As your advisory firm grows, your business goals and the technology you need to support those goals will inevitably change.
A solo advisor in their first year of business may need only a CRM to get their business off the ground, while a firm in business for five years with a handful of staff may operate with a portfolio management system, CRM, and a financial planning or risk tolerance solution.
Yet once a firm reaches institutional scale, the technology needed to support strategic growth as well as day-to-day operational needs must have the ability to adapt at a rapid pace. You won’t want to find yourself having to switch or adapt your tech stack amidst the stages of your firm’s growth.
Understanding the traits to look for in technology to support a large RIA firm can be the difference between continued success or stagnation. Here are four key areas in which your technology partners can support your large and growing firm.
ACCELERATED GROWTH TOOLS
As a large firm with a varied scope of business, you need technology partners who can support your specific needs.
Some firms may continue to focus on organic growth. There are two ways most tech systems can help in this regard.
Your technology tools can support your organic growth with their dedicated support staff that alleviates the pressure on your operational team. As an extension of your back-office team, you can rely on your tech partner to help complete tasks in a shorter time frame.
Also, automated tech tools that create greater operational efficiency in day-to-day tasks, like alerting you to tax-loss harvesting opportunities for client portfolios, can support enhanced organic growth as well.
If you’re a firm that looks to grow through M&A activity, then the support system your tech partners offer becomes even more critical. Look for partners who can provide experienced conversion teams that will help you onboard new acquisitions quickly, from converting their data to your platforms to assisting your team with training.
SCALE FOR HIGHER DEMANDS
As your firm grows, the demands on your staff’s time will exponentially increase along with your number of clients.
As such, your team will have less time to spend clicking through numerous software screens or managing manual processes than they did when your firm was smaller.
Look for tech partners that can provide real integration—and remember, not all integrations are built the same. A single-sign-on is not as useful to your team members as a full, two-way data sync that shares information between systems so your team doesn’t have to spend time worrying about accurate information or entering the same information twice.
Scale for a large advisory firm means putting time to its best use, and identifying solutions that provide true integration capabilities with each other is the best indicator of how well those systems can help your team scale and provide better client experiences, even with heightened support demands.
You don’t expect the clients you serve to be satisfied with a robo-advisor, so why should you expect your team to be satisfied with a technology partner that isn’t hands-on with your firm?
Look for technology solutions that can meet you where you are and provide support in multiple ways. The people on your team are all different, and it’s likely that the way they want to receive training and support also differs from one person to the next.
Your technology partners play a critical role in the longevity and success of your firm, and in your relationships with clients. The last thing you want is to skimp on a tech solution that doesn’t fully understand your unique needs.
Start by looking for firms that provide support by phone and email—those are the two basic building blocks of client service. But don’t stop there.
If your partners are modern, forward-thinking companies then they’ll also give you ways to contact them by live chat on their websites, or with e-learning platforms so you can learn on your own time, whenever you like.
Your firm is unique, and the way you receive support should also be unique.
SIMILAR CULTURE TO YOUR OWN
You’ll often hear coaches of successful sports teams talk about how the culture of their team helps them to win games and find sustained success.
Did you realize that culture is also important to your firm’s success with the tech partners you choose?
As a large and growing firm, your needs are constantly evolving. Your tech partner should be right there with you.
Look for a partner that operates on a consistent—and fast—update cycle. If you have to wait a year for improvements to roll out to your favorite system, then you are waiting too long. Updates should be regular, not out of the norm.
One other key to keep in mind when it comes to culture is who’s funding the development behind the scenes of your technology partners. Venture capital and private equity can be very different, and they can create different cultures within the tech firms who rely on their funding. Often, private equity firms provide more hands-on, strategic capital to firms than those backed solely by venture capitalists.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
Taken together, your tech partners need to support your firm’s growth with solutions that provide scale, support, and ways for you to put time and attention on clients—not your software.
To do that, your technology needs to provide you with automated solutions that help your tech do more on its own and save you time, as well as provide an accessible and expert support team for you to rely on when you need that extra productivity boost.