Financial advisers generally groan when walking past newsstands with headlines blazing, "What Stocks to Buy NOW!" The usual suspects in the pop-financial press expend a lot of ink on exactly where the public shouldn't fixate.
Why do those magazines continue to whip up a frenzy over the Twitter IPO price or the best dividend-paying funds? Because it sells.
The same can be said for our industry when it comes to technology. "How the New iPad will Transform Advisers Lives" and "Top Ten Apps for Advisers" are catchy headlines, but advisers' focus should not be on the shiny new product, it should be their process.
There are certainly temptations to buy the newest gadget. But just as we want our clients to focus on how to best achieve their long-term goals, our business focus should be on the long term as well. Advisers must understand that the answer to transforming their day, year or business is not in a technology product, it is through improving their process with technology.
As any real financial planner knows, the best chance our clients have to meet their goals is by following the financial planning process, not by buying some hot new financial product. Clients who reverse this order often are left with something they don't need or understand and they probably paid too much. The same is true for advisers when looking for the best way to transform their business. Developing a technology strategy starts with clarifying your firm's long-term goals, cataloging your resources and processes, and then prioritizing which areas to address first. Along the way, you'll evaluate technology tools and add those which make sense for your needs.
Buying that hot new device or app without knowing how it will work with your other tools and processes might make you wish you'd taken the advice you give to your clients.
Dave O'Brien is owner of O'Brien Financial Planning, Inc., a fee-only registered investment adviser in Richmond, Va. Prior to launching his firm in 2006, Dave spent 18 years at GE where he managed information technology and operations teams in several industries.