Some of the most successful registered investment advisors (RIAs) in Los Angeles share key traits with the most successful RIAs around the country. Naturally, areas such as security, compliance, and operational efficiency are always top of mind. But, there are none more important nor as impactful as how they view and run their technology.
While security and compliance are certainly the hot topics “de jour”, there is a foundational aspect that’s common across all successful RIAs. When it comes to technology, highly successful advisors share several key practices — and it’s not just using the same portfolio management or trading systems, or even their choice of customer relationship management (CRM) systems. It’s how they value and leverage technology in seven real, meaningful ways.
1: They Embrace the Digital World
When was the last time you came across an investment advisor conducting their business on paper, pen firmly clasped in hand, and desktop calendar waiting for entries at their side? The simple fact is there aren’t any companies working this way anymore. The bar has been raised. Not only do the top performers embrace technology, they live with a mindset that’s looking to improve things they’re doing by constantly leveraging technology in new and better ways.
2: They Unify Their Communication
Any highly successful RIA will express the importance of being contactable, no matter where they are or what time it is. Investing and managing your clients’ accounts isn’t a 9-5 job anymore — and it’s not confined by locality, either. Any investment advisors worth their salt will 1) explore virtual phone number and VoIP telephony system options, 2) sync their emails with their other communication platforms, and 3) make sure to keep their cell phone batteries charged at all times. Those who are available at all times are able to provide a far more customer service focused approach than those who switch off the minute the office door is closed.
3: They Secure Their Information
Investment advisors tend to handle an incredible amount of sensitive data on a daily basis. They deal with everything from financial records and investment portfolios to clients’ details and personal files. In fact, U.S.-registered investment firms managed more than $19.2 trillion in assets in 2016, according to the Investment Company Institute. Therefore, it's vital that security procedures, such as firewalls, malware protection, and password security, become second nature. No investment advisor is likely to succeed without such cybersecurity awareness.
4: They’re Comfortable with Social Media
Client engagement is number one when it comes to running a successful investment business and strategic investors need to be able to appeal to their customers, and potential customers, at every opportunity Social media is a great way to unify your brand, access clients on every platform and ensure you’re being seen. Additionally, leveraging professional networks like LinkedIn can improve your reputation among other IRAs and potential referral partners.
5: They Recognize the Importance of Saving and Backing Up
While it may seem simple, learning to regularly press “save” and remembering to shut down programs is an essential habit to get used to Successful RIAs understand that the little things matter when it comes to IT, and something as simple as shutting down a computer without first saving any documents could have catastrophic consequences for their business, clients, or both. Look after your clients’ best interests by taking the time to save and backup your files.
6: They’re Comfortable in the Cloud
Cloud-based systems are the way forward when it comes to data handling and storage, and any successful RIA will be able to communicate their worth when it comes to business. Cloud-based and hosted systems, which store your electronic information off-site in one place, keep your information accessible from anywhere in the world at any time. They also are easily maintained by an external agent rather than an internal IT team. To explore the potential benefits of the cloud is to take a step toward investing in your business and your clients’ best interests.
7: They Keep Their Computers Free from Clutter
While it’s tempting to create file after file and shortcut followed by shortcut on your computer’s desktop to make it easier to find what you’re looking for, this makes for a cluttered computer that is slow and inefficient. Successful RIAs get into the habit of removing files and folders once they’re no longer needed. They also know that information should be stored on the network and not on local machines. These professionals run their IT like they manage their portfolios — proactively managing them to make their firm operationally effective — while leaving the technical side to the IT experts.
How has technology helped you succeed in improving your firm’s operations? Share some of your top IT tips to help us expand our list. Please share them in the comments box below.