Why are so many advisers still mailing quarterly reports?
With the rise of purpose-built choices for advisers from a thriving technology community that has grown with them and their success, it is baffling to see a lack of adoption of some of the more “no-brainer” types of technologies.
Chief among them is the quarterly reporting process. This manual, time-intensive and stodgy tradition of sending paper performance reports, market commentary, and the like through the snail mail every quarter has outlived its due date.
Fortunately, there is light at the end of this paper tunnel. When asked, leading advisers say that the key to their success in building efficient businesses is to continually challenge their assumptions as to why and how certain things are done.
This process of self-examination can have a dramatic impact.
As an example, consider the recent experience of a successful independent advisory firm in Southern California that was growing consistently. As part of their history, the firm prided itself on its reporting and communication with clients as a key service they provided.
Inherent in that approach, however, was a vast, manual reporting system they had cobbled together through the years and which was quickly becoming an operational burden and nightmare to manage.
Because they had continued to do business as usual and didn't pay attention to the new technologies available to them, they were beginning to fall behind in service, with communications and reports provided as their “standard” service model taking them over a month out of every quarter to complete.
Just before they reached a breaking point, however, they started to challenge their way of providing reports in a paper fashion and invested in building a “composite application” to automate that process by integrating document management technology with their portfolio management system and CRM software.
This integration allowed the firm to automatically publish their reports electronically to private, secure client websites, triggering an email to the client informing them that their report was ready to be viewed.
At first, the firm was concerned about the impact this change might have to their clients. “Change can never be good,” the nervous principals worried.
Fortunately, however, they moved ahead despite their wonderings by wrapping this new reporting change in a “going green” message to their clients and were more than pleasantly surprised on a number of levels.
Because they could track the email opening and report downloading, what the firm realized was that less than 1 in 10 of their clients actually viewed the reports. What they had thought would be a service decrease by going electronic delivery actually wasn't a decrease at all. In reality it was a service increase as the information was much timelier.
Most importantly, what they realized is that they had completely misunderstood what their real value proposition was to their clients. It was clearly not in providing quarterly reports.
By challenging their assumptions and existing ways of doing business, the new technology saved them three weeks per quarter of staff time and tens of thousands of dollars in annual printing, collating and mailing costs. It also provided them with added capacity to grow the firm without adding additional back office staff.
Looking back, the firm realized that had they viewed the cost of the technology as an added expense, they might never have invested in the first place. This realization was critical to their continued success and they are now looking for ways to automate virtually every process in their firm.
So, to, can you. Examine your business, challenge the status quo and embrace the new adviser, purpose built technologies designed to make your life simpler and your business more enjoyable.
What are some "no-brainer" tech tools that advisers have been too slow to adopt? Join the conversation
Timothy D. Welsh is president and founder of Nexus Strategy LLC, a consulting firm to the wealth management industry, and can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @NexusStrategy.