Ten years ago today:
Alexa was the name of a person, not a virtual listening assistant
Netflix was sending out ~12 million DVDs per week
Instacart, DoorDash, and GrubHub were not delivering food
iPad, Fitbit, Instagram, and Venmo had not yet celebrated their third birthdays
Taxis were still a thing
Your phone was 3g
Blackberry was coming off a year where it did ~20billion in revenue
The software you purchased for your practice was cutting-edge
Transforming a business through technological upgrades is one of the most important initiatives any business can undertake to stay competitive in today's marketplace. Sticking within your comfort zone, resisting change (Blockbuster, Blackberry), and not adapting can lead to devastating consequences for business owners.
By embracing change, digitizing processes, and automating workflows, companies can lead their industry, remain competitive, reduce costs, improve efficiency, and increase profits.
But making a digital and technological change is not easy – it requires an effective strategy for evaluating options and selecting the best solution and a transition away from the old, inadequate software that may be taking up space in your technology stack. Fortunately, for advisory firms, developing a clear vision and strategy is a core competency to being a successful advisor and a skill that comes naturally.
However, when it comes to identifying the right software to meet business and client growth goals, advisors get stuck. The painful process that advisors went through when selecting software 5, 10, or 15 years ago is etched in their memory, and the industry is also full of stories about prolonged or failed conversions into new software platforms.
To stay relevant and competitive in this digitized world, advisors must make an honest assessment about whether the software they use today is the right software for tomorrow.
That game-changing, innovative software application from seven years ago is not innovative in 2022
A conversation that no advisor is having today:
Sam Advisor: Jill, did I tell you about the client portal software that I purchased in 2015?
Jill Advisor: No, Sam. What was wrong with it?
Sam Advisor: Nothing, Jill. Quite the opposite. It did everything that I needed it to do then and does everything that I need it to do today.
The benefits of updating and upgrading software are clear:
1). New software, new features. The 2021 SIM “IT Trends Study” shows the second most worrisome issue for IT managers is the alignment of software/IT and business objectives. By using legacy software that is more than five years old, you are missing new features and other important functionality included with modern applications. Software in 2022 is designed to meet the needs of the digital transformation that is shaping how business owners operate. That means modern software is leveraging data and analytics for greater insights, more automation, and artificial intelligence to streamline manual tasks, and a greater focus on enhancing the digital and mobile experience for you, your staff, and your clients.
2). Updating your software ensures business continuity. For a business to maintain continuity, it is important that upgrades to the software and other systems are made in a timely and effective manner. By neglecting to upgrade, businesses put themselves at risk for data loss and system crashes. Upgrades ensure that the latest security features are in place and that the system is running as efficiently as possible. This allows businesses to continue operations without any interruption. In addition, upgrading can result in cost savings due to more efficient operations via new feature releases.
3). Save money while you increase your ROI. Upgrading to a new software platform, or simply upgrading your current version of the software, can help your business run more smoothly and efficiently, saving you time and money overall. A white paper by Avanade US shows IT managers believe modernizing software can reduce costs by an average of 13% and boosts revenue by an average of 14%. While 80% of the IT managers surveyed believe that taking no action in modernizing software will have a negative impact on business operations and growth. Results of a survey conducted by the research firm IDG show 65% of IT managers and business owners reported “significant business benefits” after modernizing their software.
If the benefits of modern software are clear and understood by most business professionals, why are so many small to medium-size wealth management firms still running legacy software?
Based on our experience helping advisors modernize their software, the reasons for not adopting new software are a mix of the following:
1). The advisor was concerned about the unknown costs of upgrading.
2). The advisor heard stories about conversion taking a year or more and was concerned about the compatibility of their existing data with the new software.
3). Unfamiliarity with the new features and functionality, and no clear plan to adopt and train staff on the new modern software.
4). Finally, advisors have shown concern about the possibility of downtime during the upgrade process.
I will do it tomorrow
Advisors are clear on the need to modernize their software, but they hesitate due to the unknowns that are deep in the details of a software upgrade. So, the advisor delays and puts the decision on the backburner, and delays again, which is not as bad as the firm that makes an automatic decision to buy the shiny new software that everyone is talking about. While delays are bad, simply buying the market leader can have a worse outcome for a business over the long run.
You see, upgrading or purchasing new modern software requires more than going to the checkout cart, or calling back the sales rep that has been selling you features and benefits over the past 6 months. Your success or failure in modernizing your software stack boils down to your plan.
You are great at creating plans for your clients. Modernizing your software requires that same planning approach.
Your goal in moving forward with a modern software upgrade is about making your operation more adaptable, efficient, and scalable. And swapping out one legacy system for a new modern software application requires planning that includes:
1). Define all your needs, such as: Why are you upgrading your software? What problems will the new software solve? What features are must-haves and what features are nice-to-haves? What is your budget? Do you require a data conversion? If yes, ask for referrals and speak with them about their experience moving to the new software platform. Do you require ongoing training for clients and staff? How important is system integration between the new software and your other systems?
2). Do your research. Do not just focus on the market leader. Once you have defined your needs, now you can begin evaluating and researching viable solutions. Read reviews and speak with peers about the systems they use or the system they have evaluated. Look on LinkedIn for groups that are discussing the vendor and their solution. Request a demo and get a free trial of the software.
3). Make a list and run through the features, benefits, and costs of each provider. At this point, you should also go back to vendors and work on the cost to implement the solution. If you have two similar solutions that check all the boxes, then you want to negotiate with each provider This typically only works for solutions where you receive a custom quote. If the software is a SaaS solution with monthly pricing on their site and a checkout option, the best you can hope for is a one-time discount to sign up. For anything large or enterprise-scale that requires a custom quote, put on your negotiating hat!
4). Hire an expert to help you plan, evaluate, negotiate, and implement the new software. There are a lot of technology and service providers in the wealth management industry, which makes it difficult to figure out where to even begin an evaluation. For many advisors, this mission-critical decision to digitize and upgrade to modern software is best left to a professional that knows the industry, the vendors, and other advisors that utilize the various applications that are available in the market. There are fintech consultants that help with this process, and it is a service that we offer here at AllBackoffice.
Upgrading or purchasing modern software can seem like a daunting task, but when done correctly it can lead to increased ROI and decreased costs. However, the process of modernization requires careful planning and decision-making that considers the business goals and ideal outcome scenarios. If you are looking for help with this process, our team at AllBackoffice is ready to assist you. We have over 10 years of experience helping advisors evaluate, purchase, and implement software upgrades. Contact us today for a free technology assessment, and to learn how we are helping financial advisors modernize their systems and improve their bottom line.