When I started my career more than 30 years ago as an advisor, or brokers, as we were called then, I considered myself fairly technology-savvy.

I understood then that in order to grow and create scale in my business, I had to embrace the leading-edge technology of the day.

Leading-edge back then was represented by my Compaq portable computer (it was the size of a large electric typewriter and weighed 30 pounds), a dot matrix Epson printer, Lotus 123 (the predecessor to Excel) and Broker’s Ally as the start-of-the-art customer relationship system. Times and technologies have changed but not the idea that every successful wealth management business should become tech-enabled.

As we end 2017 and look to 2018, here are three ideas on how to incorporate technology into the practice to create scale and efficiency.

1. A truly integrated technology platform. Many firms are using a CRM system, financial planning software, custodial platform and reporting system, to name a few. In many cases, these tech platforms exist in their own silos and do not pass or share vital information about clients and the business between the platforms in an integrated fashion. Building these pathways between these integral technologies will help the firm better understand clients, provide greater detail and information to the firm’s staff members and allow the firm to perform essential analytics on the business. Data rules!

2. The right CRM system. Many advisors have a CRM system, but has it been customized for the practice, or is it an off-the-shelf version? In addition, is the firm using the CRM system to improve operational efficiencies and provide vital reporting about the business? There are many great CRM programs out there, but in many cases using an off-the-shelf version becomes too confusing and eventually ineffective. There are many companies whose sole function is to customize a firm’s CRM system to meet its unique needs, requirements and workflows. Included in these capabilities are highly customized reports generated from the data stored in the CRM system. This allows the advisor to get greater visibility into what drives the business, which helps with better decision making.

3. Incorporate a digital marketing platform into electronic marketing efforts. This is a digital age, which means that most advisors are using some form of digital marketing. There are many platforms out there, such as Pardot and Vestorly, that help advisors add scale and leverage to their marketing efforts, along with vitals statistics on what is working and not working. In addition to these marketing software options, I strongly recommend exploring platforms such as LinkedIn to connect with potential clients and prospects. It is the definition of leveraged marketing. Specialists at LinkedIn are ready to assist users in this effort.

We have only scratched the technology surface for 2018. Regardless of whether advisors were naughty or nice this year, they should put technology on the holiday wish list for next year. Happy holidays!

Ed Friedman is director of strategic relationships at Dynasty Financial Partners in New York.

This story is part of a 30-30 series on how technology is changing your practice.

Ed Friedman

Ed Friedman

Ed Friedman is director of strategic relationships at Dynasty Financial Partners. He leads the company's ongoing partnerships with its Dynasty Network advisers.