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InvestmentNews takes advisers through the developments and innovations in technology that’ll change the way you do business today—and tomorrow.

NextGen: Computers, cellphones and calculators

Computers and the internet have changed everything, not only for us but for the “NextGen” as well.

Dec 26, 2013 @ 7:31 am

By Sheryl Rowling

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I am an “average adviser.” You see, the average adviser is in his/her mid-50s and I qualify. We didn't grow up with computers, cell phones or calculators. (In fact, I won a math contest when I was a high school senior and my prize was … a slide rule.)

We learned how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide, and even how to calculate square roots, by hand. We could convert decimals in our heads, do most math computations without pad and pencil, and remember basic formulas. These days, Next Generation advisers rely on calculators to handle all mathematical questions. Their calculators are programmable and contain so many functions, the average adviser can't figure them out. Or, at least I can't. I still use my old TI calculator.

Remember when we knew our friends' and family's phone numbers by heart? We carried our address books with us, always written in pencil so we could easily change entries when someone moved. Cell phones have changed all that. We can't even remember our own phone numbers let alone anyone else's. And we don't need to. We simply tell Siri to call Joe and it does – like magic!

Computers and the internet have changed everything, not only for us but for the “Next Gen” as well. We used to do research at the library using index cards and microfiche. Now, we can Google anything we want. Gone are the days of writing letters that we mailed to friends. We simply type out emails or texts; no need to wait days in between for delivery. With this convenience, and spell check, younger people don't worry about spelling. Either the computer will fix it or they can use text shorthand when answering a friend “IDK.” There's even a debate on whether to continue to teach cursive writing in school!

We all value technology. But are our children being deprived of learning essential skills? I don't have the answer.

I have a feeling that the changes are here to stay and will continue to evolve.

Sheryl Rowling is chief executive of Total Rebalance Expert and principal at Rowling & Associates. She considers herself a non-techie user of technology.

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