“Robert, I didn’t get into this business to be a technologist. I got into this business because I want to help people.”
These words were the start of an enlightening conversation I recently shared with an advisor while attending an industry-leading technology conference.
Standing before me was an accomplished financial advisor with a thriving practice who chose to attend this conference because he knows tech is vital to his business, and yet, he laments the fact that he has to use it.
He added: “So you mean to tell me that I have to be a CEO, a technologist, a marketer, and a financial adviser if I want to succeed? It’s just too much!”
Maybe you feel this way too. It’s totally understandable if you do. Advisors have hundreds of technology solutions to sift through, many of which perform equally vital functions. Rebalancing, reporting, billing, contact management, appointment setting, marketing — the list goes on.
If you got into this business because you love helping people — not because you love technology — the pressure to sort through so many tech tools can feel overwhelming. Trying to make good decisions when you’re overwhelmed usually just results in rushed decisions or no decisions, neither of which is good.
So how can you cut through all the techno-clutter and make sound decisions that will help your business?
During the past decade, I’ve been privileged to consult with over 1,000 of the nation’s top financial advisors. In doing so, I’ve found that the most technologically advanced among them (who also happen to have the most scalable and profitable businesses) rely on the following principles to make decisions around which technology to implement.
1. Focus on Goals, Not Tools
Have you ever walked into one of those big home improvement stores and wandered around the power tools section? Boxed up, shiny and new, all the tools look so great! I always find it tempting to buy something “just in case.” After all, I never know when I might have to saw something.
Advisor technology is much the same. Most of it looks really great! It may promise to save time or help you engage clients more. And perhaps it will. But do you actually need it? How often will you use it? How long will it take your team to learn it? How much value will it actually deliver for your business? Will it earn back more than it cost? These are all questions that should be answered before investing in new tech.
This is why it’s better to focus on the specific goals you have for your business rather than on the technology itself. First, set your goal. Then, select the technology that will help you reach that goal. In this way, you won’t be adopting technology for the sake of technology, but rather, you’ll be adopting technology for the sake of moving your business toward your desired goal.
Let’s say, for example, that you have the goal of automating your business workflows so you can provide a consistent, high-quality experience for your clients. If this is one of your business goals, selecting tech becomes much simpler because you merely need to find the solution that will help you reach this goal in the most effective, affordable and time-saving manner.
In summary: Don’t just buy tech. Buy tech that helps you reach the goals you’ve already set.
2. Look Beyond the Sales Glitter
I run a technology company. Do I want you to buy my technology? Sure I do. And my sales team will work really hard to sell it to you. But does that mean you should buy it? Only you can answer that (see point #1). What you can be sure of though, is that my salespeople will enumerate all the reasons you should buy our solution. In some cases they will be right, but in others they won’t.
What should you do?
Remember that almost all technology looks good in a demo, but that doesn’t mean it will work for you.
Take time to thoroughly evaluate all your options before investing in new tech. Ask other advisors what they’re using and what they like or dislike. Do additional research in industry publications. Look for social proof, awards and accolades to substantiate the value of the product you’re considering. Are testimonials available? Is the product endorsed or recommended by industry thought leaders? What is the company’s track record? Do they offer a low-cost trial?
Investing in technology is like investing in people. Just as a wrong hiring decision can cost your company thousands of dollars in lost time and revenue, so can a bad technology decision.
So weigh your options carefully. Do thorough research before investing in new tech.
3. Choose the Right Person for the Job
In most cases, that person is not you.
Please excuse me if that offends you, but if you’re an advisor, it’s true. Your time should not be spent selecting or implementing new technology unless it’s something you’re personally going to use every day.
Your time is just too valuable.
The job of researching, vetting and implementing new technology should be delegated to your staff. They’re likely the ones who will use it most anyway. Let them take ownership of the whole process.
That’s not to say you can’t be involved in the decision. After your staff does the research, have them pitch you on the solution they recommend. Let them justify it to you. The result will be more engagement and more commitment from your team. Plus, you will have the added benefit of freeing up your time to focus on what you do best: Building relationships with clients and prospects.
It’s no secret that advisors need great technology if they want to grow and scale their businesses. Those who don’t innovate technologically run the risk of becoming irrelevant.
At the same time though, it’s important to remember that you don’t need to buy every shiny new tool the techno whizzes are selling. Do you need tech? Sure you do. Do you need every new piece of tech out there? Not a chance.
So don’t let the abundance of technology options overwhelm you. Just follow these three principles and you’ll be making the right tech decisions in no time! Even George Jetson would be proud.
As a MarTech entrepreneur and marketing consultant, Robert Sofia has served over 1,000 companies since 2005. His list of clients includes solo advisers, ensembles, RIAs, family offices, BDs, GAs, BGAs, custodians, investment companies, and insurance companies.
Robert’s company, Snappy Kraken (www.SnappyKraken.com), took first place in the FinTech Startup Competition hosted by the XY Planning Network in September 2016.
Robert has authored three books — two of which were best-sellers — and written about marketing for many national publications and financial industry journals.