#ItzOnWealthTech Ep. 45: RIA Technology Hoarding and COVID-19 with Kristen Schmidt

“I think the most common question recently is, can you look at my tech stack and is it good enough? One, can I sustain, two, can I grow? And three, where am I at economically? There’s some cost to all of this technology and it’s fair to say in this economy, can I skimp on something? Can I downgrade in order to save some money but still have efficiency.”

–Kristen Schmidt, Founder, RIA Oasis

After managing operations for a billion dollar RIA for almost 10 years, Kristen Schmidt knows the best technology and operations processes needed to scale an advisory firm. Kristen founded RIA Oasis in 2017, and works with investment advisory firms, financial planning firms, industry leading tech companies, custodians, and consultants from around the US. 

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This episode of Wealth Management Today is brought to you by Ezra Group Consulting. If your firm is evaluating new technology or looking to improve your current wealth platform, you need to contact Ezra Group. Don’t spend another day using technology that doesn’t offer an elegant user experience. Your advisors and clients deserve better and you can deliver it to them with the help of Ezra Group.

Companies & People Mentioned

Topics Covered in this Episode

  • Remote Video Conferencing
  • BCP Failures – Now is the Time to Test
  • Communicating with Clients via Mass Email
  • CRM Spring Cleaning
  • Deploying Client Portals
  • Documenting Processes
  • Technology Dieting, Hoarding, and Haircuts

Related Articles

Complete Episode Transcript:

Craig: And my guest, this episode is Kristen Schmidt. Kristen is the founder and principal at RIA Oasis and they are a consulting firm that helps RIAs with as the word Oasis is an acronym for, operational and strategic implementation services. Kristen is one of the smartest people I know in the industry when it comes to tech and operations for advisory firms. I work with her on a number of projects and she’s brilliant. So I thought, who better to bring in to talk about what’s going on during these times of crisis and how are all the RIAs she works with (and there’s a lot of them) dealing with it, what are some of the questions they are asking her, what are some of the answers she’s giving them. We covered things like video conferencing, issues with that, how to optimize it, how are clients reacting. Of course the questions they are asking and some recommendations she has to help get through the crisis. I’m sure you’re going to enjoy it, so let’s get started.

Craig: And here we are with my guest Kristen Schmidt founder, and I’m going to call her the technology executioner, of the firm RIA Oasis. Hey Kristen.

Kristen: Hi there.

Craig: Welcome to the show. The remote show. Well my shows are always remote, but..

Kristen: Well now everybody is, everybody can understand it. Absolutely.

Craig: We were just talking before we started, I did a webinar on running a virtual business and we’ve always run virtual businesses.

Kristen: We have, we have, I think there’s an interesting curve going on with a lot of advisors and financial planners shifting to this model because they have to. And I smile with you because we’ve done this for awhile and transition can be tough sometimes.

Craig: It sure can. So we had a whole bunch of questions I want to talk about cause you’re on the firing line here with advisors and RIAs, so I thought it would be a great podcast to talk and I’ve had you on before, we’ve talked about the news and there’s so much more going on now and you’re really sort of at the cutting edge of what RIAs are doing and how they’re seeing the world and what changes are going on. So that’s why I want to have you back, to talk about some of these things.

Kristen: I appreciate that.

Craig: And so I had to stop us while we were talking before we started recording because we were wasting all of our good conversation.

Video Conferencingfinancial advisor technology

Kristen: Talking about Zoom. Yes, this used to be our little secret. Right now all of a sudden everybody-

Craig: No one was supposed to know how good Zoom is. I tried everything. I tried UberConference, the free version, then join.me, and Webex, and GoToMeeting, and I didn’t like any of them. And I came to Zoom because it was the most stable, but now it’s kind of less stable because everyone’s using it. What are you seeing with advisors using Zoom?

Kristen: Yeah, I am seeing that. I did the same. I was a join.me user for a very long time, never really a big fan of the GoToMeetings, just in the sense of it being a little bit more complicated and nothing about virtual talking should be complicated. I also liked the idea that Zoom is easy for the other user, right? So when you have somebody who’s not as tech savvy, I’ve Zoomed with my mother, my kids were just Zooming actually with their classmates yesterday morning. It’s pretty easy to allow people to just see the share button, share their screen. So I think they’ve made it pretty simple. But yeah, I am seeing a lot of people starting to adopt it. But with that said, we’re all learning new tips and tricks. If you’ve ever been in the advanced settings section of something like this, there’s so many options. You tend to not read through all of them, but then as you talk to more people you realize, Oh, I like that option. Or Oh, I didn’t know that was available. So it’s been a learning experience for me as well.

Craig: Oh sure. I mean I’ve actually gone through all those and double check them a while back, but I went again just this morning and one thing I was reading that people were complaining about Zoom was that most people don’t use the password feature. They just put out their user, their meeting ID and it’s the same meeting ID for all their meetings, which is very convenient for all your clients. But if someone just guesses your meeting ID, what hackers, they’re not really hackers, what mischief makers and people who want to be annoying are doing is just guessing random IDs and seeing if there’s a meeting going on on that ID, and they start doing crappy stuff and disrupting the meeting. So one of the ways to do that is to set up a password, but then every one of your meetings, all of your participants have to type the password, which as you know, any extra step you give people causes problems. So what are some things they can do? I’m going to tee up the softball question for you. What are some of the things they can do to avoid people keep disrupting their meetings?

Kristen: The password feature is the best way to truly secure your Zoom rooms. The feature that I use and that I’ve found is most convenient is the waiting room feature. And that means that if people click on the link that my doorbell rings in Zoom and I get to admit them in. And that’s the feature that I liked the best.

Craig: And the waiting room feature is in advanced features.

Kristen: Right. That is correct. So there’s just a little slider button where you can turn that on and basically you’ll just hear a doorbell ring, you’ll see the person’s name and the phone number or their connection via video. And then you can allow them to come into the meeting and they just get a nice message on their screen stating that they’re in the waiting room and they’ll join soon.

Craig: Right. And that’s one of the biggest problems I’ve heard from people. So that, that one little slider can solve that problem.

Kristen: It makes a difference. Absolutely. And we’ve all been on video, right, where we’re not ready. There’s a minute where we’re not ready or we’re setting something up or making sure our sweatpants aren’t showing only our tops. So the waiting room was helpful in a lot of measures. Absolutely.

Craig: And what were you saying, who was noticing the huge increase in purchase sweaters and-

Kristen: Walmart, Walmart posted that they are seeing double the sales in dress shirts and tops, for adults. And it is double to triple the amount of pants and shorts because obviously everyone’s Zooming these days.

Craig: And you don’t need anything below the waist.

Kristen: This is it. It’s almost like being a news anchor, right?

Craig: I’ve noticed some features that say, “make me look better”. Like the video conferencing tools are like doing stuff on your face.

Kristen: That’s true. So, a lot of people are getting creative. The website Canvas has released Zoom backgrounds and you can create your own Zoom background. So if you don’t want to see the live background, that’s an option. A ton of people are having fun with that. In the advanced settings of the video feature within the Zoom account profile features, you can actually depending upon your camera, soften the camera, use natural light versus regular lights. So yeah, those you can definitely have fun. And we’re all home, so a lot of us have time.

Craig: I want to Zoom from outside, my backyard.

Kristen: I know, right? I know, I know. And actually it’s funny, I just closed my office door, but we’re also seeing an influx of animals joining meetings, just to put smiles on people’s faces. So my 70 pound dog is outside of the door just for pure distraction.

Craig: You can bring the dog in!

Kristen: It’s okay, he has joined many meetings. I’m currently calling him my office assistant. So, but it does, everyone’s trying to make this work.

Business Continuity Plans

financial advisor technology

Craig: Exactly. And speak me making it work. What are you seeing with advisors who now having to do all these remote video conferencing meetings? What are problems they’re running into?

Kristen: Sure, I think I’m seeing a couple of trends and it’s probably opposite buckets. Number one, a lot of advisors have been prepared for this and so they’re getting to reap the rewards of being prepared by having tools like this, having IT infrastructure support by an IT vendor to help them transition. The remote from home sounds great. I have a laptop I could work from home, but when you really look at the security measures that you need, the access points that you need, in order to keep your business safe while you’re working virtually, it’s tough. So firms that have had that infrastructure are doing okay and they’re thriving. I will say a lot of firms had the infrastructure and I’m hearing from a lot of my clients or previous clients where it was set up, but they never tested it. I remember at the SEC, we’re audited often, but we’re also expected to audit ourselves. Okay, and so as we audit, it’s great if you have a business continuation plan. If you have a BCP, that’s exactly what you should have by rule.

Kristen: But if you haven’t ever tested that BCP, you’re actually failing in the SEC’s eyes, they do not slap you on the wrist for having a failure within your BCP. You get the slap if you haven’t fixed the holes or hurdles you identified during your testing, right? And so if you can identify the holes, I remember at my old firm, we used to do different pieces of BCP testing every quarter. So one end of quarter, the week before end of quarter, that’s when we ran it, just as a fresh reminder. One of those was a big one. We never told anybody. You also remember when we were, back in school, the fire drill would go off and you wouldn’t know. You want people to react without knowing about it. And that’s what happened here. We suddenly, everybody started to get locked down and you know, different states and in different places. So we used to actually just randomly, two of us knew, the chief compliance officer and myself and in operations, and I would just go and unplug our server. Literally just unplug it and see what happened. And that wasn’t just testing my employees to make sure they could deploy what was needed. But that was also testing my IT company, making sure they had set up my backup correctly and testing my vendors to make sure that we could access in different ways. So we’re in it now. This is the true business continuation plan. So I’m seeing a lot of firms that are executing it or finding holes and needing to do better.

Craig: We’re in a true BCP. True BCP test.

Kristen: Yeah. You know, how many BCPs are sitting and were a little dusty when everybody needed to grab them, or how many BCPs were not truly documented, but I know what I would do if something like this happened. This is definitely unprecedented. But as much as we’re all grieving the loss of what’s going on right now with being able to have interactions with people and that’s our core business. We have nothing to sell in this industry. We’re not on Amazon delivering you a present and financial investments.

Craig: We don’t have a physical product to sell.

Kristen: You have no physical product whatsoever. The value we bring is the relationship we build. You can still do that in this way, but it does take technology planning and security in order to do it. And I think that’s a definite shift for firms.

Email Campaignsfinancial advisor technology

Craig: So aside from Zoom, besides video conferencing, what are some of the other questions that your RIA clients are asking?

Kristen: I’m getting a lot of questions in regards to, How do I send a mass email to all my clients in order to continuously communicate? We’re very used to having clients come in the office, visit them, go out to lunch, we’re having seminars or running campaigns. We’re having client meetings that are maybe appreciation events. All of those are gone right now. So the main communication that we’re seeing, which always is email, but we’re also recognizing people are paying attention to email cause it’s all we’ve got. I’ve never looked at my Gmail account so much.

Craig: It’s all we’ve got.

Kristen: For a couple reasons. Number one, that is the only way that all the vendors are communicating with us. Even if I’m ordering things online, right? My grocery order that I placed that I need to pick up, all in my email. I have two teenage boys. All of the communication between the schools and the curriculum, which is now online, is in my email. So we’re getting a lot of attention through email, and so that’s the number one communication. We’re also recognizing we’re not going to pick up the phone and call 500 clients. These clients are going through the transition in their own lives just like we are. We might not be the first ones they want to talk to. So email is that necessity. it’s true though, I’ve talked to a lot of advisors who said the communication has been tough. The pandemic is one thing. The volatile market is another. And so we are the reality check when clients need to talk to us. We’re the real deal. We’re telling them what’s happening and we’re also telling them that they’re going to be okay. But it’s a reality that a lot of people struggle to have that conversation right away. And we’re used to having that conversation in person.

Craig: Exactly. Yeah. When you say communications has been tough, so sending email campaigns is something that advisors are asking about. What are you recommending for them?

CRM Spring Cleaningfinancial advisor technology

Kristen: Well, the core issue I’m seeing with advisors and firms is that their CRMs do not have the data that’s needed in order to generate the mass email that they’d like to send. So as much as we’re all creating the communication and speaking some great messages, if you don’t have email addresses that are accurate for every client in your database, and if you don’t have them marked as primary, right? We all know we have a bunch of email addresses. I run a business. I have two kids, I have eight email addresses that feed into my Outlook every day. And so if your clients have multiple email addresses and you’re tracking them, how do you know which one is the main one that you should be sending these communications to? And most CRM systems require you to choose a primary in order for you to use the mass email malfunction. So there are a lot of little innuendos here that the systems need to have as best practice in order to get you to that end feature of sending the email. And now this is a great cleanup measure as well though, I just talking to a client yesterday who said, We sent the mass email, we got 69 deliverables. We made 60 phone calls. It’s the first time they’ve really been sending it. And so this is a great spring cleaning, if you will, to make a phone call and say, We realize this email address isn’t working. Do you have a different preference or is there a new email address? And that’s happening a lot more too. We all used to have the same email address on, you know, Yahoo or whatever it was.

Craig: AOL.

Kristen: I mean it’s, it’s a legacy, right? but now we’re starting to see a lot of clients that are their email address due to security if they’ve been hacked, or have had any identity theft or we’ve all had those accounts where we used it for Christmas shopping and now it’s full of junk, so we start a new account just to get rid of the junk. We’re seeing a lot of clients that have changed email addresses, created new ones because the pandemic, so there’s a lot of spring cleaning going on in CRMs as well.

Craig: That’s, so it’s kind of a small bonus, benefit that’s come from this crisis is cleaning up your CRMs.

Kristen: Yes. And then, the other trend I’m seeing actually is that firms are recognizing that their CRM might not be fully utilizing all the features or they might be using an older CRM and they need to step in today’s century with new CRMs. So, I’m actually having an influx of CRM prospect firms come in because they’re finally realizing they need to move. There’s a lot of great legacy systems out there, but it doesn’t necessarily support the business or the infrastructure of what you need in today’s technology world and in our industry. And remember the CRM is connecting to other very valuable tools that are necessities, the portfolio management system, the trading and rebalancing tool. And the key, which I’ve been on your podcast before, I’ve talked about this, I’ve been talking about it for five years now. Suddenly everybody’s interested, is if you don’t have a client portal, this is how this is hurting you. It’s tough. If you had a client portal for your clients, they have a place where you can share documents, where you can share information, where they can get an update and have peace of mind in regards to their accounts and their financial plan and their wealth going forward. If you don’t have that, you’re right, you’re getting a lot of phone calls, you’re getting a lot of emails and you’re telling them it’s going to be okay.

Craig: I bet the percentage of people using the client portal has skyrocketed.

Deploying Client Portalsfinancial advisor technology

Kristen: Yes. In fact, I was just sending some emails to some of the major vendors to see if they have some of those numbers at the end of the month, end of March, just to see if they’ve had an influx of login. Because I would really be interested in knowing that. I would also be interested to know the influx of clients that have signed up. Right? Clients need to actually sign up for the fertile and they actually need to accept the invite, so are you seeing an influx of registrations for the portal as well? I think that’s the hardest part about this is if you didn’t deploy a client portal prior to this pandemic going on, deploying a client portal virtually is extremely difficult. The best way to deploy a client portal ideally is to be sitting in an office with your client and showing them the ropes, giving them a tour, have them bring in their laptop, have them bring in their iPad and show them on their device using a guest wifi that does not interfere with your wifi for security, and having them log in and show them around. This is what the portal looks like. This is where we’re going to drop documents for you if we need to share something, this is where we could share this portal with your children or with your beneficiaries, with your CPA, that’s the ideal. So if you try to do it now, they’re already a little taken back by Zoom and now they’re logging into something that is probably a little foreign.

Craig: It’s going to be a problem, but they’re gonna have to get over it. They’re gonna have to figure out what to do because it’s a whole new world now.

Kristen: That’s correct. And that’s how you can actually replicate it. So what I suggest is, and let’s remember, we’re always telling clients not to click on links for cybersecurity, but then we’re sending clients links. It’s a problem. So what I suggest is schedule the virtual virtual meeting with the client and ask them to also have their email open and ready at the time of your meeting. Then deploy their client portal invite while you’re on the video conference with them. And have them share their screen and say, Look, in your email, I just sent that to you, go ahead and click, and walk them through. They can share their screen, make them be the person doing the actions, don’t do it for them so that they can listen and learn, and then have them have the experience via something like Zoom.

Craig: Yeah, that sounds like good advice. And have you seen advisors having success with that?

Kristen: I have, but to be honest, it’s just starting now and it’s interesting. You and I have done projects together in the past and we always talk about the firm or the advisor financial planner experience, and then we talk about that client experience, that client experience that we never want to forget about. I think at the initial time where shelter in places started to get deployed and people really had no choice but to work virtually, advisors were very worried about themselves and their staff, which is very fair. You need to make sure home is taken care of first. Make sure that you’re stable and running your business. But I think advisors and planners were a little slow to try to make sure their clients’ experience was okay, not the client mindset or how are you feeling about what’s going on, but what is your experience? They’re a little slow to to get to that, so I see a lot of advisors just this past week or so, I’m really pushing for that. There’s never a good time for this, but the timing also we’re at an end of quarter. Most advisory firms do not have in their business continuation plan that one of their staff members should have a full post office in their living room to postmark and to stamp quarterly performance reports. That’s not a thing.

Craig: Is that what they’re doing?

Kristen: Well, they’re having to push their quarterly performance reports and billing virtually if you haven’t done so already. So this is making firms run end of quarter processes very differently and it’s not allowing clients to have a choice. Clients have no choice but to do a phone call meeting or a Zoom meeting. They have no choice but to get their QPRs electronically.

Craig: Yeah. There’s nothing else to do. And are you seeing a lot of pushback? Are you seeing a lot of problems? Are you seeing a lot of people saying, well how do we do this?

Kristen: No, in fact, I think this is the push that our industry needed because we were behind the curve in a sense of the client portal and virtual meetings. A lot of advisors were doing it with some clients, but it certainly wasn’t the saturation that we’re seeing now. So I think this is pushing the necessity of it. I also think that there’s a lot of clients that had to grieve the loss of the relationship being in the office. So now we’re starting to see a curve where they’re becoming a lot more interested. I’ve seen a huge curve in advisors bringing the outside family into meetings, it’s a great point too. Everybody’s home. Why not meet with your clients, adults, children or beneficiaries or have the CPA get on the plan? You can do it by Zoom and we’re all at home. Nobody’s really that busy unless you’re working from home and you can’t find a lunch hour. We’re not going anywhere anymore. I used to be chasing kids around with sports and running the client meetings and such and we’re not doing that anymore.

Craig: Yeah, what happened to sports?

Kristen: Oh goodness. I mean if I don’t have a Packer game this fall, I mean it’s going to be heavy depression.

Documenting Processes

Craig: Well, we can talk about that later. That’s a different podcast. What about documenting processes? We’ve talked about spring cleaning the CRM, we talked about deploying client portals, one thing I know you’re big on is documenting processes. Is now a good time to do that?

Kristen: I think it really is. Even just looking at the end of a quarter, how you’re managing your end of quarter, the items that you’re doing, the order in which you do them needs to do those things. Is it one person that does the whole process? Is it three different people that you might have dependencies on? Meaning, I need to wait until she’s done with this before he can start his process. It’s imperative. It’s not only building processes, it’s building repeatable processes. I’d like to trigger this over and over again for clients. I would like to have this triggered every quarter. I need this to happen for compliance reasons every year. We’re seeing a lot more compliance come up now because everybody’s making sure they are compliant in the way that they’re operating in a different way. And we’re also seeing a lot of extensions and different rules kind of coming from the pandemic. So workflows are absolutely necessary and your workflows, if you have any in your CRM as an advisor or planner now, they literally changed the minute we got shelter in place. So those workflows are now no longer happening because when you used to walk over and talk to somebody in the office and tell them to do something, sending emails isn’t good enough anymore. So we’re seeing a lot of instant messaging, use Slack use. We’re also catching up. Slack used to be used to just say I’m going to go use the restroom or I’m going to lunch right now. We’re seeing Slack used is the account number one, two, three, four. That has to be archived. That is an archivable event. So we’re starting to see tech that you might not be using it in a compliant way now that you’re no longer sitting next to somebody. I’m also suggesting that a lot of firms really look at their archival base. Social media is what, 300 times higher usage right now because what else is there to do? Your staff, everybody needs to be archived if your company is mentioned within their profile. A lot of firms think because they’re archiving email that they’re good to go and you’re not. Social media, texting if you’re not archiving your text, that’s a problem. And then also instant messages need to as well.

Craig: That’s a whole other issue. People don’t realize that everything, every touch to the client has to be archived. They’re thinking, That’s okay, it’s just a text.

Kristen: Right. It’s just a text. And it was a simple text, but that’s the one that they’ll be looking for, for sure. And archival also means it’s archived with only certain admin rights and it can never be deleted. Archive doesn’t mean, well I have it on my computer, that’s not to SEC standards. You can delete anything on your computer. But within a true archival system, like Smarsh or Global Relay, MyRepChat does the texting, although Smarsh and Global also do that. That’s the actual, rule-based functionality that’s needed.

Craig: So are there any other questions that your RIA clients are asking you now?

Kristen: I think the most common question recently is can you look at my tech stack and is it good enough? Can I sustain the business looking at this tech stack? I think a lot of firms tend to focus on projects based on technology, I’m going to build workflows, I’m going to get a new trading room bouncing tool. But something like this kind of makes us look holistically at the entire tech stack and say, is everything talking correctly? Am I growing out of a software? Am I using a Maserati and not a Volvo when I really need a Volvo? And so looking at the whole tech stack and saying, one, can I sustain, two, can I grow? And three, where am I at economically, I mean there’s some costing to all of this technology and it’s fair to say in this temperature of the economy of what’s going on, can I skimp on something? Can I downgrade a little bit in order to save some money but still have efficiencies.

Craig: So you’re seeing firms looking to cost cut?

Kristen: Let’s be real. Firms are always cost cutting when it comes to technology and operations, right? We’ll put as much money as we want into sales and marketing, but operations, in a sense of humans, how many people we will hire to run operations. And then when it comes to technology, it always seems too expensive. But yes, currently right now I am seeing seeing that, I don’t find that as a bad thing. Most firms hoard technology. They buy the tech, they don’t implement it. How many times have we heard firms say, I use a risk profiling software but we don’t really use it. All I have is the login for it, but we’ve never really used it. Oh, well you’re paying $300 a month for it. That’s interesting. So, here’s a lot of technology dieting that needs to happen.

Technology Dieting, Hoarding, and Haircuts (oh my!)

Craig: Technology dieting.

Kristen: Yeah. Something like this kind of makes you look in the fridge and say, what do I need to get rid of? What’s old? you know, even if it sits there and I look at it for months and months, am I really going to eat it am I really going to use it? And so I’m, I’m having a lot of calls with firms just talking through that entire tech stack with them being honest about whether or not it’s valuable. Which also brings the other side of the equation, right? You should be using it. Why aren’t you? There’s a little bit of skimming that we can do for sure. Giving some haircuts to tech stacks isn’t a bad thing.

Craig: These are all great, euphemisms. You have technology hoarders.

Kristen: Yes. It needs to be a show on TLC.

Craig: So they need a technology cleanup. Then we have technology overeaters who need technology diets. We have long hair technology, hippies who need a technology haircut.

Kristen: True. Or the hippies that really need to come into today’s century with technology. I think this is definitely opening the robe. This is making firms have to look at themselves to say, can I run the business this way? But then also, even if you can, does it feel okay?

Craig: What’s the oldest tech, you’ve seen an advisor, an RIA using?

Kristen: Oh, that’s a tough one. In general, I have a lot of firms that still have servers smoking in their offices, which isn’t a bad thing if you have an IT firm helping you with that, and you’re running a virtual desktop and the server just happens to be there. But usually that’s not the case. The software itself is living on the server. The server lives in the office, therefore they’re struggling. I’m seeing currently it’s not the oldest at all, but we’re seeing a lot of PortfolioCenter users needing to move. We’re seeing a lot of desktop versions of CRMs that have been dying. It’s hard for me because I’m also a legacy user. The first CRM I used was Gorilla on a Bill Good system, and it’s still out there and we’re seeing it. The biggest hiccup we’re saying with legacy software, is it doesn’t integrate with anything anymore. You know, two pieces. It doesn’t integrate and it’s not getting updated anymore. So, it just doesn’t talk to today’s world and what we’re doing. And let me be clear on that. It’s not that it doesn’t talk to other softwares, that’s obvious. It doesn’t integrate. It doesn’t offer the support of the services we’re giving to clients today. So 10, 15, 20 years ago, we weren’t talking about the wealth of your life. We weren’t talking about how does money make you feel? We weren’t talking about how many makes you feel at all. We were just talking about what your money is doing in the market today. How is it matching up against the S&P? It’s not the conversation anymore. And so, you need software that supports the services that you’re offering in the industry and legacy systems like that are not offering financial planning support. Supporting your processes or your necessity for connecting with clients in that way. So that’s also the big difference is that firms that are using legacy software, either they’re not offering those services and they’re struggling, or they’re offering the services and they’re managing all of that in Excel.

Craig: Ah, Excel. Old Reliable.

Kristen: Yeah. Correct. I don’t know if you got calls or not, but I’ve got a lot of calls of how can I send mass emails through Outlook? And my first question is why? Why would you do that?

Craig: Because 30% of advisors use Outlook as their CRM.

Kristen: Outlook or their phone. Yes. Sync them both and it seems genius, right? Not really.

Craig: And now did you see Excel, Microsoft announced the deal with Plaid.

Kristen: Yes.

Craig: Now advisors will never get off Excel.

Kristen: That is correct. And Plaid also bought Quovo.

Craig: They bought Quovo last year, right.

Kristen: Right. So yeah, there’s a lot of full circles going on. And now just to confuse them, I was actually talking about this yesterday, Microsoft renamed itself for the 90th time. So that confuses people.

Craig: It’s not Office 365, it’s Microsoft 365.

Kristen: Again, people just need to know what that means. You know, put lipstick on a pig. Still a pig, but that’s great. So that just confuses people. So it’ll take awhile.

Craig: It will take awhile. All right, so, is now a good time to deploy new technology?

Kristen: If you have a tech strategist to help you.

Craig: Someone like you?

Kristen: Right. This is actually happening in kind of an interesting time. This is happening right at spring to summer in a sense of seasons. And I always say summer is my busiest season as a tech strategist and consultant because traditionally, summertime, your clients are not as busy. They’re not meeting with you as often. They’re spending time with their families. They’re up north at cottages, college students are home and it’s family time during the summer. I live in the Midwest. So when there’s nothing to do in January and you’re in a foot of snow, you’ll go see your advisor. So this is traditionally the season, if you will, to manage technology and deploy new new tech, but the temperature of what’s going on, we’re seeing some advisors not ready to take that plunge. Ironically, client service professionals, anybody helping with client needs, they have the time right now. A lot of clients are not opening new accounts right now. This isn’t the time, nor are they meeting with you in order to do that, we’re not seeing a lot of new clients come in the door. So client service professionals who are managing your client onboarding or your client service for current clients, they have time. Most of them have 30-40% more time right now in the past two weeks than they ever have. So that’s a great time if those people have the skill set and capacity to help with a transition like that, now is the time. Now is also the time to be talking to these vendors, the vendors are not as busy, so this is the time to get true attention from vendors that you might be looking at.

Craig: But now’s the time to call Kristen Schmidt at RIA Oasis.

Kristen: Or Craig Iskowitz, yes, this is the time where we, we definitely can deploy and help and explain.

Craig: It’s RIAOasis.com.

Kristen: That’s correct.

Craig: Kristen, thanks so much for being the program. It was super helpful. I think people are going to get a lot out of this.

Kristen: I greatly appreciate it. Thanks so much.

Craig: You’re welcome. Take care. Bye.

Craig: Hey, it’s Craig again and I hope you got a lot out of that episode. I know I did. My favorite parts were the SEC/BCP failures that you need to test every part of your business continuity plan, and now is a great time to test it since it’s really in operation now. The spring cleaning of your CRM is some great device and the technology hoarders, the technology dieting and the technology haircuts. Great visuals so you remember these things when you’re talking to clients and when you’re looking at your own technology. What you should be doing and why you need some help from someone like Kristen. So that wraps things up. Please remember to subscribe like us every way you find us. Give us some comments, share it and everything else and we will talk to you all next time.



The Wealth Tech Today blog is published by Craig Iskowitz, founder and CEO of Ezra Group, a boutique consulting firm that caters to banks, broker-dealers, RIA’s, asset managers and the leading vendors in the surrounding #fintech space. He can be reached at craig@ezragroupllc.com