A decade goes by in a blink of an eye, but when you look back at those ten years, it’s often incredible how much actually happened. The new year is still just getting started, but before we look ahead, I want to head back into the past for a moment, as I think it’s important to see how far we’ve come.

Ten years ago, advisors had a completely different outlook on technology. It was a year before the iPhone was even introduced. Mobile apps and making sure websites worked on 4-inch screens existed only in dreams, if even there. Getting a custom logo on a printed paper statement was an exciting customization.

I think when you look at these simple examples, it becomes even more amazing what advisors have access to right now through technology. It shows that we’ve reached a place where advisors will be looking for tools that help grow their business outward, not just streamline it internally.

The Technology We Have Today

We’ve officially crossed the robo-frontier and are living in a digital industry. As more prospects are digitally savvy, it’s more important than ever for advisors to keep pace in order to remain competitive.

It is important to take an inventory of your digital assets and how they are doing at meeting your client needs. Start by reviewing your Google Analytics reports each month to get a feel for how your homepage is serving your existing clients and prospects. Consider plugging in a tracking tool like Pardot so that you know who is visiting your site and what their interests are, and come up with a use score. You can also use these tools to determine the effectiveness of your market update blogs, so that you know when you are resonating with your clients.

Beyond your homepage, move your communication into your client portal. Make sure that you know what clients find most valuable within your portal by looking at utilization stats. Review what pages and reports are being used the most, and make sure that these showcase your value proposition, enabling positive conversations with your clients about their portfolios and goals.

When advisors know their business and clients better, they can make better decisions about the services offered, and how those services help them extend their value. Compared to a decade ago, advisors now have the technology available to connect business intelligence tools that give them a fast and simple high-level analysis into their business.

Closing the Gap in 2016

Business intelligence tools offer advisors a clear way to identify key metrics about their clients and make more informed decisions about who their target market needs to be, in the present and in the future. With data comes the ability to build a solid strategy based not on feelings, but on fact.

Once advisors understand the type of client they need to attract, they can go about building digital content that educates those prospects. Advisors should be the leaders in educating their clients about financial issues, and an effective use of their website can help them do that. And of course, advisory firms need to know their strengths and weaknesses. At Orion, we are pretty big on data analysis tools and we built our Business Intelligence platform to help advisors become aware of what those are. Plato’s exertion to “know thyself” is as relevant today as it was in ancient Greece, and it is just as vital to a business owner as it is to a philosophy student.

When you take the time to move past your feelings about how your firm is doing, and use actual data to make decisions based on objective analysis, you position yourself to succeed in the coming year and beyond.

Challenge the Status Quo

As you plan to grow in 2016, take an inventory of your marketing, business processes and technology to ensure the methods you use to support your goals continue to be relevant for what is going on in the world today.  New paradigms for advertising on social platforms, allowing prospects to open accounts right on your homepage, offering client portals to improve transparency, and wrapping it all up with business intelligence to enable wise adjustments along the way are critical to position your firm for success. 

I am a firm believer that growth in 2016 means taking a careful look at the way you have been doing business, and adapting to new trends like utilizing intelligence software to take an analytical, top-down narrative of your firm so you can craft a realistic success plan.

When you understand the core need of the investors you want to work with, and you give them reason to trust that you will take care of that need, you put yourself in a position to grow. What sacred cows exist within your firm, and what are the hurdles that you face in challenging the way things have always been done? I’d love to hear from you.