The Transformation to Digitization: A Journey Without a Destination
While the journey of digitization in wealth management might not have a final destination, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth the ride. It means the possibilities are endless and innovation never truly ends. As a matter of fact, we like to think of digitization as the vehicle, not the destination. While many firms are taking a reactionary position, that can be detrimental to the future of their growth. It’s imperative to strategize for this disruptive transformation. Here are 4 key factors to remember as your firm embarks on the journey of digitization:
Thomson Reuters’ report on Digitization in Wealth Management survey states that 68% of wealth managers feel that keeping up with new technology was the top challenge. Understandably, there are many things to consider as a firm, such as enhancing the client experience, improving back-office efficiencies, and meeting regulatory compliance. It’s important to remember that digital transformation is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t get caught up in shiny new technology that ultimately doesn’t have the capacity to move your firm closer to its growth goals. The foundation for digital transformation should always be what is going to help you better serve your clients at scale?
2. Build Your Roadmap with the Customer in Mind
Technology enhancements tend to have a domino effect. You may find that once you enhance one area of your business, it almost forces you to make improvements or modernize other areas of your business. For example, back office efficiencies can improve the client experience by putting the data in the clients’ hands more accurately, consistently, and on-demand, but to give them that data, your client-facing technology needs to be able to communicate it more effectively. Your technology roadmap isn’t just about growth over time, it should also be strategic in ensuring consistency across all business lines throughout the journey.
3. Evaluate Your Technology Partners’ Ecosystem
While there may be a lot of disruptive ‘all-in-one’ tech startups with what appears to be polished technology, can they really help you build and scale your business? The number one complaint from most advisors about their technology is that it doesn’t work well with other technology systems. A digital ecosystem is a group of interconnected tech resources that can function as a unit. Understanding your technology partners’ ecosystem can help you predict the future of your firm’s technology transformation journey and whether they are going to be able to help you meet your firm’s goals. Look to collaborate with firms that are well-rounded with ‘best-of-breed’ technology that pull from other ‘best-of-breed’ partners to fill their gaps. You then find that you have an entire ecosystem that you can pull from as you continue to evolve.
4. Change Management
While change is inevitable, it can also be difficult to embrace. Implementing new tech can take years to adopt. However, this isn’t solely the firm’s responsibility. A good technology provider should serve as a guide by providing a roadmap for implementation – what to expect, how to overcome common challenges, how to get buy-in from team members and clients, and technology user best-practices. On the flip side, leadership has a large part to play to have successful implementation by embracing the new technology, investing in training, and spacing out upgrades and enhancements. Change management is a critical component in a successful digital evolution. When done right, you’re building trust with both clients and your team for future enhancements.
When it comes to digital transformation, there are big challenges, but also big rewards. Partner and collaborate with technology vendors that understand the road ahead and how to help you overcome some of the biggest hurdles – seen or unseen. Avoiding the evolution of digitization doesn’t impede its progress. The key to successful growth, scalability, and adaptability is making sure you’re getting in the right vehicle before getting on the road.
Alex Serman, CIPM, has been with First Rate since 2016 in a number of client-facing roles and is responsible for the strategic direction and growth of the Wealth Bank/Trust market. As the Managing Director of Wealth, Alex is driving innovation in both the products and services First Rate has to offer by collaborating with clients, partners, and his expert team of analysts.