InvestmentNews takes advisers through the developments and innovations in technology that’ll change the way you do business today—and tomorrow.

What you can learn from tech heavyweight Qualcomm

Make no mistake — the focus of a giant technology company has relevance to advisory firms. Just think innovation.

Jan 22, 2014 @ 11:28 am

By Sheryl Rowling

advisory, technology, qualcomm, innovation
+ Zoom

I recently had the good fortune of attending a half-day seminar at Qualcomm Technologies Inc. on building a culture of innovation. At first blush, it might seem that the focus of a technology company would bear no relevance to an advisory practice. But as I listened to the presentations, I realized that many ideas were applicable to our businesses.

What struck me as an essential element of Qualcomm's great success is its multifaceted approach to encouraging innovation. At the core of its culture is a business model that supports risk taking. Their slogan is “What if?” According to the big plaque hanging in Qualcomm headquarters, “At the core of Qualcomm is the idea, and every idea is rooted in a 'what if?' moment. The ability to question and push boundaries is who we are and what we do.”

Great leadership is the key. Without buy-in from the top, the spirit of innovation will be crushed. Leadership is responsible for setting goals and vision — and then encouraging ideas. To encourage this, Qualcomm applies the following principles:

• Innovation is not just for engineers or management.

• Ideas come before ego.

• Allow for “stupid” ideas.

• Allow “field tests” and, if successful, roll out completely.

• Failure is OK.

• Support continuous learning.

• Education is encouraged even in areas outside of core duties.

Qualcomm promotes teamwork, recognizing that a combination of innovators and implementers is necessary to achieve successful results. And, once a team has demonstrated success, it is not broken up. Open communication and socialization is not only accepted, but encouraged — even during the workday. That comfort level within the office and among co-workers allows for creativity and collaboration.

Whether applied to technology, client service processes and/or internal operations, I believe that ongoing innovation is essential to the future survival of advisory practices.

Sheryl Rowling is chief executive of Total Rebalance Expert and principal at Rowling & Associates. She considers herself a non-techie user of technology.


What do you think?

View comments

Recommended for you

Featured Research

The 2015 InvestmentNews Adviser Technology Study

This in-depth study provides a blueprint for the industry, providing actionable information to advisers, along with the latest solutions to help them drive profitability, efficiency and growth for their firm.

Latest news & opinion

The appeal and pitfalls of holding unconventional assets in retirement accounts

While non-traditional asset classes held in individual retirement accounts may have return and portfolio diversification benefits, there are "unique complexities" that limit their value for most investors.

Wells Fargo's move to boost signing bonuses could give it a lift

Wirehouse is seen as trying to shore up adviser ranks that took a hit after banking scandal

New Jersey fines David Lerner Associates for nontraded REIT sales

Firm will pay $650,000 for suitability, compliance and books and records violations.

Report predicts $400 trillion retirement savings gap by 2050

Shortfall driven by longer life spans and disappointing investment returns.

Wells Fargo will ramp up spending to lure brokers

Wirehouse, after losing 400 brokers in first quarter, is bucking trend among rivals who have said they are going to cut back on spending big bucks recruiting veteran advisers


Subscribe and Save 60%

Premium Access
Print + Digital

Learn more
Subscribe to Print