We all know it: Technology is both extremely important and tedious. It's a headache that, when alleviated, lets us get on with the important work of planning for clients' financial lives, and lets us do it more effectively and efficiently than ever.
But just deciding what to buy and when to upgrade — which is what advisers spend most of their money and time on — is only the start.
As RBC Wealth Management's U.S. chief executive John Taft recently mentioned in a video interview with InvestmentNews, “It's no good to anybody to spend money and develop a new application and deliver it to advisers if they don't then get the training they need to adopt that application and integrate it into their practices, so they can be more productive and deliver a better client experience.”
Advisers often aren't hearing that call, or appreciating its importance. In the InvestmentNews 2013 Adviser Technology Study, training ranked fourth out of four choices for where advisers plan to invest technology dollars, the other options being software (cloud), hardware and IT consulting/outsourcing.
But having the tool is worthless unless you and your staff know how to use it, and preferably maximize it. Even “kind of” understanding how to use a tech tool undercuts the vast potential for building efficiencies into your processes, including automation in such time-consuming but critical pursuits as bringing clients on board and communicating with them regularly.
So when you put together your 2015 technology budget, be sure there's a line item in there for training. It could be bringing in additional resources not offered by vendors — both at the time of an initial purchase and for rolling refreshers thereafter. And don't forget about new-employee training. Everyone has got to be up to speed on technology to the extent their job is bolstered by it.
But perhaps more lacking than dollars is time. No one has enough of it, but firms can expand it through technological efficiencies if they spend a few valuable hours early on to make it second nature to work with their systems to their fullest capacity.