The Plight of the Advisor

The Tech Landscape

Financial advisors have a strange relationship with technology–the whole industry does.

Traders work with some of the most impressive technology in the world, but it’s a double-edged sword: Global trading has become so high-tech and fast-paced that the technology is outgrowing our our own faculties, as evidenced just this week by the single computer program of mysterious origins that managed to make up 4 percent of all quote traffic in the U.S. stock market last week.

Advisors, on the other hand, work with technologies so inefficient and clunky that it’s baffling: From thoroughly mediocre portfolio monitoring software, to siloed account aggregation tools… Add to that a heaping pile of recurring manual drudgery like billing, reconciliation, and quarterly reports, and the technological landscape for financial advisors looks pretty bleak.

And, for better or for worse, the job of a professional advisor is dependent upon these latent technologies.

Technology, by definition, is a scientific means of solving a problem, of performing a task. But the current state of technology for the average financial advisor seems to present more problems than it solves…

Where Habit Comes In

When I speak of inadequate technologies, of course, I’m speaking generally. The popular technologies for financial advisors are dismal, but we know that simple, functional, efficient technology is well within reach. So where are they? Why haven’t your heard of them? I suggest that your own habits are to blame.

Consider the following, written by William James in 1887:

Any sequence of mental action which has been frequently repeated tends to perpetuate itself; so that we find ourselves automatically prompted to think, feel, or do what we have been before accustomed to think, feel, or do, under like circumstances, without any consciously formed purpose, or anticipation of results.

What he’s saying is that we’re self-perpetuating creatures of habit. Take this generic scenario, for example:

There’s a periodic task, tedious and terrible, that just has to be done. So you do it, despite the pain it causes.

Initially, you look for a solution to the problem, but you don’t find one. So you hunker down and get ‘er done, and it’s fine. Just part of the job, you say.

Eventually, however, you stop looking for a solution. You accept the suffering, the burden of inefficiency. The time-sucking, hair-pulling task becomes routine. It gives you something to complain about.

And that’s when repetitive, tedious, inefficient tasks become BIG problems: When you stop looking for a solution. Because that’s when the blinders go up, progress halts, and you start wasting your own time. You’ve given up–accepted the status quo.

The Inspiration, A Solution

What I’m getting at is essentially a call to action. See your routines for what they are; start looking for solutions again. You need to step up, and your technology needs to be in stride.

I was inspired to write this post after this email came in from one of our users:

you guys are making billing almost fun……well, at least it’s not on par with tooth extraction any more….all the best….Jim

All we had to do was let Jim know that his Quarter 3 billing file was ready (our technology automates the billing process).

I’m not suggesting that we’re the only software that has this functionality, I’m just using ours as an example, because its what I know best and it proves my point:

Your inadequate technologies are causing you and your business to suffer.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Just because you’re used to the pain of inefficiency that your technology causes, doesn’t mean you have to subject yourself to it for another year.

Break your routine, see your habits for what they are, and keep your eyes open for a solution! They’re out there.

DJ DJ is a freelance writer, hopeful photographer, and social media has-been. He writes to financial advisors about lifehacks, science, technology, business and marketing for Blueleaf, a software that helps create dramatically simpler, more scalable financial advisory businesses. You can find DJ across the web (about.me/djswitz) or you can just follow him on Twitter (@djswitz)!