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RIA’s Growth Challenges – Part 1 – Boosting Efficiency

I’m a technologist at heart, and as the saying goes, if your a hammer, every problem you encounter looks like a nail.  And because ĪTEGRIA‘s business is based around being the technology arm of our RIA clients’ businesses, we are constantly looking for answers to our clients’ most pressing questions.

So as I was reading an interesting article on the website regarding The Largest RIAs’ Race to Scale, I began to wonder what I, as a technologist, would do to help my RIA clients solve 3 Challenges facing RIA’s mentioned in the article.

The article mentions the following 3 Challenges facing a growing RIA firm:

  1. Boost Their Efficiency
  2. Customize Their Technology
  3. Differenctiate Themselves from Their Competition

In today’s blog, I will cover challenge number #1 above from a technologist standpoint, and how I see technology playing a key role in addressing this crucial challenge in a RIA firm’s growth.

1.  Boost Their Efficiency

This challenge is probably the easiest of the 3 challenges to address with technology because so much of today’s technological innovations are geared towards increasing worker productivity and efficiency.  If I had to narrow it down to four aspects for any of my RIA clients to concentrate increasing efficiency, it would in the following areas:

  • Increase workforce mobility
  • Securely increase data accessibility
  • Improve workforce collaboration
  • Reduce unnecessary or unexpected down-time

The exact technologies to deploy that addresses the above bullet points would vary greatly on what the RIA client currently has in place in their existing network infrastructure.  But there are a number of technologies and solutions that would accomplish the challenge of increasing a firm’s efficiency by concentrating on those four areas.  In up coming blog posts, I will be addressing each of the above bullet points and giving examples of technologies that can be used to address that aspect of the challenge to boost an RIA’s efficiency.

With respect to increasing workforce mobility, you’d have to be living under a technological or social rock not to recognize the strides made to increase mobility lately.  From Apple’s iPad and iPhones to the latest Android and other tablet devices, mobility has been the hottest selling innovation for the past 5+ years.  But are RIA’s using this technology effectively?  The answer is a resounding YES!  RIA’s are actually early adopters of tablet technology according to a Joel Bruckenstein’s December 2010 article on the Financial Planning’s 2010 Technology Survey which stated that 17 percent of advisers had purchased an iPad and an additional 51 percent planned on its purchase.

The use of these devices certainly increases a RIA’s workforce mobility and configured properly can allow their employees to securely access information quickly while away from the office.  With proper integration with a Microsoft Exchange 2010 server, mobile devices (including iPads) can be remotely erased (among other useful tasks) in the event the device is lost or stolen, making them much more secure than in the past.

Integrating these tools into the RIA’s network infrastructure will invariably lead to a more efficient workforce.  In many cases we’ve help integrate various “Cloud Technologies” into an RIA’s practice to increase the the firm’s collaboration between employees, vendors, and customers.  Using outside services such as Dropbox or can help firms quickly and efficiently share files and up-to-date-data with their off-site team members.

Lastly, RIA’s can boost efficiencies by having their networks available and online when they need it most by proactively maintaining and actively monitoring their network infrastructure.  The right technology partner can monitor their network 24/7/365 and prevent problems from arising before they cause network down time.  This is crucial to any business, but my experience has shown that RIA’s are much more sensitive to down-time than most other companies. That technology partner must also perform routine and emergency maintenance tasks during non-business hours.  This is extremely important in making RIA’s work more efficient during the time they are at work.  And most importantly, the technology partner must have the knowledge and experience of designing and administering a network infrastructure specifically for the RIA industry.  They must be familiar with the unique programs needed to run the RIA practice (portfolio management systems, CRM’s, re-balancing software, etc).  This will save RIA firms valuable time in training and/or re-training their technology support partner on the unique needs of their business.

It’s clear to most that technology can make a significant impact into boosting an RIA firm’s efficiency.  Just make sure that the technology being deployed is the right fit for the firm, and that it is executed properly.

In the next blog posting, I’ll address the importance of #2 – Customizing Your RIA Firm’s Technologies.  Until then… good business!