Efforts to achieve operational efficiencies shouldn’t limit the advisor’s ability to tailor advice and investment solutions to individual client situations. Sure, the relentless push to exact efficiency through platform-based technologies under the guise of, “letting the advisor spend more time with clients,” might well be achieving those goals. But, as so many systems converge to a robotically defined investment advisory singularity, all the colors that normally enliven the client experience turn to gray.
Our industry’s shiny technologies can quickly lead to generic and detached client engagements when relied on to replace the regular human interactions that occur across the advisory practice. From the careful shuttling of client paperwork to the design and delivery of investment solutions and the development, management and presentation of plans and results, the people all along the way provide the bulk of the value, not the technologies on which their efforts ride.
Of course, systematized operational workflows and model-based investment approaches can provide stronger foundations for advisory work. So, too, can financial planning platform solutions and harmonized reporting of results lead to greater clarity of and client confidence in financial plans and their outcomes.
But, how to make certain that the focus remains on the client, not the output? That is, how do we ensure that the technologies we deploy don’t lead to an unwelcome convergence of the client experience, thereby narrowing the potential to build solutions flexible to the innumerable scenarios we encounter and the dynamism with which even individual client situations evolve?
We have learned over decades of experience with a range of platform-based and customized back-office and investment-focused systems where such systems can enhance—or diminish—the client experience. Always with the perspectives of the client and the advisor in mind, our focus remains on the financial outcomes various technologies facilitate, rather than a relentless search for nickels in sofas to boost firm profit.
We are strong advocates of technology across the firm, with standardized systems for operations, portfolio accounting, investment management and trading. But, while we might outsource the technology, we insource the application of those technologies. The ultimate goal is to optimize the sometimes competing intentions of efficiency and customization in the contexts of client engagements with financial outcomes.
Of course, we continue to examine ways we might further bolster efficiencies across the organization. Still so critical, in our view, any potential gain must ultimately bolster the personal experiences our clients have with their advisors and the firm.