How RIAs can build a tech stack designed to support their team and their culture.
For RIAs, finding the right technology can be critical. Technology doesn’t just save advisors time; it can transform their practice and provide the infrastructure they need to meet their short- and long-term goals.
Building an RIA technology stack that benefits client-facing employees, as well as operational and more technical employees, can help build efficiencies across the business. What may not be as obvious – how advisors go about building that tech stack could help improve the firm’s culture and increase employee retention.
Growing an RIA Firm from the Ground Up
Advisors who have started their own RIAs have to take on a lot of work to support their business. For single-advisor shops, these advisors could be running everything: client services, portfolio management, reporting, business development, the list goes on.
As RIA businesses grow, these advisors often bring on additional staff to take on some of those responsibilities. Advisors may start by adding some administrative team members who can support the firm’s back office. As they expand, perhaps they will look to add an investment expert or a client services associate.
Pretty soon, the advisor can focus on the areas of the business where they can provide the most value, allowing the built-out team to manage other aspects of the RIA. While this is a healthy way for a business to grow, these firms need to navigate one key factor: the advisor no longer has their hands in every part of the business.
Understanding the Day-to-Day
Where we have seen RIAs encounter issues is when they have experienced strong growth and look to expand their technology capabilities, but only focus on upgrading the technologies that the advisor is using every day. Once advisors stop working on every part of their business, it becomes more difficult for them to recognize where the firm’s tech may be falling short and what opportunities may exist to streamline business functions.
At their core, advisors who decide to launch RIAs are entrepreneurs. They are used to making significant decisions for their business and like to control the direction of their firm.
The truth is that they can’t make every decision for the firm alone – they need input from their team. If an advisor isn’t handling trading, reporting, or billing, how will they make an informed decision about their trading, reporting, or billing technologies?
Advisors should take the time to listen to their employees who are tackling these functions every day to better understand what is working and what could be improved.
Involving the Team in the Technology Hunt
When considering changing or adding a new technology provider for an RIA’s roster, it’s important that the firm’s decision-makers involve the full team early on in the process.
Take, for example, an RIA that is interested in moving to a new custodial services provider. RIA custodian technology is far reaching and can impact an advisory firm in wide range of ways.
The RIA should consider starting their search with a full team meeting. Sit down with all internal stakeholders and begin a dialogue about what traits they would like to see in their next custodial services provider.
For the advisor, that could be streamlined CRM capabilities to easily access client information on-the-fly. For portfolio managers, they may be looking for advanced trading capabilities, like model sleeve trading. For back-office team members, they may want access to a dedicated support team that can help them navigate challenges and resolve issues in real time.
The important thing is every team member has insights into an RIA’s technology – only with open conversation can all of those points come to light.
Compile and Leverage Those Insights
After those initial conversations, advisors and their teams should put those team insights to work.
In looking for a new custodial service provider, these RIAs should consider developing a request for proposal (RFP). Within the RFP, these firms can ask prospective custodians all of their burning questions to help make sure their next provider offers everything that the full team needs.
By implementing these full-team insights early on in the process, an RIA should be better able to sift through providers and find one that checks the right boxes. This not only can benefit the business, but the firm’s culture as well.
Retaining Talent and Building Long-Term Success
By actively engaging the team, even the most junior members, RIAs can empower those team members and help them feel more valued in the organization. This process can help hammer home that their opinion matters, their insights are valuable, and their work is appreciated.
Looping in these employees in the decision-making process can create a greater sense of collaboration. When individual employees can contribute to the direction and success of a company, the company's culture can grow stronger.
Finding talented employees isn’t easy. By focusing on building a culture of collaboration and appreciation, RIAs can ideally retain their current team and attract new team members to join as appropriate.
Is Your Tech Supporting Your Full Team?
We encourage all RIAs to frequently reevaluate how their technology providers are serving every department of their business. The technology in this industry is constantly evolving, and seeing what alternatives are out there is a great way to determine if your current providers are the best fit.
If you and your team would be interested in learning about TradePMR’s Fusion platform and white-glove approach to service, we should talk. We can dive into what your team members are looking for from your next custodial service provider, and if TradePMR could be the right fit to usher in the next stage for your business.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in March 2022 and has been subsequently updated.