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Your Back Office Gets Social

Social networking technology can jump-start communication in your practice.

Bill Winterberg, 10/14/2010

Running a successful financial advisory business means keeping abreast of a multitude of business metrics and performance statistics. In addition to monitoring overall business management, advisors must also keep tabs on many of the day-to-day activities crucial to the service of the firm's clients.

In the typical advisory office setting, advisors schedule periodic status update meetings with client relationship managers and back office staff where everyone discusses current work loads, updates project statuses, and identifies items requiring urgent attention. While generally useful, staff meetings can often deviate into lengthy, tangential discussions between a few staff members, keeping the rest of the group waiting patiently for the conclusion of the meeting.

An alternative to the traditional status update meeting receives its inspiration from the new ways people are collaborating through social networking services. Team members are adopting services that offer features similar to Twitter's Public Timeline and Facebook's News Feed.

With the August release of Advisor Desktop Version 5.0, Orion Advisor Services, LLC, of Omaha  unveiled a new social collaboration tool specifically targeted to financial advisory firms with a feature called Orion's Wall.

A News Feed for Your Practice
Advisor Desktop is a Web-based portfolio management and performance reporting application used by more than 200 advisory firms managing more than 350,000 accounts. The comprehensive Advisor Desktop application is accessed through a hosted Citrix client, and Orion offers a scaled-down, read-only Web portal accessible with any standard Internet browser. The Web portal is where advisors access Orion's Wall.

Orion's Wall allows advisors and back-office staff to post updates to the wall just like Facebook users do on the News Feed. Comments can be added underneath any post, permitting staff to provide additional details about an update or raise concerns about the progress of a project.

Rather than calling an all-hands staff meeting to discuss pending portfolio-management tasks assigned to employees, advisors can instead log on to Orion's Wall to post questions and view updates from the team regarding activity in client accounts. Orion's Wall allows advisors to review updates when it is convenient for them without pulling employees away from their work to attend yet another staff meeting.

Business Metrics Automatically Delivered
While it's important to stay informed regarding day-to-day account administration, advisors know how essential it is to review the big picture of business performance through a variety of business metrics. In a 2010 report from Pershing Advisor Solutions titled, "Mission Possible II: The Link Between Operational Efficiency and Human Capital," metrics such as client acquisition growth rates, revenue per professional, and client retention are recommended in order to conduct a comprehensive performance measurement.
Since Advisor Desktop is a comprehensive portfolio-management application, Orion's Wall can be configured to automatically post information on business metrics on a daily basis. These automatic updates are fully customizable and can include the firm's total assets under management, new accounts created in the last day, or the name of investment models that have recently been rebalanced.
Below each automatic update is a quick link to view detailed information about the item. For example, below the daily AUM update is a link to view the AUM snapshot report in Advisor Desktop, where the breakdown of assets under management can be seen in more detail. Instead of asking staff to generate periodic reports or present the information in a staff meeting, Orion's Wall makes this information easily accessible on a daily basis.

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