The One Piece of Tech Every RIA Needs—But Isn’t Using
Technology advice for RIAs is everywhere, but most of it is wrong.
As the Head of Internal Sales for Orion Advisor Solutions for almost 4 years, I helped hundreds of advisory firms build out their tech stacks and I can confidently say that most advisors begin the process with good intentions but the wrong focus.
What I learned from that experience was that most firms were concerned with selecting tools that their operations teams could use to better handle internal workflows.
If you’re like most firms, you probably approach your technology selection process from the same vantage point.
If that’s true for you, though, you are building your tech stack from the wrong direction.
In today’s blog I’ll be taking you through the essential pieces every RIA firm needs to have in its tech stack— giving you a better understanding of which tech should be at the center.
The Right Way to Build an RIA Tech Stack
The right way to build an RIA tech stack is simple. But at the same time, not entirely intuitive.
It’s easy to think about the operational systems you have in place to handle your billing, trading, and data analytics and think that you need to address those first.
And you should address them—but you should put your sights elsewhere first.
The best way to build your RIA’s tech stack is to choose technology that will dramatically improve the client experience you can offer to clients.
Let me explain.
By improving your client’s experience with your firm, everything else will improve. You’ll increase their satisfaction with your service, thereby reducing the workload on you or your other advisors to service them.
And happier clients leads to more growth—by way of keeping existing clients and adding new ones. The average RIA has client retention rates of 95 to 98%, and if you want to be on the upper end of that range you need to do all you can to give clients differentiating experiences.
By now you’re probably asking — if I’m going to build out my tech stack with clients first in mind, where do I begin?
That’s what I’ll answer in the next section.
The Best Place to Begin Client Conversations
There’s one place where client conversations should begin today, and that is on the subject of establishing expectations on a risk budget.
Knowing how to calculate a risk budget informs everything else about your relationship with a client and how you invest their portfolio. It’s why we’ve built our WealthPlan Smarter Portfolios to be risk-focused first and foremost.
You can’t know how to accurately invest a client’s portfolio until you understand their risk tolerance and how much they’re willing to put into the game to achieve the goals they want. If they can’t stomach the risk they need to reach their goals, then you have to manage your relationship and their money behaviors with that in mind.
Risk software is also a much easier way to collect information from clients. Instead of scouring documents or interviewing them for hours, you can use risk tolerance software to have conversations and learn their story in a much more personal way.
So which risk software should you choose? Well, the great thing about working with the WealthPlan Group TAMP is that you can bring your own tech and we’ll adapt to how you like to work.
But with that said, we offer the two market-leading solutions, Riskalyze and Orion’s Hidden Levers, at reduced rates for our advisors. If you don’t already use a risk solution, we’ll help you get one stood up and implemented quickly.
The Other RIA Tech Stack Essentials
Once you’ve settled in on the right risk tolerance software to help you engage with prospective clients and keep current clients on track over the long haul, we can talk about the other essential pieces of an RIA firm’s tech stack.
CRM is a given. Everything else in your firm should connect to the CRM you choose. Your client conversations, billing, and portfolio management decisions will likely at some point flow into your CRM.
Most advisors use the CRM as their communication hub. Even though it’s the dashboard for firms, though, that doesn’t automatically make it more important to your tech stack than a risk solution. A CRM is internally facing technology; it’s necessary for your team, and it will boost your client service when you get it right, but risk is still first.
The other “must have” for every RIA is portfolio management. I’m not saying that from a point of bias since that’s where I got my start in the industry—it’s simply the truth.
A good portfolio management solution gives your firm the operational tools you need to succeed: Fee billing, client reporting, data analytics, and sometimes even trading. If you’re lucky, you can also use your portfolio management software to power your client portal and connect your risk solution as well for integrated reporting.
Keep in mind, you can’t build a good tech stack without integration between your systems. Sometimes, streamlined processes are more important than choosing the most feature-rich tool on the market. When we built our recommended software options for the TAMP, we did it with an eye on which ones could provide the most unified experience for our advisors.
You don’t want to waste your time manually entering information into different systems, and you really don’t want a client to look at reports where data doesn’t match. Our TAMP runs on a BYOT (Bring Your Own Tech) open infrastructure, but we also know which solutions to recommend if you need guidance.
So with that in mind, here are our top recommendations for the two most-needed tools after risk tolerance software—CRMs and Portfolio Management Systems.
You have a lot of options when it comes to CRMs, and you should be aware that there are two types: advisor-specific ones which may only work for your specific industry like insurance or real estate; the second type is more general.
This can make all the difference with pricing—advisors using non-industry solutions will likely save money and get features they need in other ways.
WealthPlan’s recommendations: Salesforce
Portfolio Management Options
There are more CRMs out there than portfolio management platforms, but that doesn’t mean you’re lacking for choice here either.
While all of these options are industry-specific, there is still a variety of what each solution offers. Orion is a close partner with WealthPlan, but you can also discover what you need from vendors like Advent, Altruist, Advyzon, and others.
WealthPlan’s recommendations: Orion Advisor Tech
Upgrade Your Firm with WealthPlan
If you’re looking for help with implementing technology to help you grow, look no further.
The WealthPlan TAMP has everything you need to build a client experience that’s second to none.
By Sarah Mclean, Director of Strategic Development