I recently upgraded my iPhone to iOS 7, and I decided instantly that I hated it.
Why? Because it was different. It looked different. Where was everything? Did I need to see a blast of rainbow colors every time I opened my device? What's up with this keyboard?
Now, don't judge me too harshly. I may be a technology advocate, but I can be as resistant to change as anyone. Technology is supposed to be ever-evolving and ever-improving, which is why advisers are encouraged to embrace the next big thing. But that isn't always practical or wise in a small registered investment adviser firm. How do you know when to embrace new technology and when to stand your ground? Here are a few guidelines we follow in my firm.
When to embrace changing technology:
-When it really does save you time. Even if the path to get there is different, take advantage of the research vendors put into making improvements to efficiency.
-When it's geared toward advisers. Many programs are generic, requiring you to “fit” your firm's needs into a system that isn't built with you in mind. When I find a system that thinks the way I do, I know I'm already saving time and energy.
-When avoiding it means more work. Yes, we all have our stubborn moments. But if it's taking you twice as long to access your client's financials because setting up that pesky integration seems so daunting, it's probably time to reconsider what's best for the firm — and your clients.
When to resist change (or at least do more research):
-When it messes with your current business model. In my firm, we prefer “old school” marketing by way of high-level-exposure ads and referrals. Yes, there are fantastic e-mail marketing tools out there that track and analyze open rates and engagement. But we know our client base, and a series of calculated e-blasts isn't what they'd expect from us.
-When it changes your overall client service delivery. We all want to be more efficient, but not at the expense of client service. What makes our industry different is our attention to personal service. Technology can definitely help with that, but it needs to be balanced.
-When you think “everyone is doing it.” It may be all the buzz right now, but I never recommend buying into something new, based on the hype alone. Do your research on the company. Find out what the benefits are of the new technology and see if it would actually affect your bottom line.
Deciding when to upgrade your technology shouldn't be determined by the populace; it's up to you to choose what's best for your business in the short term and long term. As for iOS 7, once I spent some time learning about the enhancements, I appreciated the overall improvements, such as Control Center, which gives users quick access to the most-used system tools. I may not ever be thrilled with that rainbow screen, but the overall enhancements have proved to be worth the change.
Gregory H. Friedman is co-founder and president of Junxure, and founder and president of Private Ocean.