DO clarify in writing the purpose and ideal outcomes of any changes you are considering, including whether you seek to add to or replace something you are currently using. If your goal is to replace an existing vendor or tool, be sure to document how you use or rely upon the existing vendor or tool in your business.
DO create a small taskforce (that does not include the entire team) to accomplish the first task. Always survey other team members and value their input, but limit the people on the decision team to those with the greatest expertise and concern in the matter.
DO be honest about addressing any bias in the group, such as personal loyalty to a vendor relationship, tools that have been customized internally, etc. Provide leadership that focuses everyone on the company’s goals and future.
DO include outside consultants in the areas of IT, practice management or both who know the industry and will understand your goals as a firm.
DO be open to the idea that the issues with your current technology may be internal adoption, training or clarity about its capabilities.
DO talk to other RIA firms about their experience with specific tools. To get the most out of these conversations, have a few questions ready.
DON’T assume that you have very little decision flexibility based on your broker-dealer or custodian’s technology bundling or historical compliance requirements. Everything is evolving.
DON’T settle for an IT partner that never speaks your language. Yes, it is possible to have confidence in your IT decisions and costs without being a tech expert.
Marty Miller is the founder of Clear Path Consulting; reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Matt Lynch is the managing partner of Strategy & Resources LLC, a financial services consulting firm; he can be reached at MLynch@strategyandresources.com.