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Unlocking Success: A Wealth Management Firm’s Guide to Effective Software Onboarding

There are more types of software for investment advisors than ever before. From financial planning and trading to marketing tools and billing automation, advisory firms require a complete tech stack to be fully competitive. We know a solid tech stack matters because we asked hypergrowth firms about their technology in our 2023 Firm Growth Survey, but one quick look at Kitces’ Advisor Tech Map can quickly scare the tech-saviest among us.

Hypergrowth firms reported using technology more than slower growth firms, often using their software daily and prioritizing their tech investments. While it’s clear that technology is vital to growth, implementing a tech stack can be a complex process. According to a report from BCG, a global business consulting group, only 30% of digital transformation projects succeed. The other 70% fail due to a myriad of reasons, including internal organizational changes, lack of long-term adoption, or even an initial failure to launch.

How can your advisory firm join that 30% who win with technology?

Free Download: Your Guide to Building a Technology Stack

In this article, we’ll cover key actions to set up your software correctly, no matter your solution. The following best practices can be used for every vendor you come across in wealth management technology. 

Map out your processes

Related: What Makes a Great Tech Stack?

Just as you need client account information to begin planning their retirement proposal, it’s important to write out your current workload and tech stack. It can be tempting to skip this step, especially if you are a solo advisor. However, fully mapping your process in real-time makes it easier to spot discrepancies, unnecessary redundancies, and inefficiencies. 

Generally, you’re going to want to write out multiple aspects of your firm, including:

  • Client onboarding
  • Marketing and advertising
  • Advisory services
  • Billing and taxes
  • Scheduling
  • Client follow-ups and communication
  • Continuing education
  • Compliance and other regulatory requirements
  • Partnerships with CIOs like local tax experts, lawyers, and other professionals

Consider each process’s first point and follow it through to the end. Some items, such as client follow-ups, may have multiple paths. For example, you will likely have different emails for following up with a client post-meeting than after resolving a client problem. You may also have different email automation for client satisfaction surveys, portfolio updates, and firm news.

Mapping your workload enables you to better determine what software solutions you need and will help you evaluate your choices. 

Assign roles

For firms with multiple advisors, delegating responsibilities from the beginning is essential. Assigning roles standardizes processes, helps you determine whether to hire another professional in billing or marketing, and clarifies security for your tech stack.

The security aspect is often overlooked. For instance, your client relationship management (CRM) software may offer different levels of roles, each with its own level of permissions. The Administrator role allows a user to view and edit everything, and so this should be limited to key stakeholders or the firm’s founder. You may want to assign junior advisors to a lower-level member that lets them only view and edit specific client data or the data they input. Your marketing consultant may have access to the internal portion of the CRM that contains advisor contact information but not the client data.

Evaluate software in terms of customizations and connections

As you browse software solutions for marketing, billing, research, financial planning, retirement planning, or another function, you’ll want to use your process map and consider the full picture. Integrations make it possible to reduce or completely eliminate redundant data entry, thus saving you time and decreasing errors. Customizations allow your firm to match software to your unique processes and create a branded experience. 

For example, using Nitrogen, you can integrate with every major wealth tech software. You will also want to review the level of customization for each software in your stack to ensure that your brand presentation will be consistent. 

Explore the software with test data

Mock data or a “sandbox” environment allows you to test software before you commit. This approach provides a chance to test the functionality, customization capabilities, and security of your new software without affecting real client data. 

Adding this step into your implementation process makes it easier to understand the software, see how it interacts with the rest of your tech stack, and train other advisors or staff members. 

Develop a training program

Related: The Top 5 Most Common Pitfalls when Onboarding New Tech

Selecting and implementing software in larger firms can be challenging due to the technology learning curve. Some advisors may quickly pick up on the new tool, while others struggle to remember basic steps. If you think you’re the only one facing this struggle, know you’re not alone. A recent study from LearningHub found that the top digital transformation challenge for half of business leaders is employee resistance. A training program can make this adjustment less stressful for everyone involved.

Often, your software will offer regular training sessions, free courses, or guides. You may also want to create an internal guide that takes your customizations, integrations, and user roles into account. It can also be helpful to provide employees with regular training sessions for the first few months of bringing on a new software tool. Advisors using Nitrogen have a suite of training options, including live chat, self-paced courses, events, articles, and more on 

Once your team better understands the new software program, they are more likely to accept changes in the process and maybe even suggest new creative ways of using your tech tools. 

Get feedback

Feedback from your team is essential to success. Keeping a pulse on advisor feelings towards your tech stack will allow you better to adjust the process, customizations, and training program. You may also discover new ways to optimize your stack.

Inform client when relevant

Client-facing software is any program that the client interacts with. Invoices, scheduling tools, your website, and emails are all common examples. However, when adding or changing a new tool, there can be discrepancies. Clients may be confused when an invoice looks different than the one they received the month before or if they’ve had a website redesign.

There should never be a question that your tools represent your firm. Letting clients know ahead of time that you’ll be using new software can help mitigate confusion. And, in the long-term, this level of transparency improves client relationships. 

Create a successful tech stack

Related: Industry’s First “Build My Tech Stack” Tool

Successfully setting up software for investment advisors demands the same process as developing a client’s portfolio: Research, planning, customization, and communication. Those who spend time assuring their team and clients understand how the new software will affect the wealth management process will see better results in the long term.

That said, a sound tech stack begins by carefully reviewing each solution, from investment management to CRM software. Ideally, you’ll want to ensure your software integrates with current solutions to maximize efficiency and reduce the learning curve. 

You may be wondering what this could look like in practice. Check out our interactive tech stack builder to see how growth platforms like Nitrogen can centralize client data by working together with other financial planning software. 

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