Focus on Integration

This is a common mantra I use, and it has appeared throughout much of my commentary here on operations and technology. It came up again this week in discussions with some advisors who were considering technology investments - but looking at them each in independent silos rather than considering the entire view of their business process.

In many studies on financial practices, an area of weakness is practices that do not do a good job of identifying and measuring the performance of their business investments. It is ironic that many practices build their living around measuring their client's portfolio(s) performance.

There are two distinct steps to convert this weakness to a strength:

  1. Step back and assess your practice operations and technology as a whole - looking for areas where the processes intersect (be they automated or manual) - and grade your current environment on its ability to integrate together and automate as many manual steps as possible.
  2. Secondly, identify the metrics by which you can measure items like converting a manual task to an automated task - and what that is worth in dollars and cents.

Integration is all about eliminating redundant data entry, reducing the possibility of entry errors and creating consistency ion the records you store and interact with. This alone can often pay for technology investments. Integration is also about your practice team spending more time on the client's needs:

  • Building financial plan
  • Managing reporting data
  • Creating client review "decks" (the bundles of reports and other activities for client meetings)
  • and other service issues

In this sense, you can cultivate a smaller staff with sophisticated capabilities both in the technology world and the industry - rather than having a larger, lower-skilled team of processors. By the way - in most cases - you can take this latter team and evolve them into the efficient and advanced professionals. This adds value through longevity with your practice and in the deeper relationships they can forge over time with clients.

 

It all comes back to integration. Eliminating the need to shuffle data, papers, files and other information across desks by selecting technology tools that not only meet your requirements but have an open architecture to share data with the rest of your platform. 

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