I know you can’t believe it either, but here we are at the end of another year. Time flies, and now in December you are trying to complete your to-do list with the goal of being in a good position to start 2018.
Something that should be included on your to-do list is taking time to review and even reflect on how this past year was for your firm from a technology perspective. As we have discussed many times, there is a lot of change happening with technology, and maintaining the “status quo” is not the best course of action to take for your firm.
The technology environment for investment advisors continues to evolve and change. Forgive me for stating the obvious, but it’s clear that fintech is hot, and the solutions available for advisors continue to be improved and enhanced.
What is the relevance of new technology for your firm? Well, 2017 had a great chance of being a good technology year for your firm. Long gone are the days when advisors could count on their fingers the number of technology companies focused on serving their needs.
Therefore, if you are unhappy with any of your current technology solutions, you have more choices today than ever before for potential replacement products. Bottom line, it is hard to find a valid reason in this environment to feel “stuck” with any technology solution.
What did your firm accomplish with technology in 2017? This might be an easy question to answer if you deployed a major new technology product during the year. Even if you didn’t make any substantial technology changes, there are always improvement opportunities with your existing technology solutions.
At a minimum, you should be more efficient with your time, more accessible to your clients and colleagues, and better informed, when compared with previous years. Hopefully you are measuring the improvement and using the results to build further progress and momentum. As part of your year-end technology review, be sure to evaluate the best practices and training that worked best for your firm, and perhaps more importantly, the ones that didn’t.
Do you have any technology goals or objectives that haven’t been achieved or perhaps even some that require a “course correction” considering their current state? Unfortunately, sometimes it is too easy to let things continue to move (slowly) at their own pace, especially as it relates to technology.
The simple date change from 2017 to 2018 is a great opportunity to regain momentum and leave bad technology processes and decisions behind and essentially get a “fresh start” for 2018. Of course, this just won’t happen itself, and you need to be thoughtful with your new game plan. Therefore, be specific and deliberate with what technology products to focus on and how you want your technology environment to change to achieve success in 2018.
A good way to evaluate your current status is to ask, what do your clients think about how your firm’s technology improved during 2017? In fact, your client’s perceptions could be your biggest risk area. Do your clients believe that your technology is falling behind the times?
If you are not sure where to start with this question, look at the adoption metrics of how your clients engage with your firm from a technology perspective. Even if you don’t have detailed numbers, you still can get a sense of what matters to your clients simply by the technology questions that they may ask of your firm.
Also, this is a good opportunity to evaluate your technology marketing strategy: How do you promote the technology tools available to your clients? Maybe the actual technology investment (numbers of dollars and time) is not an issue and it is more about how you market for prospects and how you educate and train your clients.
Finally, hopefully during the holidays you’ll have a chance to take a break from the day-to-day responsibilities of running your firm. This also is a good time to re-evaluate and maybe even challenge your current views on certain technologies.
Are there technology solutions you have previously avoided, whether for cost, complexity, or security concerns? Are they now due another look? Have you overlooked new features with your existing technology products? Perhaps you have a technology wish list that needs to be re-prioritized?
To effectively address these questions, use some of the time offered at the end of this year and during the holidays to dig deeper and find the right answers for your firm.