How to get the timing of your tech update right

Register now

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that the key is to stay nimble, adaptive, and be prepared for unexpected change.

This year has caused financial services firms to rethink business models, client communication channels and business development tactics. As we change and adapt to the new norm, it’s crucial that our technology evolve and grow along with our business.

By now, most advisors have figured out the digital tools needed to run a practice virtually and keep costs down during a period of slower revenue, but that doesn’t mean firms can rest on their recent tech decisions. Evaluating current technology, learning about new advancements and thinking about when to upgrade should be a continual process.

Most firms usually include a review of their technology needs during the same time the budgets are created. But consider conducting a quarterly or even monthly evaluation to make sure the tech is doing the job it is expected to do; understand everything about the existing tech to maximize utilization; and research the marketplace for the latest trends and products.

Having a regular, frequent analysis of technology can significantly decrease the time it takes to get from point A to point B in your business cycle.

When is the right time to make a change?

Depending on the size of the firm, there are different indicators for determining the right time to make a change. For example, if growth is the focus, consider a more robust technology that will serve the future number of employees. Using indicators like AUM or number of clients can also help the decision on technology needs.

At home and not going back: Most advisors don’t plan to return to the office full time
The majority of planners intend to work remotely at least one day per week through 2021.

If efficiency is the goal, can new technology help employees complete daily tasks faster and free up time to take on other responsibilities? Can it boost the overall business and save money? Spending $25,000 a year on technology may be more efficient than hiring an administrator for a $50,000 salary.

More than anything, listen to both employees and clients. If there are complaints about processes taking too long or other inefficiencies, then it’s probably time to make a change. If everyone is quiet and all seems well, then be proactive and seek out opinions on the current technology. Waiting for complaints might be too late if employees and clients are so upset that they’re heading for the exits.

How to help employees and advisors transition?

Once a technology change has been decided, the company will typically provide a rep who can help with training and onboarding. Having experts on hand to help the entire firm work through the process smoothly is beneficial, so building a relationship with the rep shouldn't be overlooked.

Stay up to date on the vendor’s blogs and corporate communications. Sign up for its newsletter. Oftentimes, these resources are packed with helpful tips and strategies to ensure advisors are getting the most out of the technology.

At the end of the day, what’s most important is that firms continue to adapt and evolve. Avoid getting bogged down with a “this is the way it has always been done” mentality. The global pandemic has taught us that things can change at a moment's notice — so we must be ready to change with it.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.
Technology Fintech Budgets Practice management INVEST West 2020