It’s hard to argue that our industry must adopt new technologies if we plan to survive and thrive in the coming decades. So why do so many financial advisory firms continue to resist this inevitable reality?
Two reasons. First, many advisors and firms worry that technology will replace humans, perhaps making our entire industry obsolete. Second, we simply haven’t prioritized technology on our lengthy to-do lists. As partners, owners, founders, shareholders, lead advisors or senior managers of a financial advisory firm, we have so much on our plate. We are focused on creating a vision for the future and empowering our people to realize every aspect of that vision. Technology? Who has time to think about technology?
Allow me to suggest that we need to flip our thinking on both issues. Technology isn’t a threat nor something that can be back-burnered. It’s the key to empowering our best people, meeting heightened client expectations, and achieving our respective visions.
The financial advisory business is a person-to-person relationship-driven industry. Always has been, always will be. No technology can replace our top performers and high-potential players. Our best people have insight, experience and interpersonal skills that can’t be replicated by any digital system.
What technology can do is enhance the capabilities of those irreplaceable human assets.
Remember that scene in The Avengers when Captain America asks Tony Stark, “Take that [suit] off and what are you?” Stark instantly replies, “Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist.”
Think of technology as an Ironman suit worn by your best and most-promising people. Imagine how much more your already-amazing team members could accomplish with the aid of tech tools that free them from time-consuming, repetitive chores, and improve their communication with clients.
One effective way to bring technology into your firm is by giving high-potential team members first shot at wearing the Ironman suit. Grant them exclusive access to the new technology. Task them with figuring out how to best use the new tools within the current structure of the firm to create the most value. Use their feedback to senior leadership to tweak these innovations before making them available to the entire staff. Sure, there will be miscues and false starts, but a commitment to iteration – trying, failing, and trying again armed with new insight – is essential to the tech adoption process.
This integration strategy allows you an opportunity to empower your high-potential team members by trusting them to tailor new tech to your operation and spread it effectively across the firm. This experience, in turn, gives them greater insight into your vision for the firm and the role technology can play in achieving your goals.
And with the up-and-comers doing the heavy-lifting of evaluating new technologies and their function in the organization, senior leadership gets to check-off the critical “tech integration” item on its to-do list with a much lower commitment of their time and focus.
You’ve got some potential superheroes walking your hallways. Let them suit up in their high-tech gear and get about the business of taking your firm to the next level.