10 Tech New Year's Resolutions For Financial Advisors

The PC World list has some great ideas, but I came up with some resolutions just for advisors.

1. Create a Strategy. What are your tech goals for the year? If there are more goals than you can possibly accomplish, don't worry. First, get them all written out and out of your brain. Do you want a new CRM system? Do you need to replace computers? Do you have a security/malware/antivirus suite? Do you need a backup system? Write down all of your goals and then order them by importance.

2. Set Aside Money. Next to each of your goals, assign an estimated cost. Then, create a realistic budget. And don't be so cheap! You have to spend money to improve systems or else you are destined for mediocrity.

3. Hire A Consultant. If you know you won't follow through on your tech resolutions because you have never done so before, then admit it to yourself and hire a consultant. For $500 a month, you can bire a consiltant to make sure you get all of your tech goals accomplished in 2011. if that's what it takes to make sure you reach your tech goals, it's probably worthwhile because it will improve your efficiency, quality of service, and the way you feel about yourself. Check the Advisors4Advisors Consultants Directory to find a consultant

4. Write Down Your Processes. List the three most time-consuming, time-wasting tasks you and your staff must handle. Write down the workflow for each of these processes and the people involved. Embed them in your CRM. If you do not know how to create a workflow in your CRM, call the company and ask them to show you how to do it. Any of the advisor CRMs will be happy to help you or already has videos explaining how you can do this. If needed, scedule out working on one workflow a quarter, or get your tech consultant to embed each process in your CRM.

5. Stick With Apps That Do One Thing Great. A Swiss Army knife is great for small chores. However, a wine connoisseur is unlikely to use the Swiss Army knife’s corkscrew to open a $400 bottle, a woman probably isn’t going to use its nail clipper for a manicure, and you’re not going to use its miniature wood saw to build a piece of furniture. To do a job right, you need the right tools. Stick with best of breed applications that focus on doing one thing great. Apps that do too invariably cannot keep up with specialized apps that do one thing great. Web services will strengthen specialized apps and allow you to practice the way you want. Read my recent post for more details on this.

6. Create A Social Networking Strategy
. Before you tweet, update your status, or write your social media profile on LinkedIn or Facebook, decide what your overall marketing goals are for 2011 and then align your social media marketing goals with your overall marketing goals.

7. Learn About Search Engine Marketing. Few advisors are trying to get ranked high in search engines, creating great opportunities for those who learn about search engine optimization (SEO). Local listings—the ones that come up in search results when you search “financial advisors” and your town’s name—can bring you lots of leads. A small number of advisors who are already doing this know what I’m talking about, and it’s worth taking the time to learn how you can get listed high on local searches. The other way to succeed at SEO that only a small portion of advisors are utilizing: blogs. Writing a blog regularly can dramatically improve your search rankings and enable people to find you for precisely the right reasons.

8. Look At Your Custodian. Is your custodian creating technology aligned with your business? On January 1, a story I wrote for the January issue of Financial Advisor will address the issue of how the custodians are approaching RIA technology very different from one another. The main point of the story is that custodians will soon be under growing pressure to open up their back-office systems. This will free tech vendors to develop their apps to use data that will now made available directly to advisor apps as never before. If advisors pay attention to this trend, it will be a game-changer in 2011 for advisor technology.

9. Test Your Back Ups. If a fire, hurricane, hardware failure, or some other disaster knocks your technology system offline or kills all of your data, will your backups work? Something like 35% of all backups done by IT professionals do not work when needed. Don’t let that happen to you.

10. Educate Yourself. A4A is committed to educating advisors about technology, and we’re not the only resource—although we actually may be the best. Use these resources. Technology is critical to your success but you cannot execute a great tech strategy unless you are well informed. That takes a commitment. Either delegate the research chores to a staffer or do it yourself, but make sure you use the resources that are available to you. 

I'm sure my list of 10 is incomplete. Please let us know what other tech resolutions should be on this list.

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