Let’s talk about your desk for a minute. Yes, that’s right. Your desk. That indispensable piece of furniture that provides a home to your computer, cup of coffee, print outs, pens, tchotchkes, and what have you.
If you’ve been in business as long as me, your style of desk has probably changed over the years. A couple of decades ago, an oak desk in a small office was pretty commonplace. Then along came the open concept, and modular cubicles became the norm. As working from home grew in popularity, a “desk” became anywhere you could find a seat and an Internet connection, even if that meant a comfy couch or a café table on a patio.
Just as the concept of a desk has evolved over the years, so has the reality of an advisor desktop. What began as a basic database with static customer information became multiple applications on the computer, each with unique and important information. To gain a clear picture of the customer for sales and service, advisors had to toggle between multiple, fragmented applications and collate information in spreadsheets. The integrated desktop ushered in a new era of efficiency and understanding by creating a single application that presents all the data from all the sources and systems advisors use. Now, says Celent, the advisor desktop has changed again, providing a device-agnostic “hub for all advisor-related activity, overseeing the transmission of information from customer touchpoint into the workflow and back.” (William Trout, The Next Generation Desktop: Reigniting Advice Delivery, Celent, June 8, 2017.) Celent calls this the ‘Next Generation Desktop’.
At NexJ, we call it the Integrated Advisor Desktop but, whatever the name, an advisor desktop plays an integral role in wealth management. It helps firms attract and retain top talent, dramatically improve advisor productivity (learn how we helped one firm gain 2 hours per advisor per week), and increase assets under management through efficient, personalized service.
Celent notes that large firms, in particular, are juggling multiple competitive, operational, and technical challenges that make the selection of an integrated desktop solution simultaneously important and difficult. Wealth management firms are looking to improve client acquisition and retention rates, enable better process management, and manage regulatory / reputational risk. “They must coordinate the activities of operationally and geographically distinct businesses and are particularly exposed to the effects of fee compression, given their fixed cost base. From a technology perspective, their challenge is to adapt internal systems developed iteratively and through acquisition to the new marketplace of digital tools” (Ibid.)
These firms need technological flexibility and support for a best-of-breed approach more than ever. A solution with rigid vendor partnerships or limited integration, like single-purpose horizontal CRM, isn’t going to solve the problem. Our Integrated Desktop Portal, for example, enables NexJ to be the integrated desktop or to seamlessly embed data, CRM functionality, and process automation portlets into an existing framework like ThomsonONE, as we did at Wells Fargo Advisors. We provide exhaustive integration capabilities specifically to empower firms to select their preferred applications for sales and service (portfolio management, financial planning, etc.) and serve them all up in a unified desktop (computer, tablet, or phone) so advisors are always working with the best technology.
Would you have predicted twenty years ago that today’s desk could be a tablet and an easy chair? Likewise, can any of us predict what the future will look like for integrated advisor desktops? The best solution: look for a flexible platform, rich integration capabilities, and support for a best-of-breed approach to reap the benefits of an advisor desktop now and continue to evolve the desktop well into the future.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the future of the desktop (and desks for that matter!) Please comment below or email me with your views.