Capacity and compatibility are crucial considerations for any adviser business, says Mark Loosmore, so is it time to consider getting your own house in order with a technology rewiring?
Two things happened to me recently that have made me think about technology and how much we depend on it and take it for granted.
A few weeks ago a friend was telling me about some electrical issues he was having in an old house he had recently bought. One of the fuses kept tripping and he could not get to the root of the problem.
He called out an electrician who quickly identified the cause - the wiring in the house was old (almost as old as the house) and on its last legs. All the modern electrical appliances were causing an overload issue. The wiring had reached its capacity and simply could not cope any more with the huge demand of our modern electricity-dependant lives.
Then, last night, unable to quickly locate my usual phone charger, I plugged my phone into an old charger I found kicking about at the back of a drawer. A message popped up on my phone telling me the "device was not compatible". I had to go on the hunt again for a charger that would work. A small inconvenience admittedly, but this compatibility issue, and my friend's situation got me thinking.
The technology that runs an adviser business is much like the electrical wiring in a house. It is just there, running in the background and this is as it should be - the best technology does its job so well it ceases to be noticeable.
It simply sits there in the background, working to ensure your business runs smoothly and your clients receive the best possible personalised customer experience. It becomes front-of-mind only when problems occur and you get warning signs, much like a fuse tripping, or a little pop-up message telling you something has gone wrong.
Those warning signs should not be ignored. They could be indicators your technology infrastructure is reaching its capacity with all the third-party services and tools you have been plugging in over the years, or that some of the systems are not compatible with others you rely upon.
Technology helps power the engine of advice in any modern business, enabling its driver to navigate a smooth ride. But it does not matter how good a driver you are - if that engine is not firing properly, your client proposition will likely not be operating optimally. A ‘tripped fuse' in an advice business could manifest as a less than optimal customer experience.
Technology ecosystems can no longer be pigeonholed into back, middle and front-office operations. The current regulatory and business environment means technology and connected, consistent data is more important than ever. Flexible and scalable technology that is unified across your business provides a solid foundation on which to evolve and grow your business.
The things you plug into your technology infrastructure are transient - who is to say the most suitable platform today, for example, will remain suitable over time? Maybe it will, maybe it won't. You should be able to unplug one platform or system or tool and plug another one in and carry on about your business with minimal disruption.
So what of my friend with the dodgy wiring? Well, he was faced with three choices. He could have another fuse box fitted, but that might only work for a while, until that too reached capacity. He could stop using so many appliances at the same time. Or he could get the house rewired and modernised.
He had no intention of moving for quite a few years, so the temporary fix seemed like false economy. He did not want to compromise the way he lived by limiting the number of electrical appliances he used at any one time. So that really only left him with the option of rewiring. He is pragmatic about it all. He knew the house was old and in need of some TLC, and he is willing to make the investment.
So what about your business? Is it creaking a bit under the strain of all the stuff you have been plugging in over the years? If so, it may be time for you to consider getting your own house in order with a technology rewiring.
Mark Loosmore is executive general manager (wealth) at IRESS
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