Cultivating your tech strategy: Tips from other advisors

Digital tools can help you run your firm more efficiently, reduce costs, and give your clients a simpler experience. But one thing technologies can't do is tell you how to find the right tools for your firm's goals and optimize your investment.

We asked four advisors who have embraced technology for their insights on becoming a digital-forward firm. Here's a sampling of their advice. Be sure to check out the full case studies for more detail.

Harness the power of your CRM

Harness the power of your CRM

Some firms use their customer relationship management system (CRM) to store client data and little else. Calling their CRM "the heartbeat of our organization," Jamie Wilson believes advisors should think bigger. Much bigger.

Jamie's advice

  • Build as many workflows as you can into your CRM. By going all in, you'll deliver great client experiences and save a lot of time in the end.
  • Build with integration in mind. Add applications only if they play well with your CRM and other systems. That will help you boost efficiency, save time, and minimize errors.
  • Don't be afraid to explore new technology. Keep asking, is there a better CRM? Can we make the client and employee experiences better? Schwab's consultants and resources can help you think through these decisions.
Jamie Wilson: If it isn’t in our CRM, it didn’t happen.

Read how Jamie's firm embraced technology and transformed client service with its CRM.

Use your tools to their full potential

Illustration showing women choosing among many technologies

Deciding which technologies to use can feel like a make-or-break decision to smaller firms. Stephanie Barnier recommends focusing on efficiency and workflows first, so you have more time to deepen client relationships.

Stephanie's advice

  • Get the most out of the tools you have in place. Don't stack up a bunch of technology just to have it. Learn how to increase efficiency and improve workflows with your current tools first, then think about new investments.
  • Focus on automating routine tasks to save time, such as client invoicing. It will make invoicing faster and easier—and your clients won't miss paper statements.
  • Build infrastructure early to save pain later. There's usually some back-end work involved when starting up a new technology in your firm, but you won't regret it once the benefits start flowing.
Stephanie Barnier: Our investment in technology has paid big dividends for our business.

Learn how Stephanie's firm made digital tools the default option for clients.

Adopt a digital mindset across the firm

How can a team of paper pushers become a tech-savvy firm? According to Matt Reiner, it comes down to giving everyone a stake in the process.

Matt's advice

  • To build a digital company, build a digital culture. Empower everyone in your firm to suggest changes in your digital processes or take the lead on new digital tools. Treat your successes—and failures—as learning opportunities.
  • Assign a project owner for each project. Give this person primary responsibility for working with vendors and Schwab to integrate the technology, train others in your firm, and troubleshoot early issues.
  • Don't try to do too much too quickly. Focus on one business vertical at a time. Consult with Schwab's tech experts to make sure you're investing in technology your firm actually needs.
Matt Reiner: We instilled what we call a Culture of Learning

Read how Matt's firm successfully tackled DocuSign integration during COVID-19.

Put clients first in your digital decisions

Most firms view their tech investments through a cost-benefit lens. But Mike McCann says technology can also be measured by answering a simple question: Am I making the client experience better?

Mike's advice

  • Make clients your North Star. Put them at the center of your decision making by focusing on tools that help you improve client relationships.
  • Invest early in case of disruption. By digitizing trading and day-to-day work now, you'll be able to give clients your full attention in a crisis. You don't want to be bogged down learning new tools when your clients are worried about their futures.
  • Log your clients' stories in your CRM—not just their data. Include items like family relationships, key notes, recent emails, portfolio allocations, and other bits of client info. It will help your colleagues keep up a high level of service if you're not available.
Mike McCann: It’s not about portfolios. It’s about all the other aspects of a client’s life

Check out how Mike's firm used an annual ADV update to help clients transition to digital.

What you can do next