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Tricia Haskins, Fidelity Institutional 6/25/19
What's the best way advisors can keep up with an ever-changing technology landscape?
TRICIA HASKINS, vice president of digital strategy and platform consulting at Fidelity Institutional: Start with the end in mind, irrespective of what the solution is specifically. Start with the questions: What is that experience that you want to give to your end client? What information do you want to deliver to them? As you think about what makes you unique, how do you want to use technology to help deliver that? Whether it's your end client, whether it's your internal associates, think about delivering on your unfair advantage.
What’s the best way to keep up with what’s available?
Be curious. Do things like talk to different folks in your network. Go to conferences and see what's out there, see what people are thinking, read articles and try to understand what's going on. Even look outside this particular part of the industry.
How should RIAs decide whether a solution will be the right fit?
First, the features and functionality and how they address the needs of the firm. Number two, integrations. Ask yourself: what is the level of integration? Because there's a big difference between data feeds and a single sign on or real-time data. The third component is support and training, particularly as a lot of these firms move to cloud software as a service model. Things are changing all the time. The fourth one is an extension of that — the ongoing upgrades and commitment to continuing to innovate and add features. Are they really listening to their clients as they determine what the prioritization is? And then fifth — and in many ways the most important — is security.
What questions should advisors be asking about security?
About the controls in place — not just around the technology, but around the people who have access to the data. You have to understand what it is that those firms are doing to protect the security and confidentiality of your clients' data. How do they ensure that the right associates have the right access to information? What is their hiring process? Is the data moving from one system to another? And what are the controls in place to ensure that data is encrypted? What's the remediation and disaster recovery plan?

When Superstorm Sandy hit, there was a tremendous impact on a lot of firms. What were the firms’ backup plans? Where did they have an immediate failover?
How should advisors approach technology training?
It's really important to understand that changes are happening and training is not a one-and-done thing. When a new technology is implemented in a firm, you get that initial training, and that's great. But you're really only able to really take in and really understand maybe 20-30-40-50% of it, right? There's a whole set of features and functionality that you haven't been exposed to or used in your day-to-day. Advisors need to understand the commitment to continuous training.

The firm needs to be committed to ongoing training, adoption of the technology, and ensuring that all associates in the firm are staying up to date. It also requires that technology firms are continually letting you know as new updates happen. There are different ways: whether it's self directed training or a FAQ or whether it's onsite training or something.
What does ongoing mean? Once, twice a year, every other year?
It just becomes part of your DNA to stay up on the latest features. As you think about training, some of it is driven by new features and functionalities. If [their vendors] are agile, they're getting smaller releases more frequently. What I would say is encourage the associates to have that mindset of continuously learning. It's certainly not once a year. I would actually argue it’s ongoing.
Does this make a difference for attracting younger talent?
There’s a great example that I have. It’s one example, but it highlights the trend we’re seeing. There’s a firm that we work with, the founder of the firm … He is the epitome of the embracer. He was one of the first ones that I knew of who went totally paperless. He was [competing with another firm] to hire a young professional. [The founder’s] compensation was a bit lower, but the young professional decided to go with his firm because it used technology better. That associate was thinking: what is their day-to-day experience going to look like? How are they going to be able to [make] the time and the tools and exist within a culture that allows them to do their best work? Those are trends that we’re seeing.

Think about the kind of talent you want to bring in and how can you help them do the things you’re hiring them to do. This is one of the things that these young folks coming into the industry are looking at.