It’s hard to believe it is 2020. We have seen so much growth and change from a technology product
perspective in our profession, yet perhaps not enough progress has been made
for some systems. For example, back in
2010, desktop-based applications were
fairly common in an advisor’s office.
Now, almost everything is cloud based or
some version of a “hybrid” type solution,
leveraging installed components connected with a cloud environment.
Although you still might have desktop-based applications used by your
firm for many services, now is a good
time to think about the “state” of your
overall technology environment and
what your systems might require as we
enter 2020 and beyond. No doubt this is
a broad question, so here are some ideas
on how to approach your evaluation.
Tracking and Prioritizing Product
Updates. Take a look at all your technology systems and determine when the
last time was that each product received
a material update. Was it in 2019, 2018,
2017, 2016 or even earlier? Then, consider
the product’s level of importance to your
firm, and give it a higher weighting if it is
a more important system. Ideally, products that are more important to your firm
should be receiving regular updates and
improvements. If that is not the case, then
you have a clear action item for 2020.
Technology Risk Rating. Every technology product that you use involves
some level of risk. For example, the risks
could entail an application’s overall reli-ability, the level of importance to your
firm, the difficulty of switching products, the impact to your clients, or even
how well you and your staff understand
how to use the product.
It is important to manage the risks with
a technology product. Too often advisors
understand the risks, but don’t have a
strategy to mitigate or reduce the them
and suddenly the risks can increase and
become a problem that requires immedi-
ate attention. Therefore in 2020, make it a
goal to reduce your technology risks.
Requirements vs. Technology
Dreams. In 2020, you likely are considering new products: either entirely new
to your firm or replacements of existing
systems. Make sure that you start the
task with a clear set of defined requirements. Sometimes it is easy to get caught
up in the technology dream — meaning
what new features you will gain — while
not giving enough attention to what you
really need in your business. In addition,
try to keep time on your side by giving
yourself enough leeway to deal with any
technology transition — especially if a
product retirement or contract termination is driving the date.
Technology “Change” Appetite. No
matter what is on your list in 2020 for
your overall technology environment, it
is always key to assess the appetite for
change within the context and culture
of your firm. Some firms thrive in a fluid
change environment with their technol-
ogy (regularly introducing new prod-
ucts, adopting new features, learning
new processes, etc.), and others prefer to
maintain a consistent environment with
minimal changes. Knowing this infor-
mation about your firm should influence
what you decide to do or not do from a
technology perspective in 2020.
One thing to know for sure in 2020
is that advisors have more technology
options to consider and evaluate than ever
before. Advisors who have been in this profession a long time know it hasn’t always
been this way. This might be a blessing or
a curse depending on your viewpoint and
on your willingness to take risks.
You don’t want the increasing number
of options to overwhelm your decision
process, so be sure to lean on your business support networks to help with the
evaluation. And don’t be shy about asking other advisors for advice. I’m confident that you are not the first advisor to
face complex technology decisions.
Dan Skiles is the president of Shareholders
Service Group in San Diego. He can be reached
THE TECHNOLOGY COACH
By Dan Skiles
Here Are Your Key Tech Decisions for 2020
Don’t delay or ignore technology needs, system upgrades and replacements.