Fight­ing the Fear of Change

Adopt­ing the lat­est fin­tech costs money and takes time, but the ben­e­fit far out­weighs the ini­tial cost.

Financial Planning - - CONTENT - By Nina O’neal

The lat­est fin­tech may be ex­pen­sive, but the ben­e­fit out­weighs the cost.

LAST MARCH, I RE­CEIVED A CALL FROM MY SIS­TER. “Your build­ing is burn­ing down,” she said. “Turn on the news.” I watched in hor­ror as a mas­sive fire de­stroyed two tall apart­ment build­ings in down­town Raleigh, North Carolina, just one block from my firm’s of­fice. De­spite the shock­ing footage, I told her: “If the build­ing burns down, we’ll lose some com­put­ers and desks — it’s fine. We can op­er­ate busi­ness as usual to­mor­row.”

Over the last sev­eral years, our ad­vi­sory firm has made an ef­fort to be­come a com­pletely cloud-based fin­tech of­fice. In the event of any emer­gency, any em­ployee can work re­motely from a phone, lap­top or tablet. As we’ve seen with some of the nat­u­ral dis­as­ters that have rav­aged our coun­try in re­cent months, im­ple­men­ta­tion of tech­nol­ogy that al­lows for busi­ness con­ti­nu­ity is cru­cial — and fully pos­si­ble.

With the evo­lu­tion of fin­tech, firms and ad­vi­sors can eas­ily im­ple­ment CRM and trad­ing sys­tems, fi­nan­cial plan­ning and risk man­age­ment software, and data stor­age ap­pli­ca­tions. Yet some ad­vi­sors think they don’t need new tech­nol­ogy. Oth­ers hes­i­tate be­cause of cost pains, lack of knowl­edge and a con­cern about be­ing able to in­te­grate new tools into their prac­tice. All of th­ese ex­cuses are in­dica­tive of one thing — a fear of change.

In fact, in a 2016 PWC sur­vey, less than half of re­spon­dents said they put fin­tech at the heart of their busi­ness strat­egy — a shock­ingly low per­cent­age given the ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy avail­able to­day. It’s also a lost op­por­tu­nity.

Last year, our firm changed bro­ker-deal­ers be­cause we needed more stream­lined tech­nol­ogy. Fol­low­ing the in­te­gra­tion process, we re­al­ized we didn’t have to re­place a staff mem­ber, who had pre­vi­ously left the firm.

The new tech­nol­ogy also saved time as we cut down on hours spent pre­par­ing for client meet­ings. More­over, cloud­based tech­nol­ogy elim­i­nated the need for clunky equip­ment and re­duced com­mer­cial real es­tate ex­penses. Of course, tech­nol­ogy costs money and im­ple­men­ta­tion takes time, but the ben­e­fit far out­weighs the ini­tial cost.

NAV­I­GAT­ING UNCHARTERED WA­TERS

For ad­vi­sors wor­ried about mak­ing the tran­si­tion to a new suite of tech­nol­ogy, con­sult­ing firms, BDS and in­dus­try con­fer­ences are all avail­able as re­sources to help nav­i­gate unchartered wa­ters. Uti­lize their net­work and con­sider work­ing with con­sult­ing firms to gain a com­pre­hen­sive un­der­stand­ing of the best tech­nol­ogy in­te­gra­tions avail­able.

At­tend­ing in­dus­try con­fer­ences helps. Most of th­ese na­tional or re­gional con­fer­ences have spon­sor booths where fin­tech com­pa­nies will pro­vide demon­stra­tions. Hands-on in­ter­ac­tions help ex­am­ine avail­able op­tions to cre­ate the most ef­fec­tive tech­nol­ogy stack for your firm’s needs.

Our firm has al­ready im­ple­mented such so­lu­tions as Risk­a­lyze for risk man­age­ment software, emoney Ad­vi­sor for fi­nan­cial plan­ning and client ag­gre­ga­tion, and Drop­box Busi­ness for cloud file stor­age.

Keep in mind that prac­tices may soon need to be cloud­based. In fact, FINRA Rule 4370 re­quires firms to cre­ate and main­tain writ­ten busi­ness con­ti­nu­ity plans re­lat­ing to a sig­nif­i­cant busi­ness dis­rup­tion. In 2016, the SEC is­sued a pro­posal to amend Rule 204-2 to re­quire RIAS to make and keep all busi­ness con­ti­nu­ity and tran­si­tion plans cur­rently in ef­fect.

The im­ple­men­ta­tion of cloud-based tech­nol­ogy, par­tic­u­larly as it re­lates to data stor­age, helps to sat­isfy the data backup and re­cov­ery el­e­ment of th­ese rules.

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