When an advisor decides start to an independent RIA firm, it is time to think about technology. Technology isn’t usually top-of-mind for breakaways, but there are a myriad of decisions to make far in advance of turning on the lights in the new firm. To help navigate this transition, here’s a short primer on what to consider and when during the three phases of the breakaway lifecycle.
12 Months From Launch Date: Research & Guidance
Approximately 12 months before the intended launch date, breakaways need to think through how they want their firm to function so they can start building their technology platform accordingly. This means attending demonstrations and meeting with technology vendors to understand what is available.
Starting an RIA introduces breakaways to a new world of advisor technology. The sheer volume of choices can be overwhelming for those accustomed to flipping a switch and getting to work. Even breakaway teams typically lack an expert in RIA technology and operations who can help think through what is a need-to-have, nice-to-have and unnecessary.
At this stage, breakaways also choose a custodian (or two), which influences the future RIA’s technology. While the custodian’s technology consultants can offer high-level insights on some software and applications, advisors should not rely solely on what the custodian says. Their support is needed, but their focus is on integration with their platform.
An independent technology consultant who understands the particulars of starting a RIA can take breakaways through all of the ins and outs of technology planning for a new firm. This impartial third party can facilitate discussions about workflow and timing, helping breakaways think through things like: Does the phone system need to integrate with the CRM system? Do you need an office scanner or a desktop scanner? What about paper flow? What kind of wiring should the new office have?
Once the breakaway crystalizes how they want their workflow to … flow, the consultant can offer guidance on what to buy and when, integration and equipment installation.
Six Months to Go: Building a Virtual Office
Technology decision-making gets underway in earnest about six months from the RIA’s official start date. There are limits on what a breakaway can do prior to opening up shop, but this the time for getting as much technology in place as possible to be as fully operational as possible by day one.
It is time to buy things like hardware, copiers and printers. It is time to consider office space with the right infrastructure and wiring. It is time to select a telephone system and figure out who will purchase and have it installed when the RIA does not officially exist.