In one form or another, technology plays an integral role in the daily grind for any modern registered investment advisor. Having up-to-date technology can not only help your firm operate more effectively and efficiently, but it also helps to increase the quality of the service you provide to your clients as well as enhance your standing in their eyes
By year-end in 2016, U.S.-registered investment firms managed more than $19.2 trillion in assets, according to the Investment Company Institute. As an investment advisor, leveraging technology that can do what you need it to do each day is essential in helping you to serve your clients and stay ahead of your competitors.
But with so many technology options to choose from, how do you make a decision and effectively carry it out? It all comes down to figuring out what you need, doing your research, planning, and partnering with the right technology company. FPA Technology Services specializes in helping investment advisors in the greater Los Angeles area maximize their investment in business-enhancing strategic technology solutions.
I’ve put together a few tips on how you can help meet your company’s IT needs when making tech investments.
1. Know Where Your Technology Currently Stands
You should begin by performing an audit of your existing technologies. After all, how can you know where you’re trying to go if you don’t yet know what your needs are? Knowing what hardware and programs you have at your disposal, and whether they are successfully performing their roles, is crucial to the future success of your firm.
2. Take Time and Do Your Research
When shopping, you wouldn’t necessarily purchase the first piece of clothing you see, so why would you settle for substandard technology? It is important that you take the necessary time to figure out what technologies would best suit your needs. Otherwise, you’ll end up right back where you started. Research has been made easy thanks to the assistance of the internet, overflowing with information that is available with the click of a mouse.
There are numerous technologies that can be of use to investment advisors. A few examples include:
- Customer relationship management (CRM) software
- Cyber security protection technologies
- Data gathering systems
- Email clients or other communication delivery platforms
- Financial planning software
- File sharing and document management
- Investment and research software
- Password management systems
- Regulatory and compliance software
Free trials are a great way to “try before you buy” and to test the market. Cost, efficiency and ease of use all will come into play, so consider every factor. Knowing what tools will best serve you by providing access to timely, accurate and secure information — and knowing what tools will be compatible with your existing third-party systems — is critical to your firm’s success.
3. Keep Your Data Safe and Back It Up
Once you’ve made your decision — but before making any changes to your system or transferring your files and data to a new one — it is imperative to first make sure that you have backed up any data and sensitive information you have. Imagine the impact to your business, for both you and your clients, if whole portfolios were to vanish in the blink of an eye because you forgot to hit “save” or assumed your backup was consistent and complete.
The best way to maintain current operations is to first back everything up, then reload only the data you need onto the new systems and finally purge old files when they’re no longer necessary to maintain your office’s security and efficiency.
4. Plan for Your Firm’s Future
The technology improvements that you invest in now aren’t just about making your work easier for the present. Use this time to also think about your firm’s future needs in the months and years ahead. Be sure to choose technological investments that support your business in the long run — even if that means investing in something that isn’t necessarily the least expensive option. An in-house or outsourced IT analyst, or a program that can monitor your organization’s technology use and create reports, would be useful in helping you understand what is working. Now, you can make better-informed decisions and predictions about how your technology will operate in the coming years.
5. Adopt Smart New Habits
What’s the sense in spending days and weeks improving your office’s efficiency and upgrading technology if you’ll simply slip back into old habits? After spending all of this time, effort, and money investing in your investment firm’s future, it is now time to establish new and beneficial habits and break old bad ones. Change not only your technology but also your practices.
Remember the following to keep your office running efficiently:
- Avoiding misuses of technology
- Always keep data secure with encryption
- Save and backup files; purge old files
Don’t get caught in a cycle of bad habits that will only see your improved technology misused — take this as an opportunity to change your ways as well as your tech. After all, your technology is only as effective as the people who are operating it allow it to be. Make sure that beneficial processes and procedures are established, and that those sitting in the drivers’ seats receive the training they need to help your new technology engine achieve peak performance.
For more than 25 years, FPA Technology Services, Inc. has worked with portfolio management systems and have provided investment advisors with quality, trusted service. If your company is ready for an upgrade and are looking for your technology partner, check out our free guide: Investing in High Net Worth Clients: The LA Investment Advisor’s Guide to Using Technology to Manage and Grow Your Firm.
What technology changes is your firm looking to make in the near future? What questions do you have? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the Comment field below.