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When is it time to sever a tech relationship?


Hint: Make sure vendors follow your roadmap, says Carson Group President Teri Shepherd. Plus: Keeping diverse employees engaged and why the best growth strategies include losing some client services.

Before picking a tech vendor for your firm, you might want to have a chat with Carson Group President Teri Shepherd, who speaks with the benefit of hard-earned experience.

“We’ve stumbled along the way,” she says. “Vendors promise you the world. … [But] they are just there to make some money, provide the lowest level of service and then leave.”

Shepherd now makes sure such relationships are characterized by mutual commitment.

“We want to have partnerships,” she tells Editor-in-Chief Chelsea Emery in this Financial Planning podcast. “We want you to come in and be part of our ecosystem. We tell [vendors], ‘Here’s our roadmap, here’s where we’re going, here’s what we need from you along the way.’ We want that level of service and that interaction.” Without that committment, Shepherd says, it's time to move on.

Since joining Carson Group in 2012, Shepherd has focused on boosting the firm’s productivity by making savvy tech investments, dropping services that clients say are not useful and improving diversity among Carson’s employees. In her free time, she climbs mountains with her family and has el Capitan on her bucket list.


“As you grow as a company, you have to have metrics that you grow to,” she says. “Do you want better products? Better client satisfaction? Stay true to who you are because you’ll have better productivity because you’re doing what you do best.”

Note: Since this conversation was recorded, Shepherd was promoted to president of Carson Group and is no longer chief operating officer. She does, however, still climb mountains. Please click on the image above to hear the interview, which has been edited for clarity and flow.