Practice - Technology
Using Technology to Improve Work-Life Balance
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
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MIAMI – This is not your father’s wealth management business.

Gone are the days of working in an office Monday through Friday from 9 to 5. Jim Dario, a managing director of product and strategy at TD Ameritrade Institutional, said clients expect 24/7 attention from their financial advisor, and advisors need to find the right technology tools to streamline their process while still managing to enjoy their life, home, hobbies and family.

“By setting up associates with the right mobile tools and giving them the opportunity to work from home, clients will receive the level of service they are expecting,” Dario said in an interview Tuesday at the Technology Tools for Today conference.

For true productivity, Dario said it is critical for advisors to “work on their time.”

“Gen X and Gen Y advisors are just as committed to working hard as their parents were, but they don’t want to do it confined to a brick and mortar office,” he said.

Dario said technology can enable advisors to “work 24/7 without being in the office 24/7.”

Communication Tools

Armed with the right communication tools, Dario said advisors can facilitate webinars using video conference and “really be mobile on a daily basis.”

“The right communication tools can enable advisors to build tighter relationship with clients,” he said. “Advisors have to warm up to Skyping with clients. … The days of quarterly meetings in an office are over. Clients want more frequent interactions with their financial advisors.”

Dario said few advisors have truly embraced Skype or WebEx’s mobile capabilities, but he expects that will change over the course of the next few years.

CRM

A great client relationship management system enables advisors to both run and grow their business. Dario said most advisors are using a CRM, but few are really utilizing all of its capabilities.

For example, Dario said most CRMs have the capability to help advisors automate their referral process, but few advisors are really taking advantage of this.

Improved data mining can lead to better clients and more referrals. Dario said advisors can pair their CRM with a sales database to improve the number of referrals that they generate.

“In the past, most advisors thought about applying technology as a way to solve an efficiency issue,” he said. “But advisors need to think beyond efficiency and begin using technology to set themselves up for growth.”

Look for Innovation

Dario said advisors need to explore new technology offerings to discover how they can augment and enhance their business.

For example, Dario said, companies like Financial Logix and inStream has developed platform that provides alerts to advisors when clients have life changing events. These alerts enable advisors to “think more holistically” and adjust a financial plan as their clients’ lives change “rather than after the fact.”

Practice What Your Preach

“Work-life balance” is more than just industry jargon for TD Ameritrade. Dario, who joined TD Ameritrade in September, said he told Tom Nally, the president of TD Ameritrade Institutional, when he was interviewing for his position that he wasn’t interested in moving from his home in Boston.

“I was surprised,” Dario said, “Tom told me, ‘I don’t care where you live.’”

Dario said Nally and TD Ameritrade are focused on creating a “virtual office environment and managing a virtual team.”

“We have a weekly staff meeting that features executives from Omaha, San Diego, Dallas, Jersey City, N.J., Boston and Denver,” Dario said. “With the right technology and video conferencing, we are all connected as one management team. … This approach is a good one and it has trickled down to all of our associates.”

Dario, who worked at Pershing and Fidelity before joining TD, said advisors have to “build the right culture around tech-savvy folks that can be happy working no matter where they work from.”

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