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RIA’s Growth Challenges – Part 2 – Customizing RIA Technologies

This is part #2 of my blog regarding 3 challenges facing a RIA firm’s growth, and how the proper use of technology can help an adviser firm solve those challenges.

Challenge #1 facing RIAs was to increase efficiency is the practice, and I addressed that in my previous blog.

2. Customize Their Technology

Challenge #2 facing RIAs according to Ann Marsh’s article, The Largest RIAs Race to Scale, at Financial-Planning.com is customizing their technologies to fit the firm’s workflow and processes.

In discussions with our clients, we’ve found that the clients who are most successful at customizing their technologies for their firm are the clients that look at ways to integrate all their RIA specific applications.

RIAs typically have the following systems / software packages that are specific to their industry:

  • CRM
  • Financial Application
  • Portfolio Management Application
  • Portfolio Re-Balancer
  • Document Management
  • Compliance Technologies
  • Account Aggregation Tools

RIAs must also have the standard business systems that firms must have to function in today’s business environment.

  • Email / Collaboration
  • Printing
  • File Sharing

As a technologist, when presented with the challenge of how to customize an RIA’s technology to work with their office workflows, I always start with the structure of the clients Network Infrastructure (servers, workstations, operating systems, routers, security, etc.).

I would then begin to group together business systems that relate to one another.  For example, the proper implementation of CRM system will have a wide reaching effect on many systems if they are deployed correctly.  A CRM system that can be linked to a RIA’s portfolio management system (PMS) is a very attractive customization that saves time and gains efficiency in the practice.  From there, a RIA can see that if their re-balancer system and financial planning tools can be integrated into the PMS, then the firm can gain a lot of efficiency from a complete system all focused around the CRM.

I’ve grouped a few of these together in a Mind Map (below) to illustrate my point.

By organizing all the systems as above, I can then plan to make sure that the Network Infrastructure is capable of supporting the firm’s business systems.