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Susan Glover Insight & Advice

Advisors, Don’t Blame Your Technology Vendors

Published on Thursday, May 23, 2019

Advisors, Don’t Blame Your Technology Vendors

Here’s what to do instead of playing the blame game

Our article was published in Barron's on April 11, 2019


“The performance numbers are wrong, and the vendor won’t fix them!”
“We used to be able to do X, but we can’t with the new software.”
“If we had to do the project over again, we’d probably select a different vendor.”


Those are some of the criticisms I hear from advisors about their technology vendors. They are quick to assign blame when they think new technology doesn’t work as expected.

Playing the blame game is unproductive. Emotions can run high, and advisors may demand that problems be fixed now, even before they understand what caused them.

I understand how things can fall through the cracks when you’re evaluating new technology. After all, you may feel pressure as an existing license is about to expire, or you may make a quick decision on a new vendor because you’re so frustrated by your old software. You might have been overly reassured because everyone you asked about new software said it was great.

Turning back the clock isn’t an option, though. Let’s resolve the above criticisms in a productive manner and move forward with the technology adoption process:

“The performance numbers are wrong, and the vendor won’t fix them!”

I frequently tell advisors performance numbers are different, not wrong. Performance calculations are accurate based on the software’s methodologies, accounting treatment for transactions and underlying data. Better software today doesn’t mean returns were calculated incorrectly 20 years ago. More data are available today and are incorporated into the returns.

Performance differences can end up being a client-communications issue. As advisors educate themselves on calculation methodologies, they should effectively communicate those differences to clients and focus on how returns will be presented in the future.

“We used to be able to do X, but we can’t with the new software.”

Did you ask the vendor whether the technology provided the reports or features the previous software delivered, or did you assume it would? If vendors promised reports or features and didn’t deliver, you have a valid point. However, during evaluations many advisors focus only on incremental needs – those the current software doesn’t support – assuming the new software will contain all features currently used.

Review your current reports and features. Have you delivered those same reports to clients for the past 10 to 20 years? Can you present the same, or better, story to clients with the information available in the new software? Because someone used certain features years ago doesn’t mean they are still needed.

“If we had to do the project over again, we’d probably select a different vendor.”

I understand why advisors are disappointed after implementing software. But doing it over again? While I’ve seen advisors take this route, I don’t recommend it. There are trade-offs with all vendors, and no one solution will meet 100% of your needs. It’s difficult to see how useful your technology is when you focus solely on what it can’t do. Your attitude about the software will trickle down to your staff and they will join you in the blame game.

Focus on why you migrated to new software and develop a strategy to work toward the stated goals when you started the project. Your new goal is to move forward with the technology, not to start over.

It’s time to put the game away.

Contact us for assistance in implementing the right technology for your firm.

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