For some, legacy systems have worked just fine, but will that always be the case?
Given rapid advances in financial technology, as well as COVID-19’s impact on how firms operate, can wealth and asset managers afford to hold on to their old portfolio management and accounting software?
According to a survey of the largest global asset management firms, conducted by consulting firm Alpha FMC, 80% of firm respondents have made their digital transformation a priority.
But for those firms seeking digital improvements, 69% of them cited legacy technology as a primary obstacle; company culture and mindset (62%) and lack of resources and relevant skillsets (46%) are also digital transformation roadblocks.
The changes brought about by digital transformation are not insignificant. 40% of financial advisors say mobile apps will transform the wealth management industry, according to a survey from Financial Planning.
Every organization is different. Some firms have developed their own longstanding in-house tools to handle their portfolio management and reporting. They might have their own functioning in-house quality control systems, too.
Their client base could be smaller in number and/or more advanced in age, thus an older clientele may be less demanding on the tech front.
Thus, a digital transformation may be considered unnecessary.
Or maybe they haven’t realized it’s time to change?
You’ve successfully generated clients reports and managed transactional data well on it for all these years, and in light of the new technology out there, your current systems have worked well this whole time, without incident and without complaints from clients.
If the legacy system is convenient to use, well, who can argue that? And if it means it’s easy to train new users, and if it means no painstaking efforts to learn a new system, then there may be little reason to change.
If the legacy system fits the budget, again, who can argue that? How much will it cost switching to a new setup? How easy will it be to use? Can you guarantee the same quality of reporting and ability to service clients on a new system?
You might think (or have thought) everything is fine, but advancements in financial technology have come a long way.
If manual processes, slow reporting, data integration issues, remote connectivity issues, and no mobile- or web-based applications available for your clients are what defines your organizational practices, you may fall behind the competition.
What you should consider instead:
Whether it’s gathering data from various systems to compile into a single spreadsheet, or spending time manually reconciling cash and position breaks, that is time wasted.
So much time can be freed up by passing on various investment-, operations-, and compliance-related tasks to a third-party provider, and likely it can be performed at a lower cost than done in-house. Instead of spending more time with clients or focusing on business development, you are consumed by manual and mundane work.
Doing manual, time-consuming, and repetitive tasks is, well, inconvenient. Whether it’s rebalancing portfolios to match the model or running the reconciliation reports, you don’t have to spend so much time on this work. And it’s not just inconvenient for you, but for your clients. The clients, especially younger ones, are increasingly accustomed to accessing accounts on their phones or tablets whenever they want. If they can’t access their investment details right away, on their devices. your competitors will make sure they can.
The system you’re using might be expensive, and for what you’re paying and how little you get, it’s time to switch. Pay attention to when your current contracts expire so you know not to renew and be locked in with a less-than-great system for another year.
Even if costs aren’t an issue on the current system, and assuming you’re going the “old school” way, how much does it cost not to change?
The time wasted not automating tasks or leveraging technology could easily add tens of thousands of dollars each year in unnecessary expenses. Why tens of thousands?
Imagine an employee at $25/hour doing work that could be automated. Let’s assume it’s 2 hours per day of automation-worthy activity. Multiply the daily cost times 5 days a week, then times that result by the number of weeks in a year worked. At 40 weeks alone, you’re already at $10,000.
These are relatively conservative estimates. If your labor costs are higher and the man hours of work to be automated is much higher, the savings will be even greater. Employees should be focusing on higher value, client-facing, revenue-generating activity, and upgrades in technology make it possible.
Legacy systems are beneficial in that they’ve worked for so long, so why quit now? And if it’s easy to use and cost-friendly, It may make sense to stay put.
But at the same time, legacy systems are less advanced, and they promote inefficient and costly business practices. What’s more, the lack of convenience for clients due to the lack of a digital platform may be an opportunity for your competitors to poach business away from you. The workplace and workflow disruptions caused by COVID-19 further magnify the weaknesses in legacy technology.
Those who want to switch but aren’t sure how to do it could always consult with an investment operations outsourcing provider or move to turnkey asset management (TAMP) service providers.
Whatever you do, always think about what’s good for the bottom line and your clients, as well as how to stave off the competition.