Much thought and effort goes into the overall operational structure of a good advisory firm. Common terms used in our profession include, do you operate as a solo advisor practice (silo type operating structure) or an ensemble advisor practice (team-based operating structure). When you think about these terms, how does it influence the approach to managing your technology solutions? The answer for a number of firms really depends on the specific technology solution involved, regardless of the operational structure of the firm.
But here are the ways that the structure of your firm affects your technology needs.
The first area to consider is to evaluate and determine whether your underlying technology solutions are designed for more of an ensemble or solo advisor practice environment.
Frequently, when we spend a lot of money on a technology solution, we expect that everyone in our firm will use it. However, that might not make the most sense, or it could be a big mistake, or it may not even be possible. For example, wanting everyone at your firm to use the Contact Relationship Manager program is a worthy goal, especially for a firm running an ensemble advisor practice where having shared data and tools is critical to serving the clients.
However, there are other technology solutions that are not designed for or simply can’t accommodate a “shared” or team-based user environment. This doesn’t mean it is a show-stopper for a firm to deploy a single-user solution, because, of course, deciding to use it would need to relate back to your requirements and expectations for the product and not just on the cost of it.
Your associates and their responsibilities are another important area that should directly influence how you deploy a technology solution. With today’s technology solutions, it is common for a product to be utilized across multiple departments, locations, roles, and positions. Even if the use of the product is different for each position, you may still have a shared experience through a single user interface and core foundational features.