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Reading between the data

Advisers already have the tools to gather information, they just have to learn how to use it

By Neesha Hathi

Jun 18, 2014 @ 9:28 am (Updated 9:46 am) EST

advisers, big data, crm, technology

What does ‘big data’ mean to advisers? For many, the concept of big data brings to mind things like consumer buying habits, movie rentals and search results. By analyzing trends in business data, advisers can better understand who they serve, how they serve them and identify opportunities to progress their business priorities more effectively.

For advisers, data presents an opportunity to help manage the business — even for those with a smaller client base. The process for leveraging data doesn’t need to be complex. The key is to gather all available information in one place and then to use it intelligently.

(See also: Predictive technology taps into big data to help advisers connect with potential clients)

The good news is that advisers can use tools they already have available to gather meaningful information. Portfolio management software can provide an opportunity to view aggregated investment data easily. CRM platforms can provide not only client insights but also staffing insights, particularly when integrated with time management solutions. Consider these forms of data:

1. Geographic: One simple use of data is mapping client locations. Advisers may think they intuitively know where clients are but seeing their specific locations and geographic concentrations mapped out provides context on who they serve and can provide valuable insights for business development and strategy.

2. Holdings: Basic representations of portfolio holding data can be made actionable by setting up alerts to notify advisers when portfolio concentrations rise above a certain threshold.

3. Revenue: By analyzing business revenue patterns and projections, firms can discover which types of client relationships are responsible for greater returns and build a better plan for the future.

4. Talent: Data on how individual advisers work with clients, captured through timesheets and in a firm’s CRM, can provide insights into how to manage firm talent. In addition to workload distribution, managers can learn which teams may need additional training or resources to serve their clients better.

(More: Pershing digs into its big data plate to find securities to lend)

One of the most important uses of data revolves around identifying information on key client segments. Taking a look at data points such as the volume of calls clients are making to the firm and the types of investments they’re in can help determine how best to serve them. Gathering these insights can better equip a firm to be able to make business decisions that align firm resources more closely with client needs.

Harnessing the power of data has its challenges as firms need to maintain accuracy and consistency across the firm. Having a culture that cares about collecting and storing information is imperative to maintain quality. But as technology evolves, the process of logging data will become more automated, allowing advisers to create rich databases that provide them with key insights into their businesses and the ability to share these insights with key constituents across their firms.

Big data is not just for predicting the next Hollywood blockbuster. For advisers, it can provide the key to better understanding clients and providing leading-edge service, using information that is already at their fingertips.

Neesha Hathi is senior vice president at Schwab Advisor Services.