Linktank and atWORK
Three of SA’s leading tech experts attempted to answer this burning question at a webinar hosted by COVER last month. Read on for a rundown of the key considerations…
An Investment not an Expense
As Trevor Stacey, atWORK’s Business Development Executive, explained, “finding the right technology is fundamental for ANY business.” So much so that Nina Lowes of Linktank has built an entire business around helping advisers to choose the right software. “We help advisers to view investing in technology as just that,” said Nina. “An investment…Not an expense.”
Automating the process
As the flowchart above illustrates, choosing the right software for your business – just like choosing the right home or car for your family – can be both time consuming and costly.
Especially when many business owners don’t really know what they’re looking for. To this end Linktank has recently launched Hadeda Technologies which automates some aspects of the decision making process to make “it quicker, easier and less expensive for clients,” explained Hadeda Ambassador Robyn Clay.
What are the pain points?
Surveys conducted by Linktank show that there’s been very little change in the challenges faced by Advisers over the past six years. What’s more, 60% of advisers plan to revisit their tech in the next one to three years and a staggering 56% of advisers are dissatisfied with their current tech. While the individual challenges faced by advisers are of course illuminating, it’s important to remember that simply putting in the time and effort required to find the right technology solution can make all these individual pain points disappear.
APIs and Open Systems Architecture
While Trevor is confident that atWORK offers a superior solution for most financial advisers, he has come to realise that “we cannot be all things to all people.” This is where APIs – sometimes referred to as plugins – really come into their own. As a cloud-based software solution that’s built upon Open Systems Architecture, atWORK can integrate any third-party provider into its system, provided they have an API. This means that atWORK’s clients can quickly and seamlessly benefit from the latest software innovations around the globe. These include risk profiling software, e-signing capabilities, anti-money laundering solutions and much more. “Even if you don’t end up choosing atWORK,” Trevor says graciously, “Be sure to go with a provider that can integrate third-party solutions using APIs.”
Measuring return on investment in technology
Too many South African businesses are looking at technology as a “grudge purchase,” says Robin, “and making decisions based on price not suitability.” This is a grave error, as even small investments in the wrong technology will cost your business both time and money.
One of the most enlightening segments of the webinar was a short video interview with advisers who had been through the Linktank/Hadeda process. One explained how investing in the right technology has allowed him “to buy back time” for himself and his staff while another stressed the importance of waiting to see long-term returns (a concept which financial advisers should feel some affinity for!).
Trevor likened having the right software to owning a mobile phone: “You don’t realise how much you need it until you’re out of signal or the battery dies.” And he reminded viewers that the simple stuff – like a program’s ability to remind you when it’s a client’s birthday– is just as important as the fancy financial wizardry.
The quest for a truly client-centric solution
The panellists also discussed the rise in client portals , a topic which is especially relevant in the post-Covid digital world. Being able to have customers manage their documents and investments via a secure server is real win-win as it can save advisers significant amounts of time and money while also empowering clients to take more responsibility for their financial wellbeing. But Linktank research shows that “0% of advisory businesses we’ve come across have successfully harnessed technology to deliver a truly client-centric experience,” said Robin.
Trevor viewed this alarming statistic as an opportunity for atWORK to prove the power of their Virtual First philosophy. In recent months the company has seen a huge increase in “straight-through processing” where new business quotes are automatically generated and integrated into virtual documents which can be digitally signed within the system. atWORK already boasts a simple “client servicing portal” where clients can check information and documents, but in the coming months they will be launching a purpose-built virtual client portal that will “take the entire financial planning process online,” with no need for a bricks-and-mortar office, let alone a paper document.
The long and the short
All three panellists agreed that it’s impossible to overstate the importance of viewing tech as an investment not an expense and taking the time to find the right solution for your business. But to really get the most out of technology, added Robin. “you need a technology strategy which takes into account the bigger picture and the inevitable legislative and industry changes.”
While it’s impossible to predict the future it is very easy to invest in a system that accepts APIs…Which is kind of the same thing.