My job, as well as the business intelligence I use every day, are about collecting and sharing meaningful information with the leaders managing Wealthspire Advisors and the advisors who serve our clients. With the advent of big data, more meaningful information is available than ever before.
In the past, we maintained massive spreadsheets to track multiple datapoints, manually updating row after row of numbers. We were lucky if we were able to share that data monthly, let alone weekly. Today the data we track is automated with crawlers pulling information from multiple sources to update dashboard reports we look at weekly, if not more often. We maintain a data warehouse at an omnibus level across the firm, as well as for individual advisors. We gather information on the number of clients we serve, household asset size, where they are located, and how we serve them.
Our most critical dashboard is our “Health Check”, which is reviewed by leadership on a weekly basis, and we use it to show how the firm is doing in terms of new and lost clients, asset flows, as well as progress toward other goals. This dashboard has helped us stay more focused on our biggest priorities by delivering a steady dose of data which tells us if we are on track or getting off course.
Why should advisors and their firms care about this data?
Data dashboards help individual advisors quantify how well they are serving clients, which Wealthspire Advisors regards as one of our most important performance metrics. The advisors we work with are proud of the work they do and are interested in knowing they are making a professional contribution. They also want to know how they are doing relative to their peers.
But don’t you already know all of this? After all, you work with your clients every day. The answer may surprise you. We have found that the truth of the data often belies anecdotal evidence. Without data-driven decision-making, it is easy to overlook patterns and discount anomalies that would become clear when represented visually in a chart or map.
Following are several datapoints today’s more sophisticated software can track and report in custom data dashboards:
- Are clients getting the right level of service? If you deliver service using a team, do you have the right number of people with the right skills serving your clients? Is your team actively reaching out to and communicating with those clients? Data can show you where your team is spending its time, and whether there is a need for process improvement or a new hire.
- Why do you win or lose clients? Clients join or leave firms for a number of reasons. Are your clients coming from a specific referral source, or, if you host a lot of events, do you know which types of events tend to eventually produce the most clients? As clients leave, are you tracking the reasons they’re giving so you can determine if your firm needs to make any changes to your service team, service levels, or investment mix? From a budgeting perspective, can you calculate the fees your firm is poised to collect this year vs. how much you will lose? When advisors leave your firm, are their clients also leaving?
- Are your clients aging out? Sophisticated data programs can track the percentage of your clients 75 or older. What percentage of your clients fall into this age range? Are you able to see whether your service teams are engaged with the next generation? If not, why not?
- What are my average fees per household? Per service type? Are we charging clients appropriately, given their asset level and complexity? Are advisors diversified – what percent of your clients are responsible for the top 50% of your fees? Do you know how much in AUM you’re managing but not billing on, and is this creating service issues?
- For individual advisors, how are they doing relative to the average advisor at your firm? Are they serving a rising or declining number of clients? Do they serve more or fewer clients than average? Lower or higher balance clients? What kind of revenue do they generate each quarter and over time?
- Where are your clients? We can easily plot the geographic location of our clients on an actual map, and parse that data by asset size or service type. If most of your clients are located in one region, does it make sense to open an office there? Alternatively, should you close a location when few clients are served by that office? Can you easily figure out if there is a trusted CPA or other professional within a 20-mile radius of where a client lives?
Both advisory firms and individual advisors can learn meaningful information by tracking and paying attention to these key metrics. And new data-tracking technologies delivered in data dashboards make this data more accessible than ever. Today we can interact and see patterns in our data in a way we never could using traditional spreadsheets. Dashboards have a huge role in helping us efficiently manage our business. But most importantly, they also help us secure and maintain long-term relationships with our clients, allowing us to better track and confirm we are delivering our service promise.