How Family Offices Can Get the Most Out of Their Technology Solution
You know how to prepare your family office for a technology implementation project, but do you know what comes after your organization is up and running on the new system?
For many family offices, successfully implementing a financial technology solution is a welcome boost to their operational efficiency.
Saddled with modern, integrated tools and automated processes, family office teams can be more productive and more accurate. But while financial technology is an incredible tool, it’s only as good as your ongoing commitment to maintain the solution.
In other words, it’s simply not enough to implement a fintech platform for your family office.
To help you get the most out of your technology platform, we’ve come up with three tips to help you maximize your financial technology investment.
To some degree, implementing a new technology solution means having to relearn how to do your job on a new system. And while no one likes a drastic learning curve, the benefits of modern family office technology generally outweigh the inconvenience of learning how to use the new tools.
Case in point, when it comes to reporting, family office financial technology can benefit both your internal accounting and investment teams as well as your end-clients. That said, we acknowledge that nearly every family office has its own version of reporting and it can be easy to get hung up on legacy reports. But when you’re transitioning to a new reporting tool, particularly if the old reporting tool was Excel, formatting and layouts are bound to change. To soften this transition, we encourage our clients to take a step back and consider the data: do the new reports tell the same story as the old reports?
Most of the time, the answer is yes. But we also acknowledge how difficult it can be to abandon that old workbook in Excel. Now this is where the “embrace change” part comes in. New technology offers you a blank canvas and while you can spend your time repainting the same picture, you can also put that time-consuming, medley of Excel-based charts and graphs to rest and introduce a new package of clear, concise reports.
To help ease the shift from old to new, we recommend making time to sit down with both your internal staff and the family members you work with to discuss the benefits of the new reporting tool, address any concerns and introduce the new reporting. By establishing value early on, you can expect greater buy-in and a quicker adoption of the new technology.
Never Stop Learning
As a part of our implementation process, we like to ask our new clients to create a list of roles and responsibilities.
Who will be using the system? What functions do they need to perform inside of the platform? What types of reports do they need to generate?
This information helps us train our clients on the functionality that is pertinent to their role. But one of the most common mistakes we see in the technology space is abandonment. Once the technology solution is implemented and the users know how to perform their job functions inside of the system, they settle into their routines and they plateau.
We tend to see this manifest in two ways: failure to stay up-to-date on the system’s capabilities and reluctance to address small issues that require manual fixes or workarounds.
Let’s start with the workarounds. An example might be a bank fee that comes in automatically every month that gets posted to the wrong account. Instead of manually fixing the entry each month, most technology providers would rather you reach out to the support team to help you fix the issue once and for all. Put it this way, if you spend two minutes per day manually correcting the issue this means that over the course of the year you’re spending an entire workday using a workaround.
2 minutes per day = 10 minutes per week
10 minutes per week x 52 weeks = 520 minutes
520 minutes / 60 minutes per hour = ~8.5 hours per year spent on a workaround
Whether you spend an hour reverting the books to fix a bad entry or dedicate an hour to learning a new tool that allows you to achieve the same result more quickly, you ultimately save yourself 7.5 hours that can be put towards a better use of your time.
That said, you may never know new tools exist if you don’t stay informed.
Ongoing product education is key to maximizing your technology investment, but it’s on you and your teammates to take full advantage of the education opportunities your technology provider offers. Read release notes and product documentation, attend user conferences and networking events and, by all means, ask for training when it’s needed. These educational resources are designed to help you succeed, which at the end of the day is the number one priority of any fintech firm worth its salt.
Leverage Supplemental Tools
It’s the job of a salesperson to sell you a solution that goes beyond satisfying your basic requirements, so when you first begin implementing a new fintech platform, it can be easy to get ahead of yourself. It’s only natural to want to test drive your shiny new toy, but it’s incredibly important to establish a solid foundation before you begin tinkering with the bells and whistles.
Start simple with the core tools. Using the Archway PlatformSM as an example, this includes defining your chart of accounts, learning how to use the investment and bank account information delivered via automated data feeds and establishing your reporting output. This may also include more specific types of functions like cutting checks or tracking intercompany loans, depending on the scope of your initial requirements.
Once you’ve become comfortable with the essential tools of the system, you can consider some of the “nice-to-have” features that you were originally sold on. Examples of supplemental tools to consider include:
- Asset modeling tools that define investment allocation models and allow you to produce target-to-actual reporting
- Automated fee billing capabilities that automatically calculate and bill client fees based on a variety of asset-based fee calculation methods
- Budgeting tools that allow you to create multiple budgets that can be used for budget-to-actual comparison
- Client portal technology that provides an interactive, mobile reporting dashboard for family members and end-clients
- Reconciliation screens that enable you to compare position-level and account-level activity within the system against an external data source to ensure data accuracy
- Report batching and scheduling functionality that allows you to save report configurations and establish recurring report schedules
In addition to supplemental tools, some technology firms also offer ad hoc services that can be leveraged to help your team be more efficient. If you find that your organization is spending an inordinate amount of time reconciling data, paying bills or processing partnership allocations, it may be worth considering whether business process outsourcing (BPO) could be a good fit for your team. In our case, SEI Family Office Services offers a variety of outsourced services that our clients can use on a standalone basis or in conjunction with their in-house operations teams.
Regardless of what technology solution you choose to implement, remembering these tips can help you and your team get the most out of your new fintech platform and ensure that your investment doesn’t go to waste.
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Sales Director – SEI Family Office Services
Having been with SEI since 2012, Marissa is currently a member of the Business Development team where she serves as a client advocate and focuses on building relationships with current and prospective system users. In this role, she is responsible for educating clients on SEI's full suite of family office solutions and ensuring that each client leverages the right combination of products and services for their firm. She also leads the firm’s IMMERSION User Conference series and provides ad-hoc client training. Prior to her current role, Marissa formed the SEI Family Office Services Training team where she was instrumental in developing the New Hire Online Training, evolving the firm’s online product documentation and enhancement notices and managing the Client Support Portal. Marissa also held positions on SEI's Implementation and Client Relations Support teams.
Marissa holds a Bachelor of Science in Finance from the Lacy School of Business at Butler University. Outside of SEI, Marissa enjoys volunteering in the community as a member of the Junior League of Indianapolis, attending Butler Basketball games and traveling with her husband.