5 secrets of tech success

Advisors share their tips for adopting and integrating new technologies

Key Points

  • Have a clear vision for the reasons you're adopting new technologies, as well as specific goals.

  • Empower your staff and take a step-by-step approach to ensure a complete integration of any new tools.

  • Don't be afraid to require clients to adopt a digital relationship—most will have an easier time adjusting then you might expect.

Technology can free advisors from menial and mundane aspects of their jobs so they can focus on important things, such as spending more time with clients or growing their business. In the increasingly competitive advisory industry, that can make all the difference. 

Implementing new tech comes with growing pains and risks, however. And with so many potential tech tools to adopt, where do you start? How can you make sure new technology doesn't confuse your employees—or worse, intimidate clients? 

Consider these five tips for making your technology upgrades simpler and more effective. 

1. Define clear business goals for your tech strategy 

Technology has the potential to help you reclaim time to spend with clients, grow your business without adding staff, and expand the services you offer. But you want to make sure you are investing in the right tool for a given job. Getting clear about what you want your tech strategy to achieve can help you decide which upgrades to implement first and establish effective metrics for measuring the success of your strategy. Clarity around your goals and vision also can help earn buy-in among your employees, which is essential if your firm is actually going to use the new tech. 

2. Educate and empower your staff

Technology is always changing, as is your firm. Empowering your staff to take ownership of your tech strategy can help it keep pace. Create a culture of continual improvement that gives employees the authority to make suggestions, lead initiatives, and teach others how to adopt new technologies. These efforts can create openings for eager junior associates, potentially helping you groom up-and-coming staff for future leadership positions. Most important, remember that mistakes are learning opportunities. 

3. Start with a central platform or key task and build from there

Choosing one tool to adopt first can give you a solid base to build from. For example, you might use your firm's customer relationship management (CRM) software as the central hub for a digital strategy, or start with digital document management and work outward from there. A targeted approach, focused on one upgrade at a time, can also help make full use of a new tool's capabilities. And it can ensure that every department of your firm fully adopts the tool before you move on to the next new tech.

4. Lead with digital options in client relationships

Consider making a digital experience, paired with high-touch assistance, the default way you interact with clients. For instance, send out a letter telling clients you'll be signing them up for online access to your data portal, giving them the choice to opt out. Then walk them through the log-in process and show them the benefits and convenience of using the online portal. Explain how the portal is different and better, and then reiterate that you will be there to assist them every step of the way. 

In general, clients don't want to decide for themselves to make the jump, so it's up to you to just make it happen. Just know that the perception that older clients will be wary of digital tools has largely proven false, especially after COVID-19.

5. Learn from others

Take advantage of the many educational resources available to you, such as networking events, webinars, consultants, and other experts. Many technology platforms have in-house experts who have successfully rolled out tech upgrades across many firms of different sizes. Leverage their expertise and learn from their experience to help make your adoption process smoother. 

Finding experts like these, asking questions, listening to feedback, and constantly looking for new ideas can help you cultivate a culture of continuous improvement. And really, isn't that what technology is all about? 

What you can do next

  • Learn how to jumpstart your digital journey with Schwab's innovative tools.
  • See how your Schwab digital tools measure up to your peers with our technology adoption dashboard.
  • Consider a custodian that invests in your success. If you're thinking about becoming an independent advisor, contact us to learn more about the benefits of a Schwab custodial relationship.