From the August 2012 issue of Investment Advisor • Subscribe!

July 24, 2012

Tech Questions for Summertime

The slow period in late summer is a good time to take stock of your technology solutions

August is my favorite time of year for new projects. Summertime generally means longer days, children out of school, vacation time and maybe lighter business volume compared with the rest of the year. When your work offers you a lull, it is an excellent opportunity to do a little daydreaming, maybe do some window shopping, or take time for that free trial of a new service or software program. More specifically, it’s a good time to ask, “What technology areas require more research before we pull the trigger?” To get started with this exercise, allow me to recommend some ideas.

Mobile technology fulfills a larger role each day in the lives of advisors. You probably already use several mobile apps to help you better serve your clients. So ask yourself, “Should we offer our own mobile app?” The answer is, as always, it depends, but it is definitely not out of the question. You should consider offering a mobile app if part of your marketing strategy is to position your firm as a high adopter of technology. In addition, if your client base is more technologically savvy, consider using a mobile app to communicate your investment commentary or offer access to client reports. Consider a mobile app as another channel through which to serve and connect with your clients.

Is it time for your firm to advertise on Facebook? Leaving aside the marketing and compliance aspects of this discussion, from a technology perspective, it is a very interesting and relatively easy service to evaluate. If your firm consistently attracts clients with similar attributes and needs, then you could consider using Facebook advertising to target more of these types of clients. The technology behind Facebook allows you to customize who should see your ads, and you can easily control your costs. It has a very low barrier for entry and allows you to try different methods without significant cost or time. Advertising on Facebook could be considered similar to advertising in local business journals or community newsletters, but with a greater ability to target a specific audience.

How effectively is your firm using LinkedIn? I’m sure most advisors and their employees have an account, but have you connected with your clients? Be sure that you are set up to receive updates when your clients change jobs or get a promotion. LinkedIn can be a great tool for participating in discussions using the “Your Groups” features. If you are attending a conference, for example, that is listed under the Events page, record your attendance and find out who else is going.

Twitter is definitely a tool that can be used in many different ways, depending on the needs of your firm and your clients. Do you have clients who would appreciate a tweet from you regarding the markets, investment ideas and other financial news stories? For some advisors, Twitter fits perfectly with their overall marketing strategy. For others, Twitter may simply be something they can use to alert them to news events and articles. You can also use Twitter to follow comments from conferences you are attending or meetings that you are unable to attend. By following the Twitter hashtag associated with the conference, you can stay informed of topics and ideas being discussed.

This list is just a start on potential technology areas you could consider for your firm. As with any technology solution or effort, your overall level of utilization and success is directly connected with the goals, objectives and needs of your firm. You don’t need to be a “power user” of every technology in order to achieve success. Therefore, don’t be intimidated by new technologies, because it might take several “looks” before you make something work for your firm. By the same token, don’t get overwhelmed with the minutia if all you are trying to do is test a new product to address a relatively simple need.

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