How to Build An Efficient and Nimble RIA Practice
Timothy Welsh, President and Founder of Nexus Strategy, LLC, and Chad Christensen, Partner and Chief Compliance Officer of Semper Augustus Investments, recently co-hosted a webinar discussing how technology like enterprise content management (ECM) can help registered investment advisors (RIAs) remain competitive in a fluid and dynamic industry.
“We are experiencing seven plus years of one of the biggest bull markets ever, but one of the most pressing concerns is that it’s about to drop,” says Welsh. “The questions are when, and are you ready?”
The wealth management industry presents unique challenges to RIAs. In addition to the industry’s cyclical nature, disruptions are common. “RIAs had to adapt to online trading in the 90s, new regulations after the crash, and now robo advisors and even more regulatory changes,” says Welsh.
Succeeding despite these disruptions requires RIAs to be adaptable, efficient and nimble. “Our advice is to look at what you do every day—your processes—and ask yourself how you can automate them,” says Welsh. “While RIAs win as service providers and in customer engagement, robots have the advantage in automation. Take the best of what the robots are doing and apply it to your own back offices to become just as streamlined as they are.”
Strategies for Advisors
Adopt the best of the robos:
- Automate, automate, automate
- Focus on the client experience
Technology like ECM helps RIAs remain competitive by automating back-office operations that support regulatory compliance and client services. For instance, Semper Augustus realized the potential of process automation and completely transformed its firm using Laserfiche ECM.
“Once we began our transition, we realized a lot more of our work could be standardized and systemized than we thought,” says Christensen. “By automating processes like compliance, check lists and reporting, our efficiency gains have compounded over time.”
While examining existing processes, Christensen realized that many seemingly ad hoc processes were actually recurring tasks in disguise. “Most were customer service-related issues and responses to client requests,” says Christensen. “Knowing this helped us automate even more processes and save even more time.”
“As investment advisors, we operate in a highly regulated, document-intense business,” says Christensen. This includes all the incoming disparate information Semper Augustus receives, including:
- Physical mail
- CRM reports
- Internal database reports
- Statement downloads
- Emailed PDFs
Rather than keeping these documents in filing cabinets or stored in their native applications, every document is imported into Laserfiche ECM. Documents stored in Laserfiche can be saved as a certain template, which enables Semper Augustus to standardize how documents can be used or archived and helps the firm achieve compliance.
Documents in Laserfiche can also be easily searchable and retrieved by advisors. “The simpler we made the end user process, the faster and more effective our end users can do their work,” says Christensen. “For users and clients, speed implies quality.”
Focus on Client Services
At the end of the day, RIA firms can only succeed when they have excellent customer service. “A lot of what separates human advisors from robo-advisors is the service they provide,” says Welsh. “These ECM tools are meant to help advisors compete with robo-advisors while maintaining the human element.”
Employees can now focus their time on customer service and revenue-generating activities since many administrative tasks have been automated with Laserfiche. “I can meet our client’s needs wherever I have an internet connection, because all our firm’s documents for the last 17 years are on Laserfiche,” says Christensen.
“Efficiency lowers costs, which inevitably means more profits, and that’s what really drives a firm’s value,” says Christensen. “For Semper Augustus, I don’t think we could operate or grow our business without a robust technology infrastructure.”
To learn more about how Laserfiche ECM technology can help RIAs build an agile and nimble operation, download this complimentary InvestmentNews whitepaper, Eliminating Five Common Advisory Firm Bottlenecks.