Choosing software and keeping up with the changes in technology is a rabbit hole down which advisors can waste a lot of time. Some advisors have no interest in software, only turning their attention to it when they have no other option. Other advisors are technically inclined and spend a lot of time on it – often at the expense of prospecting or interacting with clients. As always, the right approach is somewhere in the middle.
I have found that there are a few rules of thumb that can guide you to this middle ground.
1. Make the most out of what you have.
There is an old adage that when you use word processing software, you use about 5% of its capability. This doesn’t stop Microsoft from bringing out new versions with ever-more-esoteric features.
The same is true of advisor software – CRM is a good example. The core function of a CRM is the storage of client contact information. But are you also using it for client notes, client segmentation, client touch campaigns, prospecting and workflows? It doesn’t cost you anything extra to implement more of the software, and you would still only be using about 30% of its capabilities!
2. Train your people regularly.
It is easy to become stuck in the day-to-day and not realize that your firm is not using your existing software well. The good news is that most software vendors are trying to make sure that their software is actually well used, as it leads to adoption and “stickiness” for them. As a result, many firms will provide free or inexpensive training. This is also a great way for staff to get out of the office and see what other firms are doing.
3. Use technology consistently.
A common approach is for one advisor to access software and then devise their own ways of using it, while another advisor uses it completely differently. While this may seem ideal for those specific individuals, it does not push the firm forward. New people coming into the firm have no clear, consistent way of being trained. If there is consistency, training can then be performed by several people, depending on who is available.
4. Don’t just grab the shiny toy – do your homework.
If, in a study group or at a conference, advisors learn about software that they do not have, some find it impossible to not pick up the phone the next day to buy a license. FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) is a rampant advisor disease!
As previously mentioned, software can be used differently by different advisors. What is good for one can be a waste of time for another. The best approach can be to ask 3 basic questions as you assess the software:
- Will it help bring in new clients?
- Will it make my current clients more satisfied?
- Will it make my firm more efficient (save me time)?
There are obviously nuances, but it is really that simple.
5. Make someone the Chief Technology Officer (CTO)
If you are a solo practitioner, then tag – you are it! If there are several people in a firm, crown one as the CTO. It is the CTO’s role to come up with a technology plan (and expenditure) for the year and then devise a tactical way that software and hardware is supported. If a coronation does not occur, then often a firm’s software becomes out of date, as no one pays attention to it.
I’m sure that there are others, but I’ve seen two types of people given the CTO role:
- An advisor who happens to be computer literate. Just be careful in this case to not spend too much time on the technology
- A young hire who has grown up with technology and who naturally assumes the role
Whilst there is no substitute for trying software yourself, a way that you can winnow down the number of your trial licenses is to first read the annual technology reviews that different industry organizations produce. I wrote about two of the better annual reviews in my last post.
Best practices should prevail
This post is what I would call a common-sense post. None of the observations are radical; they are best practice. But, as you look back on these five rules of thumb, I’d be surprised if your firm checks of all the boxes.
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