The results of Financial Planning’s 2015 tech survey show that many firms aren’t particularly thoughtful or sophisticated when it comes to their technology purchasing decisions.
More than half the 600 financial advisors surveyed (54.2%) said that cost is how they determine the return on investment of their tech purchases.
Multiple responses were allowed for this question, so on a more promising note, 51.4% said that time savings was a determining factor. Staff feedback (39.4%) was another popular evaluation method.
Just 8.5% said that they do any sort of formal ROI analysis, however.
Perhaps more troubling, 32% said that they don’t perform any ROI evaluation at all.
There also seems to be a disconnect between advisors’ tech goals and their tech behavior.
When asked which tech goals are most important, increasing profitability/efficiency was the top choice, followed by enhancing the client experience/satisfaction.
However, without a formal ROI analysis, how do these advisors know whether the tech purchases are actually providing the necessary profitability and efficiency boost? It should be clear to anyone with a financial background that cost alone is probably not the best determinant of ROI.
Although firms appear to factor cost heavily into tech purchasing decisions, they seem somewhat more willing to spend than before.
Thirty-one percent of advisors said that they plan to spend 6% to 10% of their revenue on technology this year.
Another 31% said that they will spend 1% to 5% of revenue.
And 19.3% said that their information technology spending this year would be up by 5%, while 19.4% said that it would grow by 10%, and 7.8% said that it would increase 15%.
There was more of the projected 10% and 15% growth in the independent registered investment advisor market than in others surveyed. It isn’t clear whether this is because RIAs shoulder a larger tech spending burden than others or because they are responding faster to changes in the tech landscape.
When asked what their next tech purchase was likely to be, 29.5% of those surveyed said new computers.
This should come as no surprise.
Last year, 56% of respondents said that they were still using Windows 7 computers, 12.4% were using Windows XP and 4.7% were using Windows VISTA.
The latter two are obsolete by any measure, and Windows 7 soon will be.
Most advisors refused to move to Windows 8 due to real or perceived weaknesses in the operating system. Windows 10 has received a much warmer welcome from the tech community.
Improved security, new functionality, touch screens and the latest generation of hardware all suggest that this is an excellent time for advisors to retire those old Windows computers in favor of the latest models.
Read more about the tech survey tomorrow, when we look at social media.
Joel Bruckenstein, a Financial Planning columnist in Miramar, Fla., is co-creator of the Technology Tools for Today conference series and technology guides for advisors, including Technology Tools for Today’s High-Margin Practice. For more information, visit JoelBruckenstein.com.
This story is part of a 30-day series on leading tech trends for advisors. It was originally published on Dec. 1, 2015.