickowicz, Head of Asia Pacific - TipRanks

Date: 13 June 2017

With an avid interest in technology and exploring how it can help industries and clients, Sean Ickowicz has always been involved in the tech sector.

His first job out of university saw him working at online retail outlet dstore. Like Amazon in nature, it was a concept delivered well before its time; subsequently he held roles at SEEK Ltd and the REA group ( before becoming involved with TipRanks.

Now Sean is TipRanks’ Head of the Asia Pacific Region, working closely with the Israel-based co-founders to ensure TipRanks continues to deliver innovation and value to the market.

“TipRanks is in essence a startup that has been running for approximately five years. It is a platform that evaluates public stock recommendations made by financial analysts or financial bloggers and then ranks those experts based on their accuracy and performance.

He adds: “Our primary mission is to deliver the most accurate and accountable financial advice to the public, empowering them with unbiased information whilst simultaneously creating a level playing field for investors.”

Sean considers TipRanks to be innovative because it continues to be a unique offering in the market and no one else, at a global level, is yet to deliver the same functionality and services as TipRanks.

“Our technology applies machine learning and natural language processing to analyse unstructured financial data (especially in online environments such as blogs, forums or stock picks) by stripping the information of any bias and providing transparency, to help investors make better decisions. We are the only AdviceTech providers who do this, within Australia or internationally.”

Working in the AdviceTech space, Sean encounters the various highs and lows of technology. He considers the fast pace, efficiency and ability to cause disruption as great traits of

“The agility of the AdviceTech space enables us to develop, continually improve and adapt to ensure we are giving the market the tools they need. However, on the flipside, the low is the overwhelming expectation from advisers and investors that technology is the ‘holy grail’ that can solve any issue or objective. Whilst technology is part of an overall answer, advisers and investors need to look at technology as the lever to success, not as the sole tool in the toolkit,” said Sean.

Netwealth 2017 AdviceTech Report

The report paints a picture of how technology is currently being used in the dynamic and evolving advice industry and provides insights into key areas of focus, must-have, high adoption services, and technologies that are regarded as disruptors, but are not yet being adopted.

Download AdviceTech Report

Is technology always the best business solution?

According to Sean, technology is not always the best solution and similarly, to the lows of technology, people often have unrealistic expectations that technology can fix all. But it is simply one part of an overall solution puzzle.

With Sean’s extensive experience in the AdviceTech and tech space overall, it’s safe to say he has seen how advisers can make the most of technology for both their business and clients.

“In my time in the AdviceTech space I have seen that the most successful applications of technology are made by advisers who are truly keen to try out and adopt new technologies. However, at the same time, it’s vital for them to know what differentiates them from their competitors. It’s this point of differentiation that will enable them to reach their market; the technology is simply the lever to assist,” said Sean.

Innovation in the AdviceTech space

According to Sean, the current level of innovation in the AdviceTech space can be summed up as compelling, with innovation happening at a rapid pace and momentum building
quickly. “For example, two years ago an advice firm invested on average around $80,000 into technology whereas now it’s around $100,000. This is a sign that people are increasingly moving with the times and adapting to change,” says Sean.

It is this increasing pace that will drive the future of innovation and what it looks like. Sean envisions the future of innovation as one in which robo-advice and aggregation dominate, with robo-advice used to manage fixed model algorithm and aggregation employed to help advisers and investors cut through online noise and find the information they want.

With compelling levels of innovation, increasing numbers of advisers adopting new technologies and robo-advice and aggregation trending upwards, Sean predicts the advice space in 2025 will be a hybrid robo-advice model.

For example, investors won’t have to go searching for annual reports, media releases and company announcements to evaluate the investment potential of a business – they will be able to go to one site or app and extract all the information they need efficiently.

With compelling levels of innovation, increasing numbers of advisers adopting new technologies and robo-advice and aggregation trending upwards, Sean predicts the advice space in 2025 will be a hybrid robo-advice model.

“I think that in 2025 there will be a hybrid robo-advice model with robo-advice managing approximately 10% of global investable wealth. I don’t think it will extend beyond a small percentage for a while as we still have an ageing market and people in general will take time to adapt to this new method. I also think technology will be used to do tasks that require complex algorithms such as creating actively managed portfolios.”