July 12, 2012

Top 10 Technology Trends for Advisors and Their Partners: Pt. 8, Outsourcing

In the previous post of our twelve-part blog series on the Top 10 Technology Trends for advisors and their partners, we explored the seventh trend: how moving data and software to the cloud provides many benefits for advisors and their partners. The eighth trend we will discuss in this post is outsourcing.

Outsourcing is no longer a negative term associated with shipping jobs overseas. It is not something only done to replace menial manual tasks. Rather, outsourcing has become a mainstream way of getting more done with less. The outsourcing trend, thus, is the continued evolution of outsourced solutions.    

There is a lot to be said for the phrase “focus on what you’re good at, and outsource the rest.” If you’re a great financial advisor, that doesn’t mean you’re a great advertising copywriter. The key to effective outsourcing is figuring out what you’re good at and what you like to do, and outsourcing the rest to others who have a specific talent as it relates to the task that needs to be completed. 

Your outsourcing could actually be “insourcing”: delegating the task to someone already on your team who has the skill, the will, the time and the passion to accomplish the desired task. Assuming, however, that your task cannot be done by someone internally, then outsourcing is locating a person or persons outside your firm who are better able to perform the desired function. 

There are firms that specialize in financial advisor outsourcing, which means they are staffed with experienced financial services professionals with specific talents. For example, as discussed in the post on Workflow,  trend No. 6, doing it yourself can be very expensive because you’ll most likely get it wrong. Instead, you can outsource that work to professionals who cumulatively spend thousands of hours each year mapping out workflow and processes for financial services firms. Yes, the outlay of cash to pay for outsourcing can be expensive. However, compared to doing it yourself, getting it wrong, and really causing problems within your firm, the cost of outsourcing can be an incredible deal with superb ROI. 

Other ways to outsource include using online services such as Guru.com and Elance.com. These services allow you to identify and engage with experts, primarily in areas like marketing, sales, website development, etc. You can outsource event planning, making phone calls . . . just about anything. There are even services that provide a virtual assistant whose job can include everything from writing letters to answering your email.

You do want to be careful with outsourcing client-facing tasks, however. For example, just because you technically can outsource the job of answering your phone to someone virtually anywhere in the world, by doing so, you can lose the personal touch your clients may expect. 

The Outsourcing trend for financial enterprises is that many advisors expect their B-D or custodian to provide ‘pre-approved’ outsource partners. Many enterprise firms are finding that some advisors believe the enterprise ought to pay for some, if not all, of outsourced services directly. 

As an enterprise, it may make sense to pay for outsourcing on behalf of advisors, if the specific task has a high return on investment for both the advisor and the enterprise. For example, it could be highly profitable for an enterprise to pay for some or all of the outsourcing tasks related to configuring workflow. If done correctly, embedded processes and workflow can create tremendous efficiencies allowing the firm to spend more time with prospects and clients, capturing more AUM for both the firm and enterprise. On the other hand, paying for outsourcing related to writing client thank-you notes probably doesn’t make sense. 

For the advisor who is generating significant revenue for an enterprise, helping that advisor select from a list of pre-approved outsourcers and paying for those services when appropriate can be the greatest investment an enterprise can make in helping its advisor base reach a new level of success.

View all the articles in this series at the Top Tech Trends home page.

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