There’s little doubt that the technology you use within your business is becoming increasingly important to your success. Each year new regulations must be complied with, client expectations increase, and technical capabilities improve. But it’s also true that most adviser businesses have grown their ‘Tech Stack’ over many years, adding new applications, and dealing with different suppliers as new functions and services have come to the market. So, the start of a New Year is a great time to make sure your Tech Stack is in the best shape possible and that it will enable your business to have another successful year.
Of course, you might choose to do a fundamental review with a view to changing your entire Tech Stack but, if you want to do something that will deliver some positive value with relatively little effort then here’s a checklist of six simple steps that you can take :
Review what technology you're paying for!
Having worked for several of the leading technology suppliers it always surprised me how many of our customers were paying for applications that they never used or only used once in a blue moon! Of course, there might be all sorts of reasons as to why this situation might have arisen, but it certainly doesn’t make any sense to pay for technology that isn’t delivering any value to your business. So, the first simple step is to ask whoever pays your invoices to create an inventory of ALL your technology-related spend. Then work with your staff to review the inventory. I’d be very surprised if there weren’t some applications that have fallen into disuse or that you don’t value any longer.
Check that all of your staff know how to use your Tech Stack
With all the hustle and bustle of running a busy adviser firm, it’s easy to overlook the impact of people joining and leaving the business. It’s easy to focus on getting new staff up-to-speed quickly and failing to appreciate the loss of ‘corporate memory’ when more experienced staff leave leading to a situation where less of your Tech Stack is being used effectively. One of the biggest productivity investments you can make is simply making sure that all your staff are using your Tech Stack to its full extent and that, if there, are gaps, then you have some training plans in place to rectify the situation.
Talk to your Tech Stack suppliers
Again, in a busy adviser business, it’s often hard to find time to talk to your technology suppliers, to find out what’s new and what has changed. Most technology suppliers spend considerable time adding new functions to their software applications as well as working with other suppliers to develop integrations. Whilst some of these might not be of any interest to your business others could deliver significant value, e.g. a new, or enhanced, integration with your favourite Investment Platform could be a real game-changer. So, spare an hour or two to talk to your main Tech Stack suppliers to check that you’re maximising the value derived from their services and, if not, then get a plan in place to make sure you are.
Check that your data strategy is working
As the saying goes “rubbish in, rubbish out”. Of course, having a good Tech Stack, and getting your staff to use it properly, is a great start it’s also critically important that your data is both accurate and up to date. So, quickly review your data strategy and perform some simple spot checks to ensure that the data being keyed into your systems is accurate and that, for example, no expedient workarounds with unforeseen data quality consequences have been introduced. Maybe also look at the quality of any legacy data that you have. It’s better to initiate data cleansing activities whilst the business has time rather than trying to correct data on the fly as and when it is required or, even worse, suffer the consequences once the presence of inaccurate data has caused a problem.
Review your cyber security
As adviser businesses become ever more technology dependent then data and systems security also become even more important. So, if you have the technical skills in-house initiate your own review to make sure your systems and data are both as safe as they possibly can be. Ensure that items such as Penetration Testing and Disaster Recovery Plans are in place and that they have been appropriately rehearsed. Alternatively, if you don’t have the skills in-house then talk to your technology suppliers or to one of the many third-party Support Services firms that can help you in this area.
Plan to grow your technology capability
Finally, you should give some thought to how to grow your technology capabilities over the coming years. Most adviser firms would agree that the use of technology will increase significantly over the coming decade. AI will undoubtedly have a significant impact on productivity but so will other developments such as Open Finance, Data Analysis, and Process Automation. This means that the skills required to run a successful adviser business will also change so you might want to think about your approach. For example, you might want to recruit more staff with stronger technology skills, or you might choose to form a strong partnership with a specialist third-party supplier. Whatever route you choose it’s better to give yourself sufficient time to consider the issues fully rather than making strategic decisions on the fly!
If you would like to discuss any of the items listed above with the numerous Jigsaw Tree experts, then please get in touch here.
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