Lessons one firm learned from overhauling its tech setup
The hesitation before making any technology upgrade for a practice is understandable.
What software and programs truly create efficiency for both advisers and clients? How much big data can a firm actually act upon?
There is the continuing trouble of figuring out proper tech practices, too. Should advisers Instagram, Pinterest and tweet to the masses, or is that simply TMI?
Having the right technology is just part of the struggle, but one that is worth the effort, says Michael Paley, chief operating officer of New York-based Klingman & Associates.
Since last year, the firm has undergone an overhaul of its systems by adding Envestnet's Tamarac platform to streamline the upgrade process and keep up with competition.
Even so, once systems are in place, “the only criteria that matters is why does what you’re doing make sense for clients?” Paley says.
Technology can’t replace people, but it is a great enabler.
“One of the challenges is how to maintain that critical, consistent extremely high level of client service while changing foundational tools you’re using to serve client transition from one set to another,” Paley says.
He shared his thoughts about how his firm is using technology.
Q. How does technology improve the quality of your practice?
A: By better leveraging technology, our team has more time to focus on the issues and services that are most impactful for our clients. At the same time, our technology enables us to deepen our understanding of our clients -- whether it is their planning needs or their investment accounts -- so that we can best develop solutions to meet their needs. Furthermore, our technological tools provide invaluable information about our business that we use to manage and grow our company more effectively.
Q. How do these tools influence client interaction?
A: Our tools enable us to distill a lot of information about our clients into easy-to-understand reports. These reports, in turn, allow us to engage with our clients in meaningful discussions about the issues that are most important to their particular financial situation. In addition, we continue to look for ways to make it easier and quicker for our clients to interact with us. Tools such as e-signature and our recently launched client vault are good examples of that.
Q. What is your take on the robo industry?
A. Robo is a very tricky word and concept. If you asked 100 people what robo means, you might get 300 definitions, but it’s the use of technology to better and more efficiently serve your clients. That trend is not going away and is in keeping with the changes we’ve made and will continue to make going forward. Personal relationships with clients matter and will continue to matter. The human elements of managing clients and human emotion are real, but if we as a business can effectively utilize tech to do the things we don’t need to do, there are lots of ways where you can really leverage technology to free up more human time to use that human element.
Q. What is one area in your practice that could improve?
A: Over the course of the next 12 to 18 months, we will look to expand our document management capabilities. In the future, we would like our team to be able to easily access any document, about any client, from any electronic device, from anywhere, all in a secured manner.
This story is part of a 30-30 series on ways to upgrade your practice. It was originally published on March 9, 2016.