As leaders in technology at nbin, what aspects do each of you
PL: We're two sides of the same coin. I oversee our digital platform in terms of identifying what features and functions are needed: What are clients looking for? What's working well and where can we improve?
GH: My team is focused on developing the software and infrastructure behind our suite of tools. I work closely with the Product Team to understand what our clients want and then implementing robust and reliable technology that meets those needs.
Advisors who are considering independence have many options to explore. What types of technologies do they need?
PL: It's a big shift to go from having a managed set of standard enterprise tools to making the selections yourself this process can be exciting and even eye-opening! We can break things down into a few broad categories to get the discussion going.
Client management and engagement:
In your new business, you're going to need to build and manage client relationships. You'll require tools such as client onboarding, customer relationship management, digital marketing, and client communication management and reporting.
Investment planning and management:
Of course, this is the bread and butter! Whether it's managing standard or bespoke models, or providing holistic advice, the days of one-size-fits-all software are in the past. Take some time to assess how the technology options fit into your vision of how you want to structure your investment activities. For example:
- Planning - What are you focussed on: goals, cashflow or tax?
- Rebalancing - Do you want to include tax loss harvesting, cash management and trading integration?
- Performance reporting - Do you prefer standard or customizable reporting, dashboarding, or analytical drill-downs?
These are the tools you'll need to run the business itself, outside of client management and investment management. Things like: risk management, compliance, accounting, fee management and pay roll. All entrepreneurs require this foundation, but in our business especially, advisors will need that support to be able to maintain regulatory compliance, manage risk, and see holistically how the business is doing.
From the perspectives of performance and reliability, what should portfolio managers be looking for in their software?
GH: That's a great question, and a complicated one. Some elements are obvious; others are "hidden".
First and foremost, you want to look for efficient workflow. Intuitive software that facilitates your work with the fewest mouse clicks possible shows that the developers were thinking about you when they designed it. Functions should be easy to find and the steps built into the system should match the steps you take to get your work done.
But, a great system is more than a strong design. Often the hardest work goes into the stuff that people can?t see ? the infrastructure behind the interface. The analogy of a house is a good one. A house may look beautiful from the street, but without pipes for water, plumbing and gas, and without wiring for electricity, it wouldn't have much value because you couldn't live in it. In the case of software, this means things such as always seeing the right data at the right time, being able to search for information easily, and being notified when you need to take action.
In terms of infrastructure, it's important to get feedback from the system. This helps you to work with your customers and get an understanding of the status of your work as it is being processed. Reliability is another indicator of performance. The system should function without any failures or interruptions and provide you with a fast delivery. Also, security is essential. You need to ensure your systems are protected from hackers, malware and other threats, and that you have full control over who has access to your software.
There's a lot for wealth managers to think about. What is the best place to start, in terms of selecting technology?
PL: The best place to start is by doing some research. Get out there and talk to vendors. Let them show you what they are capable of, taking into account the considerations we've outlined here alongside your own preferences for technology strategy and spend.
What's on the horizon of nbin's technology roadmap?
GH: Both mine and Penny's teams are obsessed with understanding how our clients work. Our belief is that if we can build a comprehensive platform that lets you do everything you need to do quickly and accurately, all in one place, then technology becomes a strategic advantage for you as you decide to go independent. We currently have a big initiative underway to further improve user experience and to provide more innovative features. The project includes upgrading all of that "plumbing" I mentioned earlier.
PL: As Canada's leading custodian and carrying broker, we have a commitment to be at the forefront of wealth technology innovation, to lead the conversations in making these innovations available, and to help alleviate the burden of implementing technology so that you can focus on your business whilst having a competitive edge in technology. From portfolio management to digital client engagement and everything in between, NBIN has an exciting roadmap ahead to grow our digital ecosystem to support your journey to independence.
We've supported a number of advisors who have made the transition to independence. If you are interested in learning more, chat with us.