Is the phone you're using the same one you had just five years ago? So why would you think the technology installed in your practice in 2011 is still up-to-date?

Getting over the mental block toward adoption is part of the challenge in keeping your practice tech-savvy, says Eric Kies, chief compliance officer at The Planning Center, where his Moline, Ill.-based colleagues manage $520 million in assets,

Kies says staying relevant for clients is at the forefront of the firm’s mission. Right now, this means using systems and software such as Salesforce, Orion and MoneyguidePro and it also means gauging clients’ comfort level with technology and adjusting accordingly.

As part of our ongoing conversation with advisors about technology, Kies provides Re: Invent|Wealth with his take on how the business is evolving and the challenge to keep up.

"I think many people get a new system or piece of software or an app, and use it for basic functionality, and never really take the time to develop a deep understanding of what the system is capable of," he says.

What has the firm’s technology experience been since implementing AdvisorMart back in 2000?

Like with most firms, technology has been a work in progress over a long period of time. One of the key components of the culture inside the firm is that we’re always striving to innovate in the service of our clients. There is a different generation of client talking to a  different generation of financial planner about a pool of money that was planned a long time ago. In order for that to happen, we have to stay on top of trends or become obsolete.

What does the technology do that couldn’t otherwise happen?

We have several offices around the country, so part of the reason we wanted to have a good portion of our technology on the web is that it makes it much easier to work from multiple locations or remotely. The more efficient a system becomes, the more time it frees us up; the less time we can spend on administrative tasks the better. Things continue to evolve and change and what was cutting it 5-10 years ago isn’t anymore.

How does the technology shape the quality of your client interaction?

We can make it a really interactive learning opportunity. The more that we can get them to participate, not only in just a conversation about life, but to dive into financial planning and understand and be part of that process, the more effective we’ll be as planners in helping them improve their lives.

What are some challenges or obstacles?

User adoption rate can vary greatly. Some people embrace change, other resist. Some users are very tech savvy and others are tech averse. This applies to employees and clients. It can be a challenge to get from the idea phase to consistent implementation from the end user, simply because of the end user themselves.

It also seems that very few people want to dedicate the time, energy and resources to develop mastery.  This applies to technology in that I think many people get a new system or piece of software or an app, and use it for basic functionality, and never really take the time to develop a deep understanding of what the system is capable of, how to apply that capability to their work, to build efficiencies and more effective methodologies, etcetera. It seems like people are hopping from solution to solution, rather than mastering the solution that they began with in the hopes that there is some sort of silver bullet out there.

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