5 Solutions to Your Advisory Firm's Technology Struggles
5 Problems and 5 Tech Solutions learned at the T3 Tech Tools Conference
Numerous advisory firms are struggling with:
- Reducing the workload
- Climbing out of the “weeds” of operations
- Managing costs
- Finding more time to nurture relationships
- Managing staff
Although we know that best-used tech can be a very affordable solution to many of these issues, less than .10% of RIA firms attended T3, which is the most tech-heavy conference in the RIA industry. The great thing about T3 was the attendees were there to SOLVE their problems and finish researching solutions so they could IMPLEMENT.
For all those firms that didn’t go, we have summarized the 5 solutions that advisors learned. For those seeking a comprehensive review of T3 and all the tech providers, you can read Kitces article.
Key Lessons Learned at the T3 Tech Tools Conference:
- ROBO does not mean a robot is managing the clients’ portfolio. It could mean that the client is emailed a website URL link to paperwork that they can fill out online and e-sign. It could mean that the client is emailed a URL link to a risk questionnaire and once completed, auto-chooses the investments that you already researched and choose. Or it could mean that your client portal contains a few links to questionnaires and paperwork to complete. ROBO is an automated workflow and it comes in all shapes and sizes.
- PFM Personal Financial Management is the tech tool that allows consumers to enter the login and password to their checking, mortage, investment, and other asset and liability accounts. A PFM auto-produces the most current Net Worth Statement.
- Appointment schedulers don’t require you to publicize your calendar on your website nor do they require every person be forced to use the URL link to schedule time with you. This tech allows you to provide someone several options for reaching you on the phone or in person. It makes you more accessible.
- Client portals aren’t required for clients to use. They are one of the many options you provide to people that want 24/7 access to their financial statements, net worth, estate documents, commentary, and more. And the contents of the portal is important so choose the portal that provides the information that your clients value the most.
- Workflows are not scary but rather a necessity. Workflows are just written processes that guide people on what to do, when, and how. So many firms avoid writing out their workflows as they are scared to see what their gut knows – inefficiencies and time wasters. We coached several firms to get over their fear and wipe board the workflow of one problematic area of their business. Just like magic, light bulbs went on. The inefficiencies were so glaring that it was easy to identify tech solutions to reduce the pain.
So where to you go from here? Seeking operational excellence? Drop us a line by connecting HERE
The New Brand Differentiators Are Operations and Logistics
Operations and logistics are frequently viewed as secondary functions that can be handled by someone else. But here’s the thing: With data so richly available, using it to help reinvent operations and logistics can help you stand out just as much as the next electric car or purple cow.
Just take a look at some of the world leaders in business.
Amazon, Uber, Airbnb, and other sharing sites are turning their industries around with structural and operational changes that challenge old paradigms. It’s not the products or services that stand out but the operations, logistics, and method of delivery.
For example, Amazon does not just succeed on lower prices or by offering different products than their competitors. They have revolutionized, simplified, and automated ordering, customer service, distribution, and warehousing.
The results have been staggering. It’s estimated that in 2016, they represent about 30-40% of internet retail sales and 8-10% of total retail sales.
Operations Innovation Isn’t Just For The Big Businesses
You might be thinking, “But that’s for the big businesses. How can that help my small business?”
Changing operational paradigms is for small businesses, too! Take a look at GrubHub. They are a publicly traded company, but think of whom they help: restaurants, big and small. They’ve helped thousands of restaurants expand their sales by providing seamless delivery.
Outsourcing key activities like web design, social media, cloud services, CRM, and even distribution have become both less complicated and more affordable.
No matter the size of your business, you can streamline or maximize your operations to take your sales and profits to a whole new level. The key is maximizing forecasting, inventory control, and distribution to maximize service, investment return, sales, and profitability.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Many operations experts say that 80% of sales are with 20% of your products. It’s often true, yet suppliers continue to proliferate styles, colors, sizes, models, and features to presumably serve more customers and provide more features. By keeping it simple, you help yourself and your customers.
- Pursue profit and not volume. Businesses frequently fail by adding too many stores, products, and marketing. In contrast, focusing on competitiveness, bestsellers, reducing costs, and reducing structure can have huge payoffs.
- Conduct a simple “SWOT” analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) to get a perspective on your business. The surprising aspect of this exercise is that we frequently take our strengths and opportunities for granted rather than maximizing them. For example, approaching key and repeat customers usually presents the greatest opportunity, lowest cost, and most profitable source of additional sales.
- Encourage testing new ideas and scrapping ones that don’t work. You will make mistakes. Focus on solving them rather than blaming someone. Consider using the process of develop, test, measure, and adapt. The measure step is, by the way, the most frequently forgotten.
It’s easy to get seduced by design, marketing, or the next flashy idea. Plenty of businesses innovate in these areas. Don’t forget, though, that just as frequently, success comes from innovation in operation and logistics.
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