Advisors are frustrated by a lack of technology integration, but most continue to use a large number of vendors and systems, according to a survey by SEI.

When asked what aspect of technology they find the most challenging, advisors surveyed said that integrating various systems and software remained a top concern. While 61% conceded that their technology would be easier to manage if they streamlined services, only 7% said their technology tools and software are fully integrated.

The survey, which polled nearly 250 advisors, also addressed areas of infrastructure, purchasing patterns, and plans for the future, in addition to the benefits and challenges of technology. Sixty-six percent of advisors surveyed said technology has been mostly beneficial to their firms’ operational efficiency, but most believe there is still room to improve. Eighty-six percent said that there are aspects of their firms handled manually that could be done more simply through better use of technology.
 
On the topic of integration, respondents pointed to better end-to-end processes as the most likely benefit (39%), followed by improved client experience (33%). When asked the most important benefit of integration for clients, respondents pointed to better reporting most often (25%), followed by a better website experience (23%).  
 
When asked where they are currently using technology to improve business practices, those advisors surveyed pointed to financial planning most often (77%), followed by CRM (74%), and document management (56%). Sixty-six percent said they knew “enough to get by” when asked about their levels of comfort with their firms’ technology. Twenty-seven percent said they were “pros.”  
 
“In the last decade, advisors have embraced technology and experienced the business benefits but they realize integration offers a whole new level of value for them and their clients,” said Steve Onofrio, the managing director of SEI Advisor Network.  “Unfortunately, as the survey demonstrates, while most advisors see the benefits of integration, very few have actually been able to achieve it. We believe advisors who use integrated technology solutions will be the most successful going forward.”
 
“Most advisors will admit they’re not techies, but the business benefits of technology are impossible to ignore,” said Steve Zimmerman, President of  VF Investment Services Corp. in Wayne, PA. “Unfortunately, many of us have become our own worst enemies as we keep adding technologies to the mix in search of more efficiency. What’s becoming clear is that no matter how many systems we bolt on, we’ll never achieve the ROI we’re looking for unless those systems can work together in an integrated way.”
 
When asked about the likelihood of future technology investment, 73% said there is at least a moderate probability they will purchase some sort of new technology in the next 12 months.