While advisors are very busy people, they have much to gain by taking the time to try out new technology resources, according to a group of female advisors with Raymond James.
“All of us are going a 1,000 miles an hour. It’s hard to stop and learn new things,” said Laura Steckler, a certified financial planner and employee advisor with Raymond James & Associates, during the firm’s recent Women’s Symposium in Orlando.
“It seems like there’s no time to look, but I encourage you to do so … ,” Steckler said to a crowd of more than 420 female advisors and 300 other guests. “Try something out, even for a five-minute test drive. It will save you time and [help you with] efficiency and building best practices.”
Kimberlee Bouska, CFP, an advisor with the firm’s Financial Institutions Division in Beaverton, Oregon, said her team wanted to resolve “a hole” in the planning process.
“We’d bring on clients, but not see them for a while,” Bouska said. “Let’s have a new 90-day review process, we thought, that integrates with [the] Client Access [platform].”
Her group now has “a big screen on the wall,” and [clients] use a mouse to move around information and features. “They work with paperless statements, the goals tab and planing [functions] they can see,” the advisor said.
As clients add information about their non-Raymond James accounts to Client Access, for instance, advisors are able to analyze more assets, weave their thinking into client conversations and potentially move these assets over to Raymond James, Bouska points out.
“As we’ve heard [at another meeting], ‘Either you will aggregate [business] or you will be aggregated,” said Salit Nagy-Todd, senior vice president of technology.
“We have so much technology out there and so much of it is cutting edge. Yet at conferences we see people not familiar with it,” Nagy-Todd explained. “You can become a center of excellence, and we have folks to help.”
Though new technology might seem daunting, it’s worth the effort, says Amanda Piper, an independent advisor and member of Raymond James’ Next Gen Technology Group: “Just try it. I call and [talk to] our tech folks as needed … Don’t panic. Just start.”
Tech on the Go
Steckler is a big fan and adopter/influencer of Raymond James’ Advisor Mobile application.
“It is one of the most practical, best things rolled out by firm,” she explained. “It lets advisors have an incredible amount of increased efficiency and access. I use it dozens of times a day — in and out of the office.”
A common question the advisor is asked: Why use it in the office?
Steckler says Advisor Mobile gives her quick access to birth dates, client accounts, contact information and portfolio details, for instance. “I can pull up allocations, which is very helpful given recent volatility, and I can look at [a client’s] risk level and comfort levels,” she explained.
The audio functions are very useful, according to Steckler. “It’s an efficient tool for me, since I can dictate notes to clients and save them in the CRM,” she said.
For instance, the advisor said, “I can access notes or emails that [refer to] a family goal that was mentioned three years ago.” She also adds notes, emails and other information she has gathered remotely about new goals to her CRM.
By using Advisor Mobile, “It takes me a fraction of time to dictate a note and post it in Client Review rather than taking the time to do this manually,” she explained.
Steckler said this process was shown to her by Raymond James’ tech team, and she was told, “It would change my life.”
“Now, people I show this to say that to me!” she said. “I demoed this for at least 12 people after a recent presentation, because I’m excited about the functionality and use. It really revolutionized the way I work on a daily basis.”
She uses Advisor Mobile this way “even when I’m at my desktop.”
A client might ask how risky his or her portfolio is, “and I could see their exposure in seconds.” This means she can do a transfer of assets quickly — without waiting for a day.
“One client said, ‘Let’s do a transfer,’ while I was driving,” Steckler explained, adding that the technology allows her to assign tasks, write notes and move items to the CRM — all in sync while she is in the car, for example.
“I really encourage [advisors] to check it out. Test it. It’s easy, and you will be amazed at the time saving,” she said.
Bouska’s clients also use the Raymond James’ Vault, an online document-management system, she said, “which is great.”
Steckler — who is based in Coral Gables, Florida — agrees, explaining that she encourages clients to upload documents to Vault as a way to plan for emergencies like hurricanes. “We talk about Vault all the time and make its [usefulness] very, very real life,” she said.
“A good amount of our 300 households have or are uploading documents to Vault,” Steckler added. This includes estate paperwork, deeds to property, insurance contracts, Social Security cards, birth certificates, health care documents and the like.
“We offer to do this uploading and scanning [work] for them as a courtesy …,” the advisor said. “Clients appreciate this, so they have access to digital copies of their documents no matter where they are.”
Clients who had health care or other emergencies, for example, have been vocal about how much they appreciate the Vault service. “It really does resonate with people,” she explained.
Helping Clients & Advisors
Piper says she took the time to review Raymond James’ Product Catalog application, which paid off: “It’s my new home for all things investing — funds, securities, Morningstar ratings, returns and more.”
Her team puts together its own models and portfolios, which it customizes using “gazillions of ETFs” and other products, Piper explains. “As we add a client, we can see what they have [already in their portfolio] and then compare that with what we are using,” she said.
“By using Product Catalog, we can figure out what makes sense for the portfolio … by looking at all the data together and seeing it quickly all at once,” the advisor shared.
“It is not just for investment management folks. My office manager says she uses it … and it has a button for recommended conversions that saves time and … gets clients cheaper share classes faster,” she said.
When it comes to a “wish list” for Raymond James’ technology, “When I make a suggestion, it will be heard and seriously considered,” Steckler said.
For example, she recently suggested that the firm launch a new app to help advisors and clients schedule meetings. “This could save advisors hours and hours,” Steckler explained, adding “If I can schedule a haircut online why not this?”
The app will also send out meeting reminders. “It will create efficiency. I cannot wait to get it. It should free up six to eight hours a month,” which can be used to check in with clients about issues other than meeting times.
According to Nagy-Todd, “We are working on it. We want [to give advisors] building blocks, not just new bells and whistles.”
“How many of you would use this?” Steckler asked the crowd assembled in Orlando. The audience responded enthusiastically.