Technology evolves at lightning speed these days, offering RIAs better, faster, and often more complex systems that should make what we do easier and more efficient. Knowing when it’s time to make the move to new technology (and when you should resist the bandwagon) is one of the four biggest challenges facing financial advisors today. In my series of blogs on advisors’ top four business hurdles (Greg Friedman on Business Development), I shared last time some tips on how to grow your business. In this blog, I’ll cover how to manage changing technology and determine what your firm needs and what your firm can do without.
It seems like every time I pick up my smart phone, I have a dozen updates to apply. Whether it’s a bug fix or enhancements, it’s difficult to know what I’m updating let alone grasp how those changes are supposed to improve my experience. It’s the same way with advisor technology. The market for new programs keeps expanding, giving advisors more and more options for customizing a technology interface that—if done correctly—can transform a struggling firm into a successful one.
What advisors should understand is that new and trendy don’t always equate to better or right for a firm. We’re notoriously change averse in this industry and while we’re constantly expected to embrace the latest technology, I encourage advisors to follow this four-step process before making any significant changes to what programs and systems you choose to support your business.
Step 1: Assess Your People
Your technology investment is only as efficient and useful as the people who will be using it every day. Do your employees understand, utilize and promote the firm-wide adoption of your current systems? Assess what your team needs and how they’re using your current programs to meet your firm’s goals. How quickly do they grasp new programs and systems? Are they resistant to change and sticking to the “old way” whenever possible? Could they benefit from additional training or resources?
Before you consider any new technology, start by assessing your people to create a list of technology needs that can support your goals. Having the right team with the right skills, right attitude, and right aptitude is the foundation that will make or break your firm’s success in embracing technology.
Step 2: Identify Workflow Gaps
Once you’re got a clear picture of your team’s needs, consider your current office procedures and workflows to identify gaps that can be improved through technology. Are employees missing simple tasks that are affecting client service? Are you seeing hard work but it’s not adding up in revenue? Is there a common issue around compliance and ensuring that you’re capturing the right information? Maximizing technology to help you tighten the reins around workflow can quickly affect your bottom line.
Be sure to include your team in this exercise. Ask them where they see shortcomings in your office workflow. How could technology help them accomplish what they need to do, perhaps save them time, and boost their efficiency?
Step 3: Make Technology Work for You
You shouldn’t have to force technology to work for you just because it’s the latest, fastest and most advanced system available.The wrong technology won’t help you become more efficient or attract more clients. When in doubt, simplify. Understand exactly what you need (and only what you need) and find the right programs that meet your requirements.
Step 4: Evaluate What’s Available
Remember, RIAs have a lot of options now to tailor a technology suite for their firms, so take advantage of what’s available to you. Sign up for demonstrations, watch videos and talk to representatives that can answer all of your questions. Ask yourself:
- Is this technology geared toward advisors?
- Does it include features that will help my firm boost efficiency and meet my goals?
- How will this program work for me as I expand my practice?
- What kind of support and resources are available to me?
Making a decision on new technology should never be determined by trends and passing fads. There is no firm quite like yours, so choose technology that works for you today with an eye on what you’ll need down the road.
Read the complete blog series, Greg Friedman on Business Development.