And the Definition of Obsolete Technology is…

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chipWhile attending a technology seminar, the speaker mentioned “obsolete technology” several times during the presentation. At its conclusion, I asked what the definition of “obsolete technology” is.

The answer?  “That’s a very good question.”

After thinking about it for several seconds, the presenter asked several people in the audience if they could define it. At the end of the discussion, we agreed that while we can’t specifically define it, we will know it when we see it.

I thought about that answer. If it’s difficult to define, then how will advisors know when their technology is obsolete? Here are some of the challenges of defining obsolete technology:

Age of your current technology - Technology changes so quickly that technically speaking, it can be obsolete shortly after implementation. But that doesn’t mean it no longer serves your business needs. Technology is expensive, and you don’t want to use your annual technology budget to replace the same software or hardware every few years. You want the budget to be used for additional technologies to enhance your services and provide incremental value to your clients.

Technology is blamed when something goes wrong - How often does technology get blamed for something that is not the technology’s fault? Data is entered incorrectly and all of a sudden the software doesn’t work anymore. Or, incorrect variables are included in the calculation (by the user) and the software no longer rebalances properly.

You still own technology that other firms have ditched, or others have technology you don’t have - I have said many times to advisors, the grass isn’t necessarily greener on the other side; it’s just a different shade of green. Technology that other firms use may not be what your firm needs.

Your definition may be heavily influenced by outsiders – You may be paying more attention to vendors and social media rather than your staff and clients.

Can we really see obsolescence? 

Sometimes we can:

  • Microsoft is no longer supporting XP
  • Your CRM’s capabilities do not go far beyond the electronic rolodex function
  • When at a client meeting, you pull out the client’s reporting package (paper) and the client pulls out the tablet
  • Quarter-end processing takes the same amount of time as it did since inception
  • Client’s request for paperless reports is a burden on your staff
  • Data is manually entered from one system to another

Sometimes we aren’t so sure:

  • You are still maintaining a server and applications are still supported on it
  • Your Excel application, while larger, seems to deliver your needs
  • While your current CRM appears fine, the newer technology does much more
  • Data export/import capabilities exist, but not fully integrated data transfers
  • Clients aren’t complaining about their reports
  • You have a hard time distinguishing if issues are related to technology or other operational inefficiencies such as staffing or work-flow processes

Sometimes we need to know where to look:

  • Your technology prevents you from providing new services to your clients
  • Your staff is not able to do their work or service clients remotely
  • Your firm can’t find documents or answer questions in a timely manner

Do you see it?

About the Author

Sue Glover, president of Susan Glover & Associates, LLC (SG&A), has more than 30 years of operations and technology experience in the financial services industry. Learn more about Susan here. 

Topics: financial technology, obsolete technology, Technology