In one form or another, technology plays an integral role in the day to day business operations of every modern Registered Investment Advisor. Having up-to-date technology can not only help your firm operate more efficiently and effectively, 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 the end of 2017, U.S.-registered investment advisory firms managed more than $22.5 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 determining what your needs are, what you're looking to accomplish, doing your research to determine the alternatives, planning for the implementation, and then executing on the migration to the new platform. This seems easy enough, right? Unfortunately, all of this isn't in the core competency of most RIAs. This is where partnering with the right technology company is key and for over 25 years, FPA Technology Services has specialized in helping Registered Investment Advisors in the greater Los Angeles area maximize their investment in business-enhancing strategic technology solutions to help grow their firms.
Based on our years of experience, here are a few tips on how you can best address your company’s IT needs when making technology investments.
1. Know Where Your Technology Currently Stands
You should begin by performing an audit of your existing technology. After all, how can you know where you need to go if you don’t know where you currently stand, let alone what gaps you need to address? Knowing what hardware and software you have at your disposal, and whether they are successfully performing their roles, is crucial to the success of technology for your firm.
2. Take Time and Do Your Research
When picking an investment, you wouldn’t necessarily settle on the first company you run across nor the cheapest, so why would you settle when making technology related decisions ending up with substandard technology? It's critical that you take the necessary time to figure out what technologies best suits 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.
These days, there are are a host of various technical solutions that can be of use to Investment Advisors. A few include:
- Customer relationship management (CRM) software
- Cybersecurity protection technologies
- Data warehousing and reporting systems
- Hosted email and unified communication solutions
- Portfolio management software
- Trading systems
- 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” to test the market. Cost, efficiency, and ease of use all 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's imperative to first make sure that you have the appropriate and properly sized backup solution in place (both on-prem and in the cloud) AND that you've backed up any data and sensitive information you have. Imagine the impact to your firm, 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 2FA and 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 — when making any sort of change, take it 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 over 25 years, FPA has focused on working with LA Registered Investment Advisors as their trusted IT Service Provider. If your company is looking to upgrade your technology, 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 or shoot me an email if you'd like to discuss things further.