Many wealth management firms are feeling pressure building on all sides. An aging investor base, the growth of robo-advisors and other low-touch solutions, industry consolidation, market uncertainty...the list of things to worry about seems to grow longer by the day.
In this climate, even established firms can’t afford to be complacent. To attract younger investors and advisors, compete with low-cost apps, and ensure their firm is a shark and not a minnow, decision makers must find new ways to supercharge their firms — whether by improving performance, cutting costs, or both.
One word: digital.
A successful wealth management operation is the sum of thousands of interactions and transactions between investors, advisors, and the back office. When even a small number of these moving parts aren’t working smoothly, that can cause the entire system to feel slow and inflexible.
Sometimes, all a rusty machine needs is a little WD-40. For broker-dealers and RIAs, that missing magic ingredient is digital operations.
Going digital unlocks new options for wealth management firms who are looking to shake off old inefficiencies. In this article, we’ll identify some of these options. These are not easy changes, but each of them can help transform a stagnant organization into a lean, agile, future-proof firm.
Cut inefficient phone calls.
How much does a phone call cost? Considering what stopping what one’s doing to answer a ringing phone does to productivity, the answer could be higher than you realize.
At firms that still use fax and mail-based systems for submitting business, there can be a lot of phone traffic between advisors and the back office. Many of those phone calls are inquiries from advisors about the status of their business.
Implementing a digital system for opening and maintaining client accounts has enabled some broker-dealers to dramatically reduce the amount of time their employees spend on the phone. When a firm gives advisors the ability to go online and check on the status of business at any time, call volume decreases rapidly.
In addition, adding certain functions to a firm’s website or advisor portal can help reduce phone traffic. Chatbots, robust help centers, and other self-service options can reduce the manual work required to answer routine questions.
Eliminate the mailroom.
If your firm can implement digital front-to-back office operations and convince advisors to actually use the new technology, you might be able to eliminate the mailroom completely.
Because mailroom employees have to be on location, this work can’t be outsourced, and therefore it can be a significant drag on a broker-dealer’s bottom line. Reducing the number of low-skilled resources necessary to receive and sort mail can free up desperately needed funds for new projects.
Ensure productivity in back-office operations.
Improving operational effectiveness requires seeing your office with fresh eyes. Which outdated processes are exhausting your administrative staff members, lowering their rate of productivity? For example, every minute it takes to go to the cabinet and pull a file is a minute that could be spent on revenue-driving activities.
By removing these processes and utilizing a cloud-based document management system (DMS), pulling a file is as easy as typing in a keyword or entering any number of specific values. In the digital world, work becomes fun again, and your staff is more productive, this allows the business to grow without the addition of more staff.
Become more mobile.
Would your firm be better off if it was based in another area? Maybe you’re interested in moving to a more tax-friendly state like South Dakota, Wyoming, or Nevada. Or maybe you’re interested in moving to an area with more to offer by way of recreation, education, and industry connections in order to attract better talent.
If your firm is digitally enabled, moving won’t have a big impact on your advisors. Because mail is taken out of the equation, the distance between the advisor and their home office is inconsequential.
Attract the best advisor.
Your revenue is directly linked to the performance of your advisors. When it comes to recruiting, broker-dealers should be focused on attracting ever-better advisors with ever-more-valuable books of business.
Convincing high-quality advisors to transition away from their current broker-dealer is difficult. However, if your firm offers a digital workflow solution that will help them have an easier and more efficient transition, it becomes a much easier sell.
Are you ready to reinvigorate your firm? All it takes is a little dose of digital.
Paperless technologies make tasks easier for investors, advisors, and back office employees. Even implementing just one digital workflow, like paperless client onboarding, can have an impact; when every instance of a process is smoother, faster, and less prone to errors, the cumulative effect can be massive.
About the Author
Mark brings over 20 years of CEO experience in the technology industry in B2B software companies, both public and private. He is currently the CEO of Docupace – following his time serving as a member of the Board of Directors for Docupace.