As a financial advisor, one of the most effective ways to simplify and strengthen your business is through an all-in-one financial advisor platform. But choosing the right software can seem complicated given how many options are out there. How do you make sure that you’re making the best decision for your firm?
The answer to this question is deceptively simple: the right technology will work for you rather than the other way around. It will operate as an interface for strengthening client relationships while introducing new efficiencies to your RIA practice.
Here are 6 questions to ask in your vetting process, to ensure that you choose the right solution — and avoid getting locked into the wrong fit for your business.
1. Will it improve relationships with my clients?
In our fast-paced economy, financial advisors and investors alike are strapped for time, which makes it a challenge to get on the same page, as a result. All-in-one software can help by establishing a comprehensive and direct line of communication.
From updating financial plans to getting aligned around performance reporting, advisors can ensure that clients have a continuous, transparent, and clear line of sight regarding investment decisions. The key is to choose software that provides clarity while instilling confidence.
When evaluating technology, be sure to ask about relationship-building features that improve communication with clients.
2. Is it customizable to the values of my practice?
As a financial advisor, your decision-making process is the foundation of your practice. Remember that your clients chose to work with you based on your skills, personality, and wisdom — which all originate from your values as a practitioner.
The right all-in-one financial advisor technology will operate as an extension of your firm. As an example, consider the experience of Glen Eagle, a financial advisory practice based in Kingston, New Jersey.
“As a firm, we are focused on a higher purpose,” says Rob Michel, the firm’s Chief Investment Officer. “We believe that investing is about more than just making more money. That means getting aligned around our client’s human goals — investing in a child’s education, purchasing a dream home, or getting ready for retirement.”
The right all-in-one advisor tech will remind your clients of these values in every digital interaction. When vetting software providers, make sure to choose a solution that aligns with your firm’s identity. Ask details for how, specifically.
3. Can it integrate with my preferred tools?
You can think of your all-in-one advisor platform as an integrator between different systems. After all, investors are multidimensional humans with unique and holistic financial lives. As an advisor, it’s up to you to piece together the right picture.
“My apps speak to each other,” explains Martin Smith, founder at Wealthcare Financial Group. “Our CRM speaks to our portfolio reporting and performance reporting software. Both of these systems speak to my retirement planning software, in addition to my video software. Everything is interrelated technology wise.”
When evaluating software providers, it’s important to ensure that you can choose integrations flexibly rather than getting locked into tools that aren’t a good fit. When evaluating potential software, be sure to ask how much flexibility and freedom you’ll have to choose the exact tools you need to run your business.
4. Will I have transparency into the product roadmap?
High-performing software companies are continually building new product features. These upgrades introduce value that you can pass on to your client base of investors.
One of the challenges that you may run into with your all-in-one technology provider, however, is lead time around new releases. Even though your software is a core part of your business, you may need to wait until a launch announcement to hear about new features.
Ideally, your software provider will be able to provide you with more advanced lead time by sharing what’s in the queue, what’s in progress, and what’s been recently released (as an example, you can take a look at CircleBlack’s public-facing product roadmap as an example here).
Given the business critical nature of your all-in-one financial advisor tech, you should never feel left in the dark. It’s important to work with a technology provider that can operate as a true partner.
5. Does the platform prioritize simplicity and ease of use?
One of the biggest challenges with advisor tech today, according to an article published in Financial Advisor Magazine, is that tools are created for engineers rather than advisors. As a result, firms end up wasting money and time on solutions that they aren’t using.
“Adoption is really the best way to measure success for advisor technology,” says Kim Mackrill of Milemarker, a Mount Pleasant, SC-based Integration as a Service (IaaS) company that delivers a fully managed data integration platform for financial services companies, in an interview with Financial Advisor Magazine.
“It’s quite common to run across firms who have a lot of tools only to discover that they are barely using any of them. Understanding how to integrate them with the rest of your technology stack is one thing. Understanding how to use them every day effectively is another, but both are significant,” she adds.
In order for software to be valuable to your firm, you need to make it a part of your ongoing operations.
“We found that some were not advanced enough while others were overly complicated,” says Dani Mutz who is a co-owner of Cross State Financial.
When choosing software, it’s important to make sure that you’re only paying for the features you need. Otherwise, you risk overcomplicating your operations and potentially wasting money.
6. To what extent will customer support operate as an extension of my team?
When it comes to choosing the right software, customer support is an important part of the decision. After all, you’re relying on technology to run your business. When you need help, your all-in-one software provider should be on standby to answer questions and help you problem-solve.
As you evaluate different options for software, be sure to ask about customer success protocols. What steps will your technology provider take to ensure that you’re well-supported? What best practices are in place to fully understand your business? Do customer success team members tend to stick around for the long-haul or only a short time?
The right software provider will be more than a vendor to your business. The best customer support professionals will actively contribute to your firm’s success.
Learn more about CircleBlack
CircleBlack helps financial advisors build stronger client relationships and more prosperous advisory practices, as a result. Our next-generation, all-in-one software gives you the exact tools you need to grow your RIA.
You can get in touch to request a demo of our platform.
This material has been prepared for educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, investment, accounting, legal, or tax advice.