AI ILLUMINATIONS: It is Back-to-School Shopping Time for Wealth Management Professionals!


As we approach the end of summer, the official start of a new school year is upon us. Hoping each of you have had an opportunity to decompress before summer comes to a close and school starts. It is time to tackle the school supply list and get back to school (work.)

“For those in the Wealth industry, I challenge you to approach getting back into the swing of things as if you were going ‘back to school.’ Returning to school often involves shopping for new clothes, especially if you’ve lost or gained (as in my case) a few pounds over the summer,” says Michael Partnow, Group President, Wealth Management at, an autonomous enterprise platform for the Wealth Management industry. “The second thing to consider is your school supplies. While you may not be shopping for crayons, glue, a pencil case, or a lunchbox, having the right tools to complete the tasks and meet or hopefully exceed client expectations for the remaining months of the year is important.”

Looking at the Curriculum and Making Assessments

It is essential that you not only look at the goals defined, but also examine your technology to ensure that you have the right tools in place to execute on the goals. Technology reviews must also include questioning all classmates (team members), who use the firm’s technology daily for their input.

Here are some questions to ask during the assessment:

“Are you aware of all the platform capabilities including the latest enhancements?”

 “Are you leveraging the latest enhancements to do an inventory of clients’ needs?”

“Do you need additional requisites to complete the jobs or risk spill over into the following year?”

“Do you need to start retiring some of the older technology and potentially bring on new technology, or add new functions and features?”

Going back to school signals there are a few months remaining in the year to focus on executing your goals and setting your intentions for the next year. Often, the start of the school year is when investors get settled back into their routines and meet with their Wealth Advisors again.

For Wealth Advisors, it is also the appropriate time to focus on what the curriculum for the school year may entail:

Have any of the firm’s or investor’s expectations changed?

Have the goals you set at the beginning or throughout the year changed?

Are you aligned with your manager, your internal constituents?

“Preparing yourself as if you were going back to school is how I would approach September. The days of the composition notebook and pen are over now that we operate as a digital society and a digital industry. Doing a technology assessment and a deeper dive into your technology, your tech stack, and your people is critical to ensuring you are delivering the best client experience. As you review your technology, you must ask yourself those critical questions based on what you have today and what may have gotten you here. But your focus must be on what it will take to get you to the next level.  What got you here today will not get you where you want to be tomorrow.” adds Partnow.

Selecting the Right Supplies

Once you know what the experience you intend to deliver looks like, you must consider what would make it better. Creating greater efficiency by allowing people to move from menial tasks to thinking and using their imagination is vital to success. Making the processes and the experience much better is the first place to start as you step back and review your tech stack.

Partnow illustrates selecting the right supplies with a memory that many of us who are ‘seasoned’ can relate to:

“When Trapper Keepers came out, everybody thought they were great because they eliminated having to carry multiple, single folders. But they were so big that soon the teachers didn’t want them on the desk. And they didn’t fit in the lockers at my high school either because we had narrow lockers. They didn’t weigh up to the expectations that I had as a high school student,” he says.

You can relate not having the right tools to swivel chairing and having to return to your ‘locker’ repeatedly.  Not having the tools to get the job done wastes time and energy and often leads to frustration—for the home office, the advisor and client.

Ensuring everything is right at your fingertips and assessable makes you a much better ‘student.’ Thinking about how students move from class to class is like how your technology should speak to one another. Having the right technology fully integrated with no swivel chairing can make you a much better student, a more effective colleague, a critical business partner, and a more valued employer-employee.

Eliminating Unused Icons (and Technologies)

When Crayola came out with 120 crayon packs containing 120 distinct colors, everybody wanted them. But many kept using only the colors sold in the 24-crayon pack. We can equate Crayola’s 120-pack and 24-pack options to tech tools:

“Look at your desktop and assess how many icons are critical to your business functions. In the past six or nine months, review what tools/icons you’ve used, the cost of each, and whether you’ve upgraded to the latest version. Focus on what you use, and don’t be swayed by technology with features you won’t use,” Partnow says.

In the Wealth technology space, you must look at the overall offering of the technology. Consider where the technology is today and what you can do with it. Next, consider how the technology provider addresses new regulatory requirements or how they can help with the evolving needs of the investors.  The ability to scale is critical!

“Perhaps you used two pencils in the past, but now, the volume has increased and you need three or four. Assess all those things, including the technology and the provider, which will make your practice more efficient and quickly scalable. It is perfectly ok to use your erasers as mistakes will happen. Buy several erasers!  Back-to-school time is the perfect time to be bold and more courageous than you were in the past because you have a third of the year left to make corrections. Now is when you must get the right supplies in place, take out the glue stick, and combine your tech systems to get the job done,” adds Partnow.