Independent RIA Says Filling Out Paperwork By Hand ‘Seems Silly’

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“When it comes to technology, financial adviser Jim Koch is truly a pioneer.” InvestmentNews

When a ‘technology pioneer’ says filling out paperwork by hand seems silly, people listen.

Founder and Principal of Koch Capital Management LLC, Jim Koch is an independent Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) in the San Francisco Bay Area. With a unique blend of finance and software development expertise from 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur, consultant, and portfolio manager, Jim’s ability to think critically about advisor technology is far from typical.

I recently sat down with Jim, a friend and user of Blueleaf, to get more of the story.

A big fan of cloud computing, Jim has dedicated the past few years to transitioning his office to ‘paperless’. A paperless office is one that maximizes the use of digital tools and technologies to eliminate the use of physical paper. He says going paperless is not only drastically more efficient, but also required to stay relevant to future investors.

“I believe more and more that the next generation of wealth management and financial planning clients are really going to expect a paperless environment in the advisor that they choose. Wealth management clients that will be fantastic clients in their 50′s and 60′s, are in their 30′s and 40′s now, and they’re so proficient with their mobile devices and use them prolifically.

For [the upcoming] generation, it seems silly to fill out paperwork by hand, and to submit paper-based forms to their advisor. They can do so much online and so much with their mobile devices today, that the perception is that they almost take a step backwards, back to a paper-based environment, just so they can get quality financial planning advice and wealth management services. I think that generation is going to be attracted by firms that are paperless and use electronic collaboration tools with advisors when seeking financial advice.”

He’s right. Countless studies continue to warn us that the upcoming generation of investors (and likely your current ones) will expect account information, documents, and reports to be accessibly both online and via their mobile devices. Manual processes, such as filling out paperwork by hand, are becoming less necessary and more… silly.

It’s not a passing trend. Financial advisors who don’t transition their services online will lose business to others who do. Tweet this!

So, how do advisors move to paperless? Jim had been looking into becoming paperless at Koch Capital for years before he made a significant move. He spent countless hours researching his options, looking “outside of the box” for technology tools that would make his paperless office a reality, and finally decided to approach becoming the process over time in incremental steps. The first three To Do’s?

  1. Secure online document sharing
  2. Online, automatic performance reporting
  3. Live, on-demand access to view clients’ held-away account data

To find out specifics for how Jim did it, the tools he selected, and the advice he has for advisors who want to ‘go paperless’, check out The 3-Step Transition: How Financial Advisors ‘Go Paperless’

Jim says the next step for Koch Capital is to “go all digital” with their model portfolio strategy presentations, fact sheets, usage scenarios, etc., and deliver them as digital media to clients and prospects. The goal here is to reduce marketing collateral costs and make on-going flyer maintenance easier.

What have you done to be less paper-dependent? Share your progress in the comments below!







Carolyn McRae Carolyn is Blueleaf’s in-house marketing guru. She writes on The Blueleaf Blog to make advisors’ lives easier, offering practice management and client engagement tips where and when they’re useful. Outside of the Blueleaf offices, she can be found running a 10k or cooking her famous chili. Chat LIVE with Carolyn on Twitter @BlueleafAdvisor!
  • Jeff

    I am going out on my own and leaving the wirehouse that I work for and going paperless is on my list of things I’d like to incorporate into my practice. Thanks for the article. I’d be interested to know what solutions work best for electronic signatures that are acceptable for ACAT transfers from other firms as well as filling out forms from 401k plan rollovers… Any idea? Thanks.

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