Outside-IN

The future belongs to visionaries. Let's build their tools today

To sustain their growth trajectory, RIAs will need customizable tools to express their vision and value proposition

Jun 6, 2019 @ 11:11 am

By Eric Clarke and Dean Cook

If you ask someone in the financial services industry about their goals, chances are good you'll hear that they want to attract more clients, improve their client experience or accelerate their growth. The specifics vary, but most want to get bigger and become more successful tomorrow than they are today. But growth goals are hard to reach without a guiding vision, and the right people and tools to operationalize that vision.

From our vantage point, we can see our industry's appetite for growth coming from the mounting pressure on all of us to modernize the way we work.

We see it in the registered investment adviser space everywhere we turn, especially as M&A activity continues at a breathtaking pace and scope. Many firms choose this route to gain access to resources to adopt tech that plays to their strengths, instead of going down the cost-prohibitive path of building solutions in-house.

Feeling the urgency to adapt and stay competitive in this environment, practices of all sizes must integrate capabilities that enable growth both by creating value for clients and introducing efficiencies that support strategic and prudent decision-making.

Success in this effort requires a clear vision, but we've learned there is no single vision that fits every business model. The two of us have served RIAs since the turn of the century, and it has been gratifying to see so many firms claim and achieve their own distinct visions for success.

That diversity will be more important than ever as firms strive to maximize adviser alpha and combat fee compression and outside disruption by offering relevant service to clients trained to expect complete flexibility, choice and convenience in all areas of their lives.

To sustain that trajectory into the future, RIAs will need customizable tools to express their vision and value proposition to an exacting degree of granularity.

We're in the unique position to see that the future doesn't just belong to firms that build and execute their financial technology workflows and operations, or those that rely totally on outsourcing through turnkey asset management platform solutions. Rather, it belongs to those that are able to design an experience, through partnerships or otherwise, that places them somewhere within that continuum and, more importantly, in alignment with their long-term objectives.

For example, some businesses want support with trading or billing. Others want to outsource a portion of their model portfolios, or access tools to better blend and customize portfolios on the client-specific level. Still others look for video and screen-sharing integrations to support a distributed workforce while retaining a high-touch client experience.

No matter the specifics, we believe future-focused advisers and firms not only need a range of bespoke technology and support services that pair strategically to propel their vision, but also the flexibility to choose how, and by whom, they're put into action.

In consequence, it will be incumbent upon leading integrators and technology and service providers to respond in kind with their own evolution if they expect to remain a part of that picture.

(More: Find your Fosbury Flop: Innovating on the fundamentals)

Eric Clarke is the founder and CEO of Omaha, Neb.-based Orion Advisor Services. Dean Cook is CEO of FTJ Fundchoice, which has $15 billion in AUM.

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