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RIA’s Growth Challenges – Part 3 – Differentiating Themselves from Their Competition

This is part #3 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 and #2 can be read in my previous blog posts.

Challenge #3 facing RIAs according to Ann Marsh’s article, The Largest RIAs Race to Scale, at Financial-Planning.com is Differentiating Themselves from Their Competition.

3.  Differentiating Themselves from Their Competition

From a technologist’s perspective, there are a number of ways that a RIA firm can use technology to differentiate from their competition.  When discussing this issue with clients, some of the best ways we have deployed technologies can be grouped around enhancing the client experience.  A few suggestions that come to mind are below…

Video Conferencing

There are many technologies that can enhance the client experience that are very easy to deploy yet set RIA firms apart.  An example of this would be using inexpensive video conferencing technologies like Skype or Facetime to communicate with your clients.

With the proliferation of mobile devices (iPads, iPhones, Adroids, tablets, etc.) there are more opportunities for RIA’s to be in direct face to face contact with their clients.  By setting up Skype connections in RIA conference rooms or at their workstations, an advisor can have a “virtual meeting” with their clients to go over their quarterly statements, perform planning sessions, etc., all from the convenience of the office (less travel cost).  Chances are that their clients already use these technologies to communicate with their friends and family, why not their advisor?

By deploying these technologies, their clients feel a personal connection with the advisor, are impressed with the client’s use of today’s relevant technologies, and the entire firms gets the reputation of keeping up with current technological advances to better the client experience.  An added bonus is that these sessions can be recorded and archived in the client file for compliance purposes.  The compliance guys will love that!

All of the above can be done using services other than Skype as well.  Apple’s Facetime feature can do the same thing on Mac systems.

Presentations

Another example of technologies that can differentiate an advisor firm by enhancing the client experience is by using more technologies in the client presentation or meeting.  Many (actually most) of our clients have flat panel TV’s in their conference rooms.  These TV’s are normally connected to a network computer which allows the TV to be used as a monitor for presentations.  Again, this is not a new idea and many RIA firms have this same setup already in place (for those that don’t, it’s good idea to set this up).

You can add-on to this idea by deploying technologies that project your iPad applications on the same TV screen (Apple TV has a feature that allows this to work wonderfully).  You can even use your iPhone as a remote control for the iPad.  This feature is works especially well in Keynote (Apple’s presentation software).

Social Media

There are of course many other ways to use technology to differentiate your RIA firm.  It helps to have an open mind and pay attention to what the general public is using to make their lives easier.  Technology awareness can also increase your brand awareness through the use of Social Media sites.  Make sure that you have all your bases covered with Social Media via an archiving tool or service (we’ve found SMARSH and Global Replay to do a great job with this).

The point is that making good use of today’s technologies to make their client experience better, sets a RIA firm apart from their competitors by giving them a perceived technological edge over other RIA firms not able or willing to use everyday technologies.