Has big data had its moment? The advisory profession has been abuzz about data mining for the past year or so-and no wonder.
While big data remains a part of the landscape, forward-thinking advisors are experimenting with something that hasn’t gotten much of a shout out: small data mined from their own in-house software programs.
“When I apply this in the advisor context I immediately get a little bit stuck about the relevance of big data for advisors. We don’t exactly have that many clients that make data sets all that big in the first place,” according to certified financial planner Michael Kitces, author of The Kitces Report and Nerd’s Eye View blog.
“What is relevant is small data. As opportunities, what can we do to look at the data we do have within our practice and analyze it? This is new for us.”
If small is the new big, what exactly is it that advisors can analyze to help them grow wallet share while also improving their service model? Among other things, says Kitces, they can extract from their CRMs and portfolio management software data points that can answer such questions as: What is the average age of your clients? Average revenue? Distribution of revenue by age group? What portion of your revenue in the last year came from new clients versus existing clients? Where did your new clients come from? How were they referred? Is there a commonality to them?
What is pushing the big data mining trend that has held the industry in its thrall? An expansion of publicly available information and the technology to parse it.
As Mike Alfred, CEO of BrightScope, a financial information company in San Diego, observes: “Everything is being tracked. There’s a sensor in your phone, in your car. Where people used to know you were friends with Martha anecdotally, now you know it on Facebook and LinkedIn. Science, data and technology have proliferated to the point where we all have a computer in our pocket more powerful than what the wealthiest person in the world had 20 years ago. It’s connecting and making all the information easier to use and understand. We’re going to a world where there is a lot less mystery.”