Advisors are focused on technology ROI in 2010. As many advisory firms emerge from the bruising bear markets of 2008-2009, they are looking for ways to become more efficient and optimize their use of technology to streamline their operations.
According to a recent TD Ameritrade Institutional RIA Sentiment survey(1)
, over 60% of advisory firms will be increasing their investments in technology in 2010. The top areas of focus include:
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· Portfolio Management and Performance Reporting
· Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
· Compliance Management
With the features, benefits and horsepower of these critical operational systems increasing every year, advisors need to have a solid plan in place to ensure they are getting the most bang for their buck.
How can you do that? Well, from our experience in working with hundreds of advisors and the leading technology vendors, the key is to not just focus on the technology, but to focus on your people and process first.
Key to driving success in a technology implementation is to involve your staff in the process by creating clear job descriptions so that everyone knows their roles in managing the business processes that are core to your operations. By having a clear direction for your staff and institutionalizing how things are done, then the aspects of various business processes that can be automated by technology reveal themselves and help in the technology purchase decision.
Additionally, defining business processes upfront, prior to buying technology, will go a long way for synching up the business need with the capabilities of the new system you are considering. For example, if you are looking to streamline the new account opening process, you can start simply by using sticky notes to build a diagram of the workflow that goes into each step of opening a new account. Are aspects of the process repeatable and scalable? If so, then technology can be a solution to automate those processes and will give you a clear picture of the features and functionality you need from a specific technology application.
From this up front work with your staff and defining your business processes first, now you’re ready to begin evaluating which specific technology product and vendor will be the best solution.
Create a checklist of the features you will require and also consider what your future needs will be as you grow, such as flexibility in adding new licenses or scalability in the system to adding new users and managing higher volumes. As a next step, think about the compatibility of the new system with the other software that you use. Do they need to be integrated, or can they co-exist side by side?
As a last approach, take a look at your current technology and see if you and your staff are using it to its highest and best use. Are there features that you are not aware of that can solve what you are looking for? Does your staff need to be better trained on how to optimize the system? For answers to these questions, you can look to your current vendors and stay up to date with recent upgrades, training programs and current product information, as well as network with other advisors, technology consultants and custodians to learn the latest.
Follow these simple steps by looking to your people and processes first and then you will be driving a substantial ROI from your technology.
George Tamer, Director, Strategic Relationships, TD AMERITRADE Institutional
(1) A random sample of five hundred and seven (507) RIAs participated in a telephone survey between December 2 -17, 2009.
TD AMERITRADE, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. This is not an offer or solicitation in any jurisdiction where we are not authorized to do business. Past performance of a security does not guarantee future results. All investments are subject to investment risk, including possible loss of the principal invested.