It’s been a while since we experienced the level of market volatility that occurred in the first quarter of 2018. But the market’s recent volatility gives advisors a new reason to evaluate how their technology performs in periods of turmoil.
The first question to ask is how well has your “dashboard” helped you stay informed during market volatility? Your dashboard might gather information from multiple solutions — such as your rebalancing system, performance reporting system, risk measurement products, financial planning tools and custodian applications — or it also could be sourced from just one or two primary solutions.
The key question is: Do you have efficient access to the information needed to help you better respond to the changing market environment? The information may have led you to stay put and make no changes at all, but your dashboard of information should support your course of action.
Of course, if you don’t have a dashboard with easy access to information, you have an improvement opportunity. You can consider new solutions, especially if you have gaps in the list of products mentioned above. Or maybe you already have the right systems but are not using them to their fullest extent.
Bottom line, efficient access to information should not be a challenge in any market environment. You certainly have numerous other items that require your time and attention.
In today’s world of easy access to information, volatility certainly has captured lots of headlines. Many advisors have sent out client communications, offering their perspectives on the market environment.
In reviewing your communications, how are you involving technology solutions? Have you reminded and encouraged clients to review their financial plan, risk tolerance and investment allocation? Have you asked clients to let you know if they have questions or concerns?
Your firm likely has spent a lot of time, effort and money on these technology solutions that are directly used by your clients. Perhaps the best “return” for these products from a client service/retention perspective might occur during a volatile market environment.
How do you know if your clients were concerned about the market volatility? Is this based on the number of phones calls or emails you receive? Both are certainly good metrics to use.
However, you also should track any behavior changes in clients’ use of your technology solutions. For example, did they log-in more frequently vs. other time periods? It is not necessarily a bad sign if your client is logging-in more often (and not calling you), although, this is good information for you to know. You might even be surprised about the level of client activity.
Market volatility can take place at any time. Thus, there’s always a chance you could be out of the office when the next cycle of market volatility occurs. It is in these situations when your technology is tested.
Can you efficiently access all the information you need and act when you are not sitting at your desk? With today’s technology solutions, the answer should be “yes.” You might not think that this is a big deal, but it is best to know the answer to this question in advance.
Finally, during periods of market volatility it’s important to remain focused on following your procedures for processing trades, especially when rebalancing. Write them down and rehearse them during quieter times.
These procedures should help your staff to be extra careful and ultimately to avoid making any errors. Unfortunately, a typo in a ticker symbol, addition of an extra zero to a share quantity or miscalculation of a rebalancing parameter can be very costly when the market is moving quickly.
Dan Skiles is the president of Shareholders Service Group in San Diego. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.