“Technology is rapidly evolving, and the ability to leverage it is increasingly important to the RIA,” Spenser Segal said on the last day of MarketCounsel’s Member Summit 2012 in Las Vegas on Friday. “It’s gone from being a competitive advantage to a business necessity.”
Segal, CEO of ActiFi, a software consulting company focused on practice management for the financial services industry, delivered a presentation titled “Driving Tangible Business Results Through Technology and Process Improvements.”
He began by noting that technology can be fun and frustrating to advisors.
“Whether you are an early adopter or a reluctant follower, technology analysis and implementation can be a distraction from running your business,” Segal said. “We’ll walk through the process of assessing your business needs, envisioning the outcome and creating a realistic plan all the way through to implementing and monitoring the initiative to ensure that business objectives are met.”
The benefits of technology, he added, are realized through workflow improvements. The ability to leverage workflow is a key to achieving business outcomes.
“Benefits are realized through people, process and technology. Each one should have a third of the advisor’s resources and focus. In reality, it’s more like a 1:1:98 ratio. Technology will never work unless the other two legs of the stool are supported.”
He then revealed four keys to the successful integration of technology into a practice:
1. Don’t go at it alone—Learn what peers have experienced and what experts are recommending.
2. Make changes to processes carefully—Implement new processes in the same way you would make changes to model portfolios. Change needs constant monitoring and rebalancing.
3. Manage pain of change carefully—Don’t overwhelm users. Segal employed a pinball analogy. A nudge here or there can result in a higher score. Hit it too hard and it results in a tilt.
4. Make sure the processes benefit clients—Don’t assume, ask. Segal often hears of clients who didn’t like a particular piece of an advisor’s technology. But because the advisor seemed so proud, they were afraid to offend.
“At the end of the day, when things go awry with a particular piece of technology, it is the will, skill and time the advisor is willing to devote that will see them through it,” Segal concluded.