Which areas of operations and technology are most challenging for your firm? That was the main question The Collaborative and Advisor Perspectives asked in a survey of 322 individuals representing 315 firms, half of which classify themselves as either investment advisors or wealth managers. The results show that document management, customer relationship management (CRM), and portfolio management rank as the most problematic areas, while billing and trading are the least worrisome.
Mike Slemmer, principal of The Collaborative and co-founder of ATA, notes that these issues are coming up due to an evolving relationship between RIA firms and their custodians. “When it comes to these top three areas and systems that RIAs need, they historically have not gone to custodians for them,” he says. “However, it seems it’s becoming what’s required and custodians will have to participate to keep those RIA firms as their client.”
Respondents were also asked to identify their biggest unresolved problems in each area they ranked as the most problematic. When it came to document management, the amount of paperwork required by custodians and regulatory bodies was the number one answer. Others included having a process that mirrors the firm’s prospect-to-client transition needs, including input to ancillary systems; having the trained staff–and enough staff–to organize the documents, and then get it into a paperless system; differing formats and documents required by both regulatory agencies and custodians; and the perceived cost of imaging equipment and software.