When you imagine your business in the next 10 years, what does it look like? Are you working with an entirely virtual team? Do you have a formal office space? Are your client meetings all done over conferencing tools to support your busy schedule? As you work to put together a forward-thinking business plan, it’s important to think about how your operation and tech stack will change over time.
Shifting your mindset to embrace future technology means:
- Thinking about how to best support your client.
- Determining the type of life and business you want.
- Evaluating the future needs of your team.
Serving Your Client
Embracing technology to better serve your clients can take several different forms when you’re going through business planning. It might mean upgrading your tech stack as different tools become available and technology evolves. It might also mean rethinking your current processes and systems to provide an elevated client experience.
For example, clients may expect an online portal with interactive financial planning software in the not-so-distant future. They may also expect automated text and email appointment reminders, online scheduling tools and even digital forms and checklists to help them stay on track throughout the year. Adjusting your business plan (and budget) accordingly to incorporate these pieces of technology is key.
Something else to consider is whether your current ideal client will be aged out. If you largely work with retirees right now, how will you pivot your services to accommodate new clients from different generations as they approach retirement in the near future? The next generation of retirees is tech-savvy, which means you need to be as well.
One way you can continue to provide quality planning services while still meeting technology expectations is by revisiting your processes to ensure they’re both collaborative and individualized. The more resources you can give your clients access to, the better.
Ultimately, your business is just that―yours. You need to be thinking of ways that technology can help you achieve the life and business you want. For example, manually managing your calendar may be fine right now, but do you want to be manually scheduling appointments in 10 years?
Take the time to think about how your life is going to change in the next decade, and how your business needs to adjust to accommodate those changes. Some examples might be:
- You’re planning to retire.
- You want to start a family.
- You’d like to work virtually and travel.
Technology can help you streamline your processes to save you time and energy as your business scales. Jot down what you want your ideal day to look like in 10 years as a financial planner or firm owner. How does it differ from what you’re doing right now? For example, if you currently hold all of your client meetings in person, it may be wise to start looking into conferencing and scheduling tools to start managing your meetings virtually if you want to be able to work remote in the future.
Remember: these changes happen over time by taking small steps toward your goal. Implementing a few virtual meetings now may not overhaul your schedule, but it will put you on the right path to achieving your ideal workday in the next decade.
Serving Your Team
You and your clients aren’t the only ones impacted by technology and future planning. Your team will be impacted by these changes as well. One of the biggest changes I see many planners thinking about as we head into a new decade is shifting away from formal office space. Transitioning your team to a virtual work environment can be quite the challenge―especially if it’s new to everyone.
Start thinking about what technology you’d need for virtual work, and carefully evaluate what roles your team will play if they work remote. For example, you may find that members of your team are able to work remotely and use conferencing tools to meet with clients and present plans. Maybe you will decide that once your receptionist retires in 3 to 5 years you won’t need to replace them―and will instead leverage automated appointment reminders and scheduling software. Making future hiring decisions with technology in mind can also help you to plan ahead.
Thinking about technology planning for the next 5 to 10 years can feel overwhelming. Instead of focusing on small changes, think about the big picture. Once you define what you want to build in the future, you’ll be able to reverse engineer your technology and operations goals to maximize success.
Charesse Hagan helps financial planners work smarter, grow their firms and offer exceptional services to their clients. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and is an operations consultant at Charesse J. Hagan, LLC, and an FPA Coaches Corner coach for technology and operations. Find more resources from Hagan here.
Editor’s note: This piece originally appeared in the FPA Coaches Corner whitepaper, “Action 2020: Create Business Success for Today and Tomorrow.” Download your copy of the whitepaper here.