Choosing an investment platform can be exciting. You are selecting the technology and resources that will drive your business forward, define the investment experience for your clients, and hopefully, make your life easier. But as you put on the miles and that new-platform smell fades away, things can change. That sporty platform might not provide the trunk space for your growing client base. Chic styling may take a backseat to enhanced safety features.
Does your business look the same as the day you chose your current investment platform? If not, it could be time to trade in that old investment platform for something newer – one that fits your business’s needs today.
The 7-Point Platform Check
Use this quick, 7-point platform check to help uncover common indicators that it’s time for a swap.
Look Under the Hood (Technology)
Your first point of consideration should be the technology, or engine, that drives the platform. Does the available technology match your daily needs? A mismatch in tech capability and real-world needs can cause unnecessary headache – for you and your clients. Overweights in tech focus will often detract for other areas of the platform, like affordability or practicality. Underweights will result in a consistent inability to accomplish the tasks necessary to manage your business. Think about your daily “drive”. How much horsepower do you need to complete that drive? Start there. A V8 sounds nice, but it might be overkill – delivering a high price tag and poor fuel economy.
Consider Fuel Economy (Efficiency)
As technology advances, we expect it to become more efficient. Platform efficiency can be measured in the ability to reduce administrative workload – manual tasks, like fee-billing and account opening. How often are you having to “pull off the highway” to complete necessary, but non-value-add tasks? If your day is frequently disrupted with manual workload, it could be time to consider a platform that’s designed for higher efficiency.
Check the Carfax (Practicality)
Efficient technology is only as good as your ability to use it. Audit your platform and gather the history of breakdowns. Do you find yourself struggling to accomplish basic tasks? Frequent problems could indicate you’ve got a lemon. These might include dysfunctional navigation (trouble finding what you need), lack of transparency, or blind spots in your book, and over-complication of routine processes.
Evaluate Platform Versatility (Investment Options)
As an advisor, you are tasked with serving a wide range of clients with unique investment needs and preferences. Your investment platform should provide the versatility needed to accommodate each one, comfortably. If you're struggling to get a subset of clients where they need to go, it could be an indication that your platform lacks the versatility needed to serve that audience. Delivering investment options that aren’t aligned with your philosophy or a client’s needs could provide an uncomfortable ride, or worse, keep you from reaching your destination altogether.
Review the Service Package (Product Support)
No matter how fine-tuned your platform, there are going to be times when you run into challenges. Does your current platform have a good service package? While platform issues aren’t ideal, they can be easily managed with fast and attentive service. The real issues arise when issues aren’t resolved immediately. That’s when a minor leak turns into a major breakdown. While many platforms offer similar back office technologies, the human element can vary greatly. When an issue does arise, do you want to be left digging through a user manual, or would you prefer to rely on a full-service team?
Assess the Safety Rating (Due Diligence)
Advisors are all too aware of the possibility of a crash in investing, and the benefits of being prepared for them. However, the road of investing is also filled with potholes – like bad investment managers – that can disrupt the smooth investment ride you want to provide to each client. Consider the due diligence processes your platform deploys to evaluate third-party investment managers. How selective are they when sourcing options for you to entrust your clients’ money? If you’re uncomfortable with the selection criteria, it may be time to consider a safer option – especially as you accumulate passengers.
Calculate Cost of Ownership (Fee Structure)
Cost of ownership might be your last consideration, but it’s an important one. Evaluate your current platform’s fees (platform fee, trading fee, ETF fee, etc.) against other options in the market. Keep in mind the features provided by your platform in relation to cost. You may be paying a premium for features that aren’t relevant to your business. On the flip side, you may be cutting costs at the expense of resources that could help you drive growth.
Did your platform pass inspection? We would love to show you how FTJ FundChoice helps advisors grow their business through one, simplified investment platform. Click here to learn more about our Turnkey Asset Management Program (TAMP).
0150 - FTJFC - 4/2/2019