I have to admit, I had high hopes for the discussion thread on oursourcing.  In fact, I envisioned dozens of advisors offering their own critique of firms that do the downloading and reconciliations for their Advent or PortfolioCenter systems, or the tedious job of inputting client data into NaviPlan, MoneyTree or MoneyGuidePro, or create client password-protected online document storage for performance statements, wills and life insurance policies, or do some of those really annoying compliance chores--or, well, a lot of things that are probably not your highest and best use in the office.

I think these peer-to-peer recommendations are extremely important.  And I'm disappointed that so few advisors chose to speak up on behalf of the vendor/service provider you're using.  The rest of the community really needs to know if you are (or are not) satisfied with the service you're receiving, and how it has (or has not) helped you focus on your direct client services.

Despite the sparse traffic, we HAVE managed to turn up a few valuable nuggets.  Michael Kitces, editor of The Kitces Report, pointed out that you can find a lot of outsource vendors and service providers in one place: the Virtual Solutions Consortium (www.virtualsolutionsconsortium.com).  One outsource provider who is not on this list is Back Office Solutions (www.backofficesolutions.net), which inputs client data into your financial planning program.  And Christopher Holtby of Midland Wealth Management offered two services that he uses and likes: B-Ready Outsource Solutions for portfolio performance reporting and reconciliation, and GS Compliance for compliance functions.  (Another up-and-coming firm in this compliance space is Hill Financial Advisors (www.hilladvisors.com/compliance-comp.htm), which handles completion of ComplianceMax monthly workbooks, IARD updates and compliance manuals.)

In my newsletter, I plan to evaluate the services of Syntax Research, which posted to talk about how it lets you outsource portfolio construction and risk management of client portfolios.  And in another posting, Orion Advisor Services offered an in-house analysis of the total all-in cost savings (including staff salaries, training and server costs, management time etc.) of outsourcing the downloading and reconciliation tasks involved in your client portfolio management activities.  (It's on the company's website: www.orionadvisor.com.) 

You can view this as clever marketing, if you want, but the analysis was created in conjunction with the organizers of the T3 conference (this year in Westin, FL, Feb. 16-19; https://www.regonline.com/builder/site/Default.aspx?EventID=864994), where it was repeatedly pointed out from the podium that most advisors don't consider a lot of other-than-staff-salary cost savings and benefits from outsourcing either to a service provider or (increasingly) to software tended off-site.  Some of the more detailed real-world analyses, as I've reported elsewhere, show astronomical rates of return north of 1,000% on the expenditure.

The bottom line here is that we seem to be entering into a new and uncharted business environment where a lot of staff functions can be almost completely replaced by computerized systems and procedures, and where specialized outsource expertise can replace staff generalists at a lower cost and far fewer management responsibilities. 

I hope, this week, that more of you will take a few moments to give a referral to an outsource provider who is doing a great job for you--just like you hope your clients will give YOU referrals when you're providing excellent service. 

While you're at it, ask about a reliable vendor for a chore that you'd like to get off your desk.  Why should your competitors be the only ones to get those 1,000% returns?

To give a referral to your outsource service, or join the discussion, click on the link below. 

If you have suggestions about other topics that the profession ought to be exploring, or great ideas for a group discussion, send me a message at: bob@bobveres.com

For a lot more information on practice marketing, practice management, client services, investment paradigms and other important issues for financial planners, go to: http://www.bobveres.com.