While using technology to enhance an advisory firm’s client experience is important, it’s also crucial to figure out how to best use technology to increase the productivity of a firm’s advisors and employees. (See Part I of this tech-focused blog for more details).
As with any new technology, the key to enhancing productivity is first knowing how you want the new technology to help your staff.
For most advisors, this isn’t easy because it requires, in part, a basic knowledge of what today’s newest technology can do.
To get this information, you have two choices.
First, you can spend a lot of time consuming research; talking to other advisors, your custodian and/or broker-dealer; reading industry publications; and attending industry conferences and workshops.
Or, second, you can work with a technology consultant who specializes in the independent advisory industry. I strongly recommend working with one of these pros.
It’s their job to keep up on the latest technology. Plus, they work with many businesses like yours, they have experience with solutions that do — and don’t — work.
Whether you hire a tech consultant or not, once you’ve decided on a new tech platform, you still need to do some of your own research.
At a minimum, get a list of other firms that use the same platform and don’t be shy about talking about how those platforms are working out for them, how difficult the platforms were to integrate with other technology, what they learned from their experiences with the platforms, and what they’d do differently if they had it to do all over again.
At the same time — and I can’t emphasize this enough — include your partners and employees in decisions being made about new technology.
I’ve seen lots of messes that needed cleaning up after firm owners made tech decisions on their own and then forced these decisions onto employees.
Remember, we’re talking about enhancing employee productivity. Doesn’t that suggest that getting some input from your employees might be a good idea?
As a firm owner, you don’t always have to take your employees’ suggestions. However, to be a successful owner, you always need to listen.
When it comes to new tech, it’s a good idea to get some feedback from the folks who are going to use it. Include some, or even all, of your employees in tech demos and sales presentations.
Also, encourage them to talk with employees at firms that use the same technology. They will undoubtedly ask questions and get feedback — both good and bad — that you never could. Thus, it’s sure to be helpful if you listen carefully to what they say.
Furthermore, don’t forget to ask about — and to explore — the training and support you and your team will be getting from the tech company or consultant you are planning to work with. The best technology in the world is useless if your people don’t know how to use its powerful functionality.
Finally, before you buy any new tech platform, take all the information you’ve collected from your vendor, consultant, employees and other advisors who use it and create a formal plan of how this new tech is going to increase the productivity of your business.
It’s easy to get seduced by all the amazing things that cutting-edge tech can do. But if all that great functionality doesn’t help you and your staff work better, more efficiently or hopefully both, you’re just wasting your money — and it’s likely to be a lot of money.