By: Ray Adamson
Technology is all about optimizing your business. It can be a strong enabler.
If distributor’s (MGAs and MFDA firms) have technology which is accessible to advisors and makes the distributor easier to work with—that’s a plus. The more a distributor is able to align their tech solutions with the needs of its advisors, the more technology becomes both a retention and attraction tool. Good technology has the potential to reduce the time that advisors, their support staff and MGA/MFDA staff spend on ‘stuff,’ and increase the time they can spend on more productive revenue generating activities.
So it’s no surprise that, according to a recent Investment News survey of 40 Independent Broker Dealers, almost 90% of financial services distributors plan on increasing their overall software spending in 2015. The survey also revealed just how those firms plan to spend that money in the coming year.
Which software solutions top their technology wish list?
When you look under the hood to see exactly what technology those financial services distributors are focused on, the Investment News survey shows three clear priorities: CRM, compliance and advisor support software.
A great CRM system makes distribution more efficient and builds advisor productivity. It organizes, automates and synchronizes sales, marketing, and service activities—making advisors more productive and distributor support staff more effective.
That’s why the Investment News survey reported that 29.8% of distributors were looking to replace their existing CRM solution in 2015.
But knowing the difference between any CRM and a good CRM can make all the difference. A good one needs to be able to handle both reactive interactions with clients, as well as to drive proactive interactions. And no matter which solution you choose, the key to making a CRM work is to understand what processes you already have and how they map into the system you’re considering.
Having a rock-solid compliance system is important enough that the Investment News survey shows that 17.1% of financial services distributors identified replacing their existing system as a priority.
Effective and integrated compliance systems can streamline processes—greatly reducing risk and increasing peace of mind. They make it easier to meet compliance requirements but great ones can also improve collaboration with the back office.
Focus on advisors
The Investment News survey also found that financial services distributor’s tech investment in 2015 will be heavily weighted towards supporting their advisors. More than 80% of distributors will invest in infrastructure, advisor productivity, and advisor service. And more than half will spend to improve the technology that supports advisors with their marketing and sales.
All of which makes sense, since the best advisor support software gives the distributors that use it a competitive advantage. It gives them an edge in advisor recruitment and retention. And it makes their advisors more productive.
So, what should you look for when considering new software solutions?
Whether you’re looking at CRM, compliance or advisor software for your MGA/MFDA firm, here are four key issues to consider:
1. GIGO—‘garbage in, garbage out’
Your systems are only as good as the data they use. Does the system you’re considering have the ability to constantly refresh data? Does it incorporate feeds from the carrier to the distributor, and from the distributor to advisors’ systems? Is the system capable of constantly updating the status of the data—whether it’s in-force business, or new business in the pipeline?
2. Activity and performance tracking
Good tech solutions will expand the metrics that you can track. Software solutions can give you the ability to track your performance against the productivity goals that you set. For instance, if you identify the target product mix, average sale, and number of sales per month you want to make, software can break down how many calls are need to get an appointment, and how many appointments you need to make the sale. In real-time a good system will track how you perform against those metrics.
3. Right-size your tech solutions
Keep in mind that less is often more. Be clear about what you and your advisors need, and don’t sweat the rest of it. Too many financial services distributors get bogged down in trying to implement tech solutions that have all the bells and whistles. They waste time, money and effort wrestling with solutions that are needlessly complex and don’t offer a big enough return.
4. One-size doesn’t fit all
Is your software an industry specific solution? Is the system you are looking at specifically designed and built for advisors? If not, you may be in for extra work and expense as you try to bend the software to your existing processes and needs.
Want to know more… Just ask me…
Chief Customer Officer
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