Best Use Cases for Tech

Pow­er­ful new soft­ware can help at­tract job seek­ers and re­tain key tal­ent.

Financial Planning - - Contents - BY KELLI CRUZ

Pow­er­ful new soft­ware can help at­tract job seek­ers and re­tain key tal­ent.

Most fi­nan­cial ad­vi­sors be­lieve tech­nol­ogy is crit­i­cal to the suc­cess of their firms. Af­ter all, the right soft­ware and dig­i­tal tools can stream­line many mun­dane but nec­es­sary ad­min­is­tra­tive tasks, thereby en­abling ad­vi­sors to spend more time with their cur­rent and prospec­tive clients.

That said, tech­nol­ogy is not with­out its down­falls. I’ve seen many firms try to use tech tools to re­duce the hu­man foot­print in­side their firms. While this out­come may be pos­si­ble in the long run, it’s ill-ad­vised. In­stead, tech­nol­ogy should be used to en­hance the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of your peo­ple — not to re­place them.

At its heart, an ad­vi­sory firm is a peo­ple busi­ness. The value the firm de­liv­ers to its clients is al­most en­tirely driven by its peo­ple. Just as ad­vi­sors look for the best as­sets to meet a client’s in­vest­ment goals, firm own­ers should en­gage a strat­egy for the firm’s hu­man cap­i­tal, and look for the best peo­ple to sup­port the firm’s value to clients.

It’s im­por­tant to un­der­stand that man­ag­ing hu­man cap­i­tal is about more than just com­pen­sa­tion. Ev­ery firm needs to lever­age a unique com­bi­na­tion of re­wards and in­cen­tives that works best for that firm, its peo­ple and its clients.

Your hu­man cap­i­tal strat­egy should cover the key ar­eas of man­ag­ing your team mem­bers, in­clud­ing re­cruit­ing and hir­ing, com­pen­sa­tion and re­wards, and the man­age­ment, de­vel­op­ment and re­ten­tion of em­ploy­ees. Tech­nol­ogy is a key com­po­nent of any hu­man cap­i­tal equa­tion, and firm own­ers and part­ners can use it in a va­ri­ety of ways to at­tract job seek­ers and to re­tain your key tal­ent.

For in­stance, con­sider the chal­lenges in man­ag­ing the new­est gen­er­a­tion of work­ers. They tend to place a high value on flex­i­bil­ity in a job. This doesn’t mean they don’t want to work hard. It means many younger work­ers ex­pect to have mean­ing­ful lives both in­side and out­side of work, and they want to har­ness the flex­i­bil­ity that tech­nol­ogy pro­vides to their pro­fes­sional and per­sonal lives.

This de­mand for flex­i­bil­ity can cre­ate a chal­lenge for firms. How can you pro­vide a flex­i­ble, open work en­vi­ron­ment, while also en­sur­ing a pro­duc­tive and en­gaged work­force?

Tech is the an­swer. The uti­liza­tion of tech­nol­ogy al­lows firms to in­cor­po­rate al­ter­na­tive work ar­range­ments for how, when, and where work gets done with­out com­pro­mis­ing the over­all client ex­pe­ri­ence.

De­mo­graphic trends in­di­cate that de­mand for al­ter­na­tive or flex­i­ble work ar­range­ment will prob­a­bly con­tinue to rise. In­deed, many mil­len­ni­als who put off mar­riage and child rear­ing dur­ing the great re­ces­sion may now be look­ing to start their own fam­i­lies.

Mean­while, those ag­ing out of the work­force could seek out flex­i­bil­ity to take care of an ag­ing par­ent or rel­a­tive. Such sit­u­a­tions can in­clude the fol­low­ing:

• Job-shar­ing: two em­ploy­ees are as­signed to the same job that is equiv­a­lent to one full-time em­ployee. Job-shar­ing must en­sure the con­ti­nu­ity of the work be­ing done at the same work­sta­tion to ac­com­plish

one full-time po­si­tion’s du­ties.

• Flex­time: a sit­u­a­tion in which an em­ployee works eight hours a day, but with flex­i­bil­ity in an their sched­ule. Some em­ploy­ees, due to per­sonal obli­ga­tions, or pref­er­ences, may pre­fer to work early in the morn­ing, or later in the af­ter­noon.

• 10-hour day/four-day work­week: de­scribes em­ploy­ees who work 10 hours per day and re­duce the work­week to four days.

• Nine-hour day/half-day on Fri­day: em­ployee works nine-hour work­days Mon­day through Thurs­day and four hours each Fri­day.

For all these sit­u­a­tions, there are a lot of tools to ease col­lab­o­ra­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion among em­ploy­ees. Slack and Mi­crosoft Teams, for ex­am­ple, are re­defin­ing how em­ploy­ees com­mu­ni­cate and man­age projects. Drop­box and Google Docs make shar­ing and trans­fer­ring files se­cure and in­stan­ta­neous.

Just hav­ing these tools at your fin­ger­tips isn’t enough. Be sure to use them! Put the nec­es­sary train­ing and sys­tems in place so that if a new tech­nol­ogy is use­ful, peo­ple can un­der­stand and use it.

Tech­nol­ogy should be used to en­hance the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of your peo­ple — not re­place them.

This al­lows your firm to eas­ily build teams and en­cour­ages col­lab­o­ra­tion across ev­ery depart­ment.

Un­for­tu­nately, there is still a mind­set that an em­ployee needs to be at their desk and putting in face time to be truly pro­duc­tive and con­trib­ute to the firm. This mind­set can pre­vent firms from al­low­ing em­ploy­ees to work re­motely or share a job. The key to suc­cess though, lies in cre­at­ing a strong, flex­i­ble com­mu­ni­ca­tion net­work at your firm, while si­mul­ta­ne­ously main­tain­ing ac­count­abil­ity.

How can you build ac­count­abil­ity into a flex­i­ble work en­vi­ron­ment?

Be clear and up­front with em­ploy­ees about their roles and ex­pec­ta­tions. To cre­ate this trans­parency, make sure you de­velop well-de­fined job de­scrip­tions for your em­ploy­ees.

These de­scrip­tions are use­ful tools that ex­plain the tasks, du­ties, func­tions and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of a po­si­tion. They de­tail who per­forms a spe­cific type of work, how that work is to be com­pleted and the fre­quency and the pur­pose of the work as it re­lates to the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s mis­sion and goals. Make sure to list re­quired tech­nol­ogy, in­clud­ing spe­cific soft­ware pro­grams, so­cial

Man­ag­ing peo­ple is about more than just com­pen­sa­tion. Ev­ery firm needs to de­cide what mix of re­wards and in­cen­tives works best for its sit­u­a­tion.

me­dia plat­forms and or­ga­niz­ing sys­tems in your job de­scrip­tions. This de­tail un­der­scores the im­por­tance of tech­nol­ogy in the roles, and ap­pro­pri­ately sets ex­pec­ta­tions for pro­fi­ciency in cer­tain soft­ware and sys­tems.

I en­cour­age firms to des­ig­nate at least one em­ployee as a sub­ject mat­ter ex­pert for each tech­nol­ogy sys­tem or soft­ware pro­gram uti­lized by the firm. These point peo­ple are an in­te­gral part of the im­ple­men­ta­tion of tech­nol­ogy. Their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in­clude in­ter­fac­ing with tech ven­dors, stay­ing cur­rent on soft­ware up­dates and train­ing the rest of the team. I rec­om­mend re­ward­ing these tech re­spon­si­bil­i­ties through your in­cen­tive plan.

Since most firms fall short of en­sur­ing that em­ploy­ees are fully trained on the dif­fer­ent soft­ware pack­ages they have pur­chased, I also sug­gest cre­at­ing train­ing goals and uti­liz­ing e-learn­ing pro­grams to en­sure em­ploy­ees are prop­erly trained. Af­ter all, why spend money on these pro­grams and pack­ages un­less they’re go­ing to be used? Goals and ob­jec­tives tied to tech-train­ing tar­gets can then be re­warded through your com­pen­sa­tion pro­gram.

Fi­nally, don’t for­get to in­volve your em­ploy­ees in the tech de­ci­sion-mak­ing process. Be­cause em­ploy­ees use the sys­tems on a reg­u­lar ba­sis and likely know them bet­ter than you, their opin­ions mat­ter. So­lic­it­ing in­put can help you make bet­ter choices. If they buy in early, the im­ple­men­ta­tion phase will go more smoothly.

It also will help to cre­ate en­gage­ment with your team that can lead to the re­ten­tion of tal­ent, by com­mu­ni­cat­ing that they have an im­por­tant role in the firm’s in­vest­ment de­ci­sions.

In­vest­ments in tech­nol­ogy can’t be made in­de­pen­dently from in­vest­ments in your peo­ple. Firms need to hire the right peo­ple with the right skills and put them in the right jobs. As a firm’s tech en­vi­ron­ment evolves, em­ploy­ees must also be trained and de­vel­oped to make the most of these pow­er­ful new tech re­sources be­ing put in place.

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