How to Choose the Right Technology for Your Practice

December 3, 2012
Salt Lake City, UT

NetDocuments services some of the world's leading law firms, financial institutions and corporations across the globe. We also have a lot of great channel partners, technology partners, consultants, and friends who add value to the technology space. We're going to take a break for this post and turn the stage over to an expert in the financial services industry. Sheryl Rowling CPA/PFS, is also part of the Virtual Solutions for Advisors (VSFA) group, where financial advisors can go for advice and resources on how to make their financial services practice more efficient and profitable.

...take it away Sheryl!

By Sheryl Rowling, CPA/PFS

CEO, Total Rebalance Expert®

Advisors often find that the more successful they become, their professional lives tend to move toward a decline in enjoyment as well as the risk of client dissatisfaction and reduction of profitability. The reason is simple: Workflows and procedures that were adequate during the early years become stretched as the number of clients increase. Without embracing technology, the advisor faces longer working hours, less time for clients, and more difficulty maintaining quality control.

Before business expansion turns into a crisis, the advisor must implement consistent policies and procedures – and embrace technology. If you are an advisor facing this crossroad, how do you choose the right technology for your practice? I recommend a 3-step process:

  1. 1. Evaluate areas of need in terms of risk and labor.
  2. 2. Determine your willingness to adopt and adapt to technology.
  3. 3. Examine available solutions.

Before focusing on any particular solution, you will need to evaluate your processes. Based on your current methodologies, which processes will expose you to increased risk as your practice grows? (For example, will trade errors become more likely as the number of clients multiply?) The other consideration in this evaluation is labor hours. Which processes are most labor intensive for you and your staff? By carefully looking at each area, you can determine the most important ones to address first.

Discovering your greatest areas of need is a meaningless exercise if you're not willing to take on technology. This means you must have the resources and the desire. Bringing technology into your practice requires money and time – and, unless you can view them as an investment rather than a cost, you are not ready for technology. Desire goes one step further: You must be willing to adjust the way you normally do things! As an advisor myself, I know how hard it is to consider changing from what you have implemented to something new. With automation comes the requirement for consistency and discipline. As one TRX (Total Rebalance Expert) advisor put it, "What I like most and least about TRX is it makes me think about how I do things."

After doing your internal homework, you will have identified and prioritized which areas are the most in need of technology as well as those you are most willing to implement. When examining available solutions, I suggest the following questions (adapted from "Are You Ready for Rebalancing Software?" cited below):

  1. 1. How will the software help impress prospective clients and add new value for existing ones?
  2. 2. Does the software offer flexible integration options for the present and the future?
  3. 3. Does the software match my style?
  4. 4. How long will it take to complete the implementation and training process?
  5. 5. Is the software cloud-based or installed locally?
  6. 6. What are the software's support options?
  7. 7. What are the hidden costs?

Sheryl L. Rowling is Chief Executive Officer of Total Rebalance Expert, a rebalancing software solution designed to bring portfolio management to a new level with features such as Analysis Expert and Tax Loss Harvesting, both at the touch of a button. TRX enables advisors to significantly grow their practices through the efficient delivery of high-quality services.

A Certified Public Accountant, Personal Financial Specialist and Principal at Rowling & Associates, Sheryl has been providing investment, tax and financial planning advice since 1979.

Sheryl holds an MBA in Finance and a BS Accounting from San Diego State University. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (tax and financial planning divisions), the California Society of Certified Public Accountants, the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, the All-Star Financial Group and the Association of CPA Financial Planners. Sheryl is also the author of the CCH publication Tax and Wealth Strategies for Family Businesses.

Sheryl L. Rowling has been named one of Worth magazine's Top American Financial Advisors, one of Accounting Today's Top 100 Most Influential in Accounting and one of Wealth Manager magazine's Top 50 Women in Wealth Management. See for more info.