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Efficient Technologies Inc. Takes Advisors to the Next Level

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Over the past year, I’ve had some health issues that have caused me to spend way more time in doctors’ offices than I care to think about. A substantial—and annoying—portion of that time was wasted on filling out forms asking for large amounts of personal data which the doctors already had in their computer systems, but were required to be filled out by hand (mine) on multiple forms asking for the same information on every visit to every doctor, hospital, lab, etc.

I often spend the remainder of each visit wondering when our healthcare system would finally get its act together, and upgrade to technology that would enable them to print out their forms with the information they already have—or even better, to enable me to fill out each form online—once. 

So imagine how my ears pricked up when had a chance to chat with Richard Walker, the founder and CEO of Efficient Technology, Inc. in Redondo Beach, California. His company does for advisory clients what I wish my doctors would do for me: enables advisors to populate all their forms with the information that their clients provide one time—online. It may seem like a small thing, but it’s the kind of service that clients will appreciate, and remember. 

Walker is a former tech guy for Arthur Andersen Consulting where he helped Arthur streamline its technology applications. But he wanted to work directly with humans, so in 2000 he became a financial planner and went to work for a midsized planning firm. “I didn’t want to be a tech guy,” he told me, “I wanted to be the next Suze Orman. But the technology at the planning firm was just so abysmally inefficient. It took us six months to create a new form on their system. One form! I couldn’t believe it. The problem, as I soon discovered, is that the independent advisory industry is just too small to attract serious tech help. So after two years of avoiding doing something about it, I broke down, and had to help solve the tech problems. And I realized I could help lots of other firms, too.” 

With the blessing of his employers (who were just happy to get some high-quality tech help), Walker launched his own firm to help independent advisory firms streamline their technology to save money, reduce workload and make their clients happier. “We realized that most advisors approach their client forms the wrong way, because it’s how most current tools work: create each form on its own, separately,” he said. “We take a different approach. We provide a service platform. We build forms, manage forms, service forms; forms that are online, fillable, interactive, and secure. And based on my experience in a planning firm, we offer all the forms that advisors use: admin, data, new accounts, back office, investment policy statements, etc.” And, they use e-signatures, so clients don’t have to come into the office just to sign documents. 

Also, based on Walker’s experience that advisors tend to be research oriented, ETI also created a series of white papers that detail how to use their technology to create more efficient firms from “Achieving the Paperless Office,” to the “New Account Opening Process,” to “Maintaining Form Updates.”

ETI really is like having on call the tech consultant that most advisory firms can’t afford. They provide the obvious next step toward using technology to make independent advice even more independent.

Now, if I could just introduce the Efficient Tech folks to my doctor…