Tech firms strike partnership with universities to bolster financial planning

FAStech formalizes ad hoc network of platforms to give students entree into tech world

Aug 21, 2013 @ 5:14 pm

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technology, software, financial planning, university
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To combat the short supply of qualified next-generation advisers, a group of technology firms has formed a partnership called FAStech to give participating universities free access to eight top software technologies used by advisers.

The idea behind the FAStech partnership is to provide financial planning students easy entrée into the world of technology, which continues to take a greater role in advisers' practices.

In years past, partnerships between schools and tech firms were struck on a case-by-case basis. Today's ceremonial unveiling was part of a plan to formalize and expand the enterprise between universities and advisory tech firms to include more schools and create a single web-portal with access to the full range of software offerings.

Software available through the partnership includes MoneyGuidePro (financial planning), Redtail Technology (customer relationship management), Orion Advisor Services (portfolio management), and five others. FAStech was founded by Chad Blythe, senior vice president of sales and business development at MoneyGuidePro.

While the official arrangement between FAStech and the partner universities is new, financial planning schools have provided students with access to software from leading advisory technology firms for years — though without a systematic intermediary.

Barry S. Mulholland, assistant professor at Texas Tech University's Personal Financial Planning Program, said his university has integrated aspects of FAStech into the school's curriculum for the past six years.

“Technology … plays an important part in the lives of many financial advisers and exposing new talent to it early will increase productivity and greatly reduce the time spent training new advisers,” he said in a statement.

Virginia Tech's financial planning program has worked on an ad-hoc basis with many of the technology providers involved in FAStech for the past five years or so, and the results have been overwhelmingly positive.

“We deliver a course specifically targeted at developing a working understanding of a few best-in-breed software products,” said Derek Klock, assistant professor of practice in the Department of Finance.

“After graduating, students often come back and talk about how their understanding of technology gave them a leg up in the hiring process,” he said. “The technology course is only required for one of the two programs, but it always seems to fill up. There aren't usually open seats.”

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