So much time, money and energy is spent on maintaining and developing new technology solutions to benefit advisors and clients that it can be overwhelming for an advisor to know what to do next. In fact, I frequently hear advisors expressing frustration that they didn't know about new technology features or that they feel it is an uphill battle to stay abreast of all the technology announcements. Here are several ideas and best practices to make sure you are not overlooking new beneficial technology tools and features.
As it relates to gathering technology information, it is important to have an open and inquisitive mindset. Too often, our regular habits, already formed opinions and technology behaviors influence what technology news, ideas and events ultimately get our attention. Considering the pace of today's technology advancements, you almost want to minimize what you already know so that new ideas can get your attention.
To be clear, I’m not implying that you should be careless or that your current and past technology experiences do not matter — they certainly do! However, you want to make sure that you are always a “technology student” who is actively looking for the next great technology solution or idea for your firm.
Considering the variety of technology systems that advisors may use at their firm, the overall volume of relevant announcements and updates can be extensive. This is why it is important to be disciplined and strategic with your time and attention. Specifically, you shouldn't take the same approach and amount of effort for every system that you use (or even plan to use). You don't want the news cycle to be the primary driver of what gets your attention.
A good place to start is to create a list of your technology solutions and identify how you receive information, updates and other news for each product. The more important the product is to your business, the more time and attention should be allocated to it. You know you are doing a great job in this area when you are not surprised by updates anymore because you are watching for the next version and already have an idea of how it might benefit your firm.
Being better informed about new technology trends and updates also requires that you understand how your firm generally prefers to use technology. For example, does your firm strive to be an early adopter of new technology or would you rather wait until some initial bugs have been addressed?
Your regular adoption preference might change depending on the type of technology or solution involved. It is easier for early adopters to be better informed — they don't really have a choice. For late adopters, it is important to monitor the new technology trends and updates, even if your firm is not a current user of the technology. If you don't, you might overlook a new feature or tool, which could cost real time and money before it gets your attention again.
For larger, more complex advisory firms, it is important to know who has the responsibility for staying up to date on the latest technology. Is it one person? Maybe it is the person who oversees your technology department. This is generally the default owner, however, depending on the technology solutions involved, this could be a significant task that requires more of the eyes and ears of your firm.
You could make one person responsible for staying up to date on your performance-reporting solution and task another person with covering the same items for your custodian's technology. These individuals would also be ideally positioned to help introduce and increase adoption on the new features of the solutions they cover.
Staying informed and up to date on technology is certainly not a new challenge. Technology companies also are trying to figure out the best way to communicate new features of their products to advisors. When everything is aligned, the elusive win-win is achieved for both parties.
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