“The advance of technology is based on making it fit in so that you don’t really even notice it, so it’s part of everyday life. — Bill Gates.
Sometimes, as Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs), I think we reflexive cringe when we talk about upping the tech we use in our profession. After all, we are in the business of creating and maintaining relationships – and there’s no app for that. But with the pandemic, creative uses of various technologies have come to serve our clients well and maintain warm relationships.
We embraced these new programs and platforms because of the realities of physical distancing, but they have, as Gates said, “fit in” and become a part of “everyday life.”
I have a technological tool I’d like to see added to this expanding list – Business Support Systems (BuSS). BuSS is different from the technology we’ve had to adapt to our practices. The reach of BuSS goes beyond a necessity today and can help companies expand their reach for years to come.
The concept behind BuSS is Artificial Intelligence. It uses machine learning, and a natural language processor to harnesses significant advancements that provide client experience enhancements and operational efficiencies to RIAs.
At its core, BuSS is a software application that automates business processes and integrates existing platforms used to service clients. The BuSS takes data from existing platforms and processes it to provide a consistent updated profile for each client using a systemized standard data model. With the normalized data, firms and their RIAs can leverage the synchronized systems to service client requests and automate almost any business process or task.
We don’t have to let go of our client’s hands – we just have to understand that holding them close may look different as our firms continue to grow and scale. With BuSS, the human advisor-client relationship will continue to thrive; however, the business of advice will change. Gone will be the dusty old manual and legacy technology upon which the industry has long been dependent.
As evidence of the utility, value, and sustainability of BuSS, let’s take a look at the velocity of some of the technology changes that happened in our very industry over the past year or so.
The elimination of trading commissions by several major players in the field in October of 2019 was unprecedented. This move set off a domino effect of tremendous industry consolidation; the weaker firms were acquired as their stock prices disintegrated. Industry pundits shouted from the rooftops that this would be the death knell for online brokers’ profitability. Not so. With the subsequent pandemic and market volatility, investors came to the market in droves, lured by the incentive of free trading.
More and more, we’re seeing the traditional competitive edge and differentiating aspect of independent RIAs being watered down as the major firms continue to expand their technology capabilities. But, we don’t have to buckle to the pressure of market behemoths. We can stand alongside the giants. We can choose to implement BuSS. By doing so, we will open a new world of firm growth, talent retention, enhanced client relationships, gains in scale and productivity, and an overall increase in business value.
Isn’t that what we – and our clients – want?
“Once a new technology rolls over you, if you’re not part of the steamroller, you’re part of the road.”
Stewart Brand, Writer