Thursday, August 12, 2010

Save an Hour a Day

It comes to no surprise that technology is a commodity. We buy and sell products, and, out of necessity, we upgrade needlessly, to conform to our competitive reality. In the end, business comprises of two categories; innovation and marketing. For everything else, it is a cost. Yet it is humbling to know, one man's revenue is another man's cost.

For this insight, I've always asked "why not make costs a key contributor to generating more revenues?" Taking this approach, at the end of the day, if we can align our time to activities (costs) that does much to move the needle for everyone's top-line (both for ourselves and for our clients), then the concepts of "economies of scale" comes to fruition. Though not entirely a "Build it, and it will come" scenario, it does give life to the idea of "Do it, and it will come".

As an integration software provider, I felt the AppCrown service was lacking the proper understanding of our clients, and have not succeeded in achieving these economies of scale I had envisioned. Our activities (costs) did nothing to enhance the understanding of our software nor did it lead the independent advisor to effectively leverage our product.

This month I had the pleasure of visiting one of our dually registered rep/advisors in Florida. The firm sold clients various financial products, including insurance and alternative investments. As an AppCrown client, we have achieved integration and functionality for their firm. However, to much disappointment, we have not been able to execute on training, and deliver proper support.

I say proper considering our training tends to be functional based. However, the user is using the technology to deal with their day-today activities. As such, the focus ought to be workflow based. Surprisingly, I saw the inherent demand to create a "monthly activities calendar" solution, through AppCrown, for his firm. Notably, through this resolution, the end user not only will get things done quickly but also have the desire to continue the use of technology beyond resolving immediate objectives. The advisor needed to move away from "management by objectives".

To summarize our findings from this visit, the firm and its people valued the desire to:

• Learn how to quickly and easily find client engagement data and holding data

• Track actual client direct activities vs. "left a voice mail"

• Streamline transaction processing to provide better overall client service tracking.

More importantly, after sitting down and mapping out business processes, everyone discovered important insights to the key activities (costs) of their advisory business;

 Information Gathering - This ranges from client activities, records of client interactions, tracking holding data, deciphering activities clients considered important, and tracking overall performance on client accounts.

 Internal Management - Owners have sought to allocate time to managing intensive paper processes, tasks to employees, and working through key firm specific processes that would drive client retention and client-account performance.

 Asset Growth - Apart from existing clients and internal management, the business of an advisor is to grow assets. This comes down to marketing, growing through referrals, and other events that relate to creating brand value and growing assets.

Either fortunately or unfortunately, our technology has the capability to streamline 99% of all outstanding processes and activities (costs) desired by our clients. Our fault lays in our complete understanding of technology. We built a technology firm around advisor, yet we did not go the extra mile to understand the specifics of individual firms under our AppCrown umbrella.

Perhaps the best insight by everyone was the ability to see how AppCrown was able to give back 1 hour a day, at least, to our client in Florida. For the first time, both AppCrown and the independent advisor understood how to leverage strengths on both sides of the equation; AppCrown with technology, Advisor with business.

W have made the first move. Either flying or through multiple web-based conferences, we have engaged a few clients to grow our understanding. This is now becoming a reality, where we are achieving economics of scale and the duality of activities (costs that benefit top-line for both AppCrown and our clients).

What's Next?

As our client, we need to understand the business side of your life. The proverb holds true, "Teach a man to fish and he is set for life". In this case, AppCrown is your high-end, CRM fishing rod. We will act on behalf of the user and fish for you. However, we need to understand you. We follow your lead.

As a next step, it would be best to reach out to us and our client service team. Look to schedule an immediate meeting with Claudio Pannunzio or Don Pollard, so we may begin to understand your world and have you understand ours.

This is the economies of scale advisors can establish, and we will be there to provide the pillars. However, we have made good progress, and now post approximately $10 billion AUM, through Salesforce for our 1000 users (70 firms). This is all within 12 months. So figure this, as we grow, we need you to grow.

What better way to do this than for us to tailor our approach with your business?

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