My decision to embark on this journey of independence began with the decision to establish my own RIA firm in April 2007. It was one of the best career choices I’ve made. At times it’s been rewarding and fulfilling while at other times I’ve felt as lonely as the Maytag repairman. Without question, through the ups and downs, I have learned a number of valuable lessons. In this blog, I’ll share one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned. In fact, this is an issue that every independent advisor will face as they endeavor to grow their business.

When I became an independent advisor in 2007, I was starting from scratch. When my business was relatively small, meeting the needs of my clients was easy. With such a small number of clients, I was able to manage portfolios one account at a time. However, as my business grew, this became increasingly difficult. At some point, I realized that I needed to create a scalable business model. I understood the need to deliver consistent, high-quality service and advice. I also understood that things had to change. How do you create scale and consistency? How do you improve productivity and become more efficient?

The key is to invest in good technology. It’s going to cost, but if done correctly, the return on your investment will be greater than the cost of the technology. Even so, being the frugal person I am, this was a bit difficult. However, after a period of time arguing with myself, I knew I had to do it. Earlier this year, I decided to replace my proprietary financial planning tool (Microsoft Excel and a $2,000 add-in), with a subscription to eMoney. I also decided to retain Morningstar Advisor Workstation. The last item on my list was my CMS.

Originally, I planned to use ACT for another year or two before moving to a cloud-based solution. However, due to the recent death of my laptop and the acquisition of my new computer, the opportune time to make the switch is now. Having the right technology is only part of the solution. It must also be an integrated system. Here is an illustration of the tools I have or will soon acquire.

All of the tools above are cloud-based and most of them integrate with my custodian, TradePMR. In addition, eMoney, Redtail and Morningstar Advisor Workstation will integrate with each other. Here’s a quick example of a few of the benefits I will derive as a result of these changes.

Every day, the market value of each security is automatically updated in eMoney. According to Redtail, the same is true of its CMS product. Therefore, if I wanted to send a group email to all clients holding a specific security, I could easily do so.

In short, the acquisition of these tools will allow me to spend more time on other tasks, including portfolio management and financial planning. I also have a few other projects on my plate which we will discuss in the coming months. 

Until next week, thanks for reading!