One of the most frequent questions that I received throughout 2020 was, “What types of technology do you use in your business?” Well, that can be a bit of a loaded question in my case. You see, we are technically operating three different companies that work in conjunction with each other. Therefore, we have many technologies. So, with today’s post, I’d like to examine some of the business technologies that I use.
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We all use various forms of technology within our businesses. It doesn’t matter what your company does, chances are you require some business technologies for it to work. However, depending on your type of business, that technology may look very different. For example, a dentist’s office will have specialized chairs for performing various procedures. On the other hand, a construction company would likely have excavators, backhoes, cranes, and lifts. We all rely on technology to make our lives easier. But it can make a huge difference in the success of our businesses as well.
Being a financial advisor is no different. I use a myriad of software and calculators to provide my clients with the best services possible. Additionally, these technologies enable my business to be efficient and to remain compliant with the various regulatory agencies that the financial industry is beholden to. So, what are some of these technologies?
Obviously, as financial planners, planning is a big part of what we do. But before we can begin planning, we must have clients. As part of our approach to generating new clients, we often use a system of email inbound marketing. To simplify this task, we use a program called Hatchbuck. Basically, this is a software that allows us to create an email funnel that gets people into our system so that they can become clients.
Through this funneling process, we use a program called Calendly, allowing clients to schedule meetings directly onto our calendars. In addition, when someone schedules with us through Calendly, we are given all of the information that we need to conduct our first meeting. We even use this system with our existing clients for their monthly—and sometimes weekly—meetings with us.
As you might imagine, financial planning can be a complex process. When you’re providing planning services for a couple of hundred clients, things can get sticky really fast. That’s why we use a software called Emoney. Although it’s an older program, Emoney is still used by financial professionals around the world. The thing that I like about it is that it is very cash flow and tax-sensitive. You can actually use it to show, down to the penny, what life could be like for an individual.
More than this, the software allows clients to link their personal accounts from insurance coverages to investment accounts, in order to provide an in-depth assessment of their current financial life. From there, we can show our clients what that financial picture looks like if tax rates change or if they have a life event like a wedding or sending their children to college. This software enables us to really dig deep into a client’s financial life and accurately predict what will take place over X amount of time when factoring in certain variables.
Anytime people are involved in anything, you have to account for the emotional side of things. This is especially true when it comes to our finances. You see, people have an emotional relationship with money. Think about it. Every time you walk into a store and see that item that you’ve just got to have, you’re exhibiting an emotional response that’s leading you to spend money. Conversely, whenever we experience a market downturn and investors withdraw their funds from the market, they’re reacting to fear and anxiety.
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It’s because of this emotional relationship that people often make investment mistakes. A big win in their portfolio might cause some to take unnecessary risks. On the other hand, a sudden downturn could make others pull their investments until the market stabilizes. Thus, locking in their losses. Neither of these emotional responses is good for the overall financial health of the investor.
This is why we use a program called Riskalyze. It helps us to determine what a client’s emotional response will be to certain financial events. In turn, this enables us to build an investment portfolio that is tailored to their individual risk tolerance levels. By crafting a portfolio that is suited to their emotional needs, we stand a greater chance of sticking to our investment strategy and, therefore, seeing optimal growth. Once we’ve actually crafted an investment portfolio for our clients, we utilize the portals of MorningStar and TDAmeritrade to monitor the securities that we have to deal with.
We have a monthly subscription model for our clients. They pay whatever their individual fees are, based on the level of services that they require, on a monthly basis. In order to keep track of our business’ billing, we use a company called Orion. This helps us to track and easily manage our billable accounts. In addition, Orion helps us to create an easily monitored system for our regulators to ensure that we are billing clients properly. Likewise, AdvicePay helps us to set up clients who utilize our monthly services with their monthly subscriptions.
As you can imagine, we have a lot of filing and client data that we are responsible for. Organizing all of that information can be a daunting task. Without systems like SmartRA, iDrive, or DropBox, we would require an entire department to file, organize, and share all of that data. Now, because we are three different companies operating together, we actually need each of these programs.
We use SmartRA to keep things in a compliant manner. It allows me, the Chief Compliance Officer, to review things for our team, ensure certain calendars are met for our regulators, and enables us to document all of these things. iDrive is used to securely store and organize all of our client files. Similarly, DropBox is used to share and communicate projects throughout our marketing team.
Having three companies operating so closely together, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is an absolute necessity. We use one of the largest CRM systems in the financial/consulting realm. RedTail Technologies helps us to remain compliant in all of our client communications. Archiving all of our client meetings, client emails, meeting notes, and text messages, RedTail may be one of the most important business technologies that we have in terms of protecting us and our clients.
The financial industry is one of the most highly regulated industries there is. As such, we have to retain and document everything. This includes all of our social media activities. For this, we use a program called Erado. Basically, Erado sits atop all of our social media accounts and it archives everything. It records every interaction and even takes pictures of our websites each and every day.
We use two different types of software when we engage in business planning. The first is called Value Opportunity Profile or VOP, as we call it in the office. Basically, it allows us to enter in specific information about the client’s business and it interprets that information into an unofficial business appraisal. While it’s an unofficial appraisal, the VOP software actually provides a pretty close estimate of the business’ value. Even better, it breaks down the areas that can be improved to increase the value of your company.
The other software that we use is something called Maus. Like VOP, Maus can provide a basic estimate of the appraisal value of your business. Now, it isn’t as detailed or accurate as VOP—think more along the lines of licking your finger and holding it up into the wind—but can still be a useful tool. It has a KPI system that enables us to measure our clients’ success as we move forward.
When we get into the marketing side of things, there are just too many business technologies for me to name. All told, we use somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 different software programs within this department. One example is something called VidIQ. It monitors all of the activity on our YouTube channel, providing us with detailed analytics that we use to improve the quality and reach of our video content.
Additionally, we use another program that hires people on our behalf to design certain graphics or to do video work. We could do all of these things in house, but it wouldn’t be nearly as efficient. When you’re looking through your own list of technologies, try to do so with a critical eye. Ask yourself, if this is the most efficient way. For example, I was visiting a friend of mine who owns a construction company. We were standing in his construction yard and I noticed that he had two different backhoes; a Caterpillar and the other, a Bobcat.
I asked him how efficient it was to have both makes, citing the recent move by SouthWest Airlines to use the same type of plane for their entire fleet. In doing so, they were able to cut costs and become hyper-efficient in their maintenance by only carrying parts for one type of plane. He said that he had never considered such a thing but recognized the value in it.
Friends, this is my challenge to you. We all have a fresh new opportunity ahead of us in 2021. Now’s the time to look at your business technologies with fresh eyes and a new perspective. Do they serve you as well as they could? Are you paying too much for any of them? Is your business more efficient because of them? We have the chance to reset our business and put it on track to succeed. But it starts with you. You must make the choice to look at your business in a whole new way. Is it as beautiful as you once thought it was? If not, we have the business technologies in place to help you make it as beautiful and valuable as you know it can be.
Friends, life was hard in 2020. But sometimes, that’s just the way life goes. Regardless, life is still good. Owning a business can be frustrating, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right technology and a qualified financial advisor, we can make improving your business at least financially simple.
We want this to be your best year ever. That’s why the team at Financially Simple is challenging business owners everywhere to put the principles that we teach into action. If you’re interested in taking part in the Business Reset Challenge or just need help getting your business back on track, reach out to us. We are here to help!