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Building the Business 101: Technology Rules

Technology helped us build an office, but challenges remain.

Veena A. Kutler and Annette F. Simon, 05/04/2006

This monthly series of articles will describe the steps and occasional missteps we took in building our financial advisory business, Mosaic Wealth Management. This is the third in the series. The first discusses how we became partners, and the third described our transition from home office to business suite.

Mosaic is a fee-only comprehensive financial planning and investment management firm located in Bethesda, Md., a suburb of Washington, D.C. At this writing, we have about $50 million under advisement, 40 plus clients, two employees, an 1,100-squar-foot office suite in a Grade A building, and the two of us--Annette and Veena--the principals and equal owners of the firm.

In this article, we discuss the use of technology in our practice. We freely admit to being technology slaves. And our guess is that many of our fellow advisors are in the same boat. Technology is a dry, boring topic but a vital one--so bear with us as we give you the excruciating details of how we use it. We will also describe the steps that we took along the way, as well as some of the enhancements and upgrades we are contemplating for the future.

Our Current Technology

In our earlier articles, we described our reliance on technology within our practice. We have been completely paperless for several years and, therefore, are completely reliant on our computers--which can be both good and bad. Our filing cabinet is very small; we save hard copies only of signed client agreements and a few other documents. Everything, including the client agreements, is saved in scanned PDF format on our server. As a result, we are able to work in the office or remotely, and all of our staff have access to all client and business data. Here are the components that make this system possible for us.

Network Server

All of our data and software resides on a Windows-based network server located in our office. Our computer consultant created a Virtual Private Network that allows us to sign on to the server when we are in the office, in our home offices, or when traveling. Because all data is in one place, any team member can access and make changes to the data. Another plus is that software updates and installation of new software needs to be done only once. Using a network server requires purchase of a network license to share software, but it's a small expense relative to the overall boost in efficiency.

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