On October 29-30, Fidelity held it’s final Inside Track conference for the 2014 season at the Grand Central Hyatt in New York City.
In one of the many education sessions offered to attending RIA firm executives, Mathias Hitchcock and Tricia Haskins, practice management experts from Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services, presented Harnessing Technology Effectively: Insights from the 2013 Fidelity RIA Benchmarking Study. They alluded to several key factors how ‘High Performing Firms’ leverage technology to “Be Greater", including:
High-Performing Firms Have Strong Technology Environments
High-Performing Firms describe their technology environments as strong but not cutting edge. They recognize the importance of investing in technology — but not to the point of investing in the “latest and greatest” technologies but rather seemed to favor proven technologies over newer, not-yet-proven systems.
High-Performing Firms Are More Focused on Client Experience
High-Performing Firms view improving their clients’ experience and satisfaction as well as new client acquisition as top strategic priorities--across all levels of the firm. These firms recognize to a greater degree that delivering a positive client experience can help generate referrals that could eventually lead to new business. As a result, they appear to be aligning technology with their strategic growth goals.
High-Performing Firms Are More Focused on Technology Integration
The study showed that 67% of High Performing Firms ranked integrating existing systems in their top three opportunities. This increased focus on integration as an opportunity implies that they recognize the potential benefits of a more streamlined workflow to a greater degree.
High-Performing Firms Are More Concerned about Business Disruption
But when asked what stops them from integrating systems, High Performing Firms said disruption to their business is the biggest challenge and are less likely to cite cost or skill set of staff. This suggests a link to their greater focus on client experience. If a system integration project is viewed as disruptive to business processes or the client experience, High Performing Firms weigh this risk more heavily.
Like many RIAs, even High-Performing Firms have room for improvement when it comes to technology. However, their approach yields several insights:
- While it may not be necessary to have “cutting-edge” technology to achieve superior business results, a strong technology environment may be a key enabler.
- Driving increased levels of system integration to accrue potential benefits such as streamlined workflows is a top priority for High-Performing Firms.
- Never lose sight of the impact technology has on your clients — improving the client experience and avoiding business disruption are critical for High-Performing Firms.
Much of conference’s focus was on ‘High Performing Firms’ and also included the “Be Greater: Why Being Good Enough is No Longer an Option” book launch. The book provided insights on becoming a high performing firm and chronicles the inspiring stories of more than 20 advisors who have taken their businesses from “good enough” to “great.”