Raymond James' Margaret Starner shares her strategy for digitizing her practice.

I started my career in financial services 35 years ago, before the birth of many everyday technologies like smartphones, tablets and even the World Wide Web. Just as we as a society have come to rely on certain technologies, I, too, as an experienced financial advisor, have come to rely on them for my practice as well.

Some of my peers feel that technology is intimidating or requires too much up-front investment, in both time and money. What I’ve learned over almost four decades in this business is just the opposite – that the right tech actually buys you time.

For any old-school dogs hesitant to learn new tech-savvy tricks, I encourage you to take these three steps to digitize your practice:

Go paperless. Moving from paper to pixels does require upfront scanning time, but it pays you back tenfold in efficiencies. Imagine 35 years of documents and paperwork files. Now imagine searching through rows of files for client onboarding documents, financial plans and year-end reviews. I began scanning all documents to become paperless before it was trending, and I’m so glad I did. Being able to easily search for and share documents has saved countless hours and helped make my team much more efficient.

Take advantage of software. As my book grew, it created a lot of volume. I needed more hours in the day, and technology essentially helped me achieve that. I started using financial planning software, which allowed me to create at least one in-depth, holistic financial plan a week. I used my firm’s Client Reporting software to create custom reports, which saved me at least an hour of prep time per client review. With the time saved, I’m able to spend more time building and strengthening my client relationships.

Ask the experts. I’m comfortable using technology, but have relied on tech gurus, at my firm and in the industry, along the way. I have hired extremely tech-savvy associates with computer science and graphic arts degrees to focus on digitizing and streamlining our practice as much as possible. Having associates with that expertise on my team allows me to focus on my expertise – thoughtful financial planning for my clients.

I believe that in this digital age, embracing technology and incorporating it into your practice is essential to succeed in this business. As advisors, we offer a unique, personalized service to clients; one that is unmatched, but made more efficient through our use of technology.