While assessing an advisory firm’s technology needs, I was told to “push the envelope” with Excel’s capabilities so the firm didn’t have to invest in other software. As a consultant, it was not difficult for me to respond. As an employee, I may not have had the opportunity to respond.
When it comes to technology, it seems that making no decision is the number one reason employees are frustrated. The excuses given for no decision just adds to the frustration levels.
While your staff appreciates your investment in technology, not all of your decisions are welcomed. Here are scenarios that can drive your staff crazy:
Under-estimating the complexity of your client base when selecting software – Not understanding the intricacies behind each client may lead your firm to select technology that will meet only half of your needs.
And leaving your staff to deal with the other half – For areas that aren’t supported by your technology, you delegate the “figure-it-out-and-make-it-work” process to your staff, which they eventually resolve.
Implementing work-flow processes that don’t work –You feel obligated to conform to the work-flow templates provided by the software. The templates contain steps that your staff believes are unnecessary and will create bottlenecks in the process. Your staff understands the importance of efficiency and may end up ignoring those tasks.
Insisting on the same reports as the previous software – Without a plan on how the firm will use the technology, your clients receive the same reports as with the old system, via the same snail-mail method.
Making decisions with limited technology knowledge – Has anyone in your firm ever agreed to a client request while not certain if the technology can deliver? Or, attempt to develop a complex rebalancing model without understanding the relationships of the variables used in the software?
Returning from a tech conference with grandiose ideas and nothing else–Your firm’s representative returns with excitement over products the firm doesn’t need, or with great ideas that don’t go anywhere.
Think “organized thought processes”, not “excessive work-flow processes”
Creating a technology environment that pleases everyone in your firm is not a difficult process. But it does take an organized process and involves your staff. The following are several tips to help ease the frustrations listed above:
If you are willing to upgrade to new software, define the required level of support the software needs to maintain. For example, if the rebalancing software needs to support at least 90% of your clients, define those features that must be included in the software. This will minimize the exception items your staff will have to deal with.
If you recently implemented new software, another conversion is probably not an option. There are alternatives you can analyze ranging from vendor assistance to more sophisticated solutions provided by custom software developers.
Outline areas of your firm that can best be served by new technology. This will help you focus on the right areas at the next tech conference. Also, make sure the appropriate person attends the conference. It may benefit your firm if a staff person that works closely with your technology attends a conference and can visualize how new products will fit in with your existing structure.
Develop a plan on servicing clients using the technology. Commit to a timeline for rolling out the technology to your clients.
Let your staff appreciate your investment and your decisions.
Sue Glover is President of Susan Glover & Associates, a consulting firm that ensures advisory firms have the information they need to make the best decisions for their clients and their own firm. With over 30 years of experience in the financial services industry, she assists advisors in evaluating, selecting implementing, and using technology. Visit her website at www.susangloverassociates.com. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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When it Comes to Technology, Do Advisors and Vendor Speak the Same Language? (Blog posted by Susan Glover, President, Susan Glover & Associate, LLC)
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How to choose the Right Technology to Streamline Your Business? (Whitepaper)