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For RIAs, Scalability Now Means Survival

With rising operational costs and clients demanding greater personalization, RIAs must tap an innovative technology solution to grow – or they risk being left behind.

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“Scalability” once seemed to mainly be a Silicon Valley buzzword, in the age when “there’s an app for that” was still a plucky adage, and gaining market share at huge losses was somehow a proxy for success. Today, the word has primarily lost that veneer. Rather than suggesting a quick path to viral dominance, scalability is more likely to evoke the odds for survival for many types of businesses – from the newest digital entrants to the most analog and traditional enterprises.

RIAs and financial advisors are no exception. Whether they work in single-person practices or small family offices, in medium-sized businesses or the most prominent financial corporations, RIAs are always trying to find the right balance between giving their existing clients greater individual attention and acquiring new clients to grow their AUM – or balancing customization and scale, to put it more succinctly. But growth is essential to survive, and imperative to thrive, of course, and meaningful growth has always required scaling strategically to reach more clients without straining available resources, time, and energy.

Fortunately, advancing technologies are making it much easier for RIAs to scale their efforts cost-effectively.

Struggling with inefficient, antiquated processes

Even RIAs at large businesses with sophisticated clients often struggle with common impediments to growing their business. “Advisors often deal with manual processes, sometimes even within Microsoft Excel, when making investment decisions and entering trade information,” says Lisa Jacobs, Vice President of Customer Management for intelliflo, the leading cloud-based platform for financial advisors and their clients (supporting more than 30,000 advisors globally with over $1 trillion AUM). “In lacking streamlined processes, many RIAs are forced to use disparate systems to reconcile trades with multiple custodians, going through each custodian to review trade accuracy, which is a headache. This can make scaling a business almost impossible.”


Now add the growing demand for customization…

According to a survey conducted in 2022, 55% of firms’ relationship managers say that clients are demanding more personalized services and engagement.1 Certainly, consumers in many segments of the economy now routinely expect a greater level of customization than they did a decade ago, and RIAs encountering this expectation – with more clients requesting individualized portfolio management, advice tailored to their specific goals, values, risk preferences, etc. – know they must meet these needs, or they risk losing those clients. Conversely, this offers forward-thinking businesses the opportunity to attract new clients from competitors that are slow to respond to these evolving expectations.

With clients demanding more attention and personal engagement – especially amid a challenging financial environment with growing uncertainty, European conflict, rising interest rates, and historic inflation – RIAs must increase their ability to give their clients (especially the smaller ones, as well as retail investors) personalized service that feels “high touch” and satisfies each client’s key individual wants – quickly and with minimal additional effort – if they want to grow their business and improve profitability.

…and more clients with diverse needs

It’s also important to consider that RIAs are seeing increasingly diverse clients who want more flexibility in their investment choices, greater emphasis on achieving specific objectives, and other features that weren’t as important to clients in previous years. These can include access to alternative investments, socially responsible investing, or simply a higher level of transparency and participation in how their portfolios are being managed. Advisors need to adapt to these new needs, as well – while being just as impactful in providing the traditional bread-and-butter services of timely rebalancing, reducing tax burdens, diversifying based on changing economic climates, and so forth.

The only cost-effective answer for RIAs is using the right technology solutions to add this scale – both by automating services and freeing time and energy to increase personal client engagement.


intelliflo redblack enables personalization at scale

intelliflo redblack, a comprehensive portfolio management, rebalancing, trading, and order management solution, increases a business’s efficiency and scalability by automating critical processes, integrating with existing platforms, and using cutting-edge technology to improve workflows and transparency. Importantly, along with performing portfolio monitoring and order management, intelliflo redblack ensures pre-trade and post-trade compliance all within a single solution. And as a user-configured modular solution, it’s designed to be flexible. Hence, it scales as a business grows – making the prospect of scaling up from, say, handling 1,000 accounts per day to 20,000 a seamless, efficient transition with minimal impacts on operating costs.

“intelliflo redblack can eliminate manual processes and significantly streamline core workflows to reduce costs and errors – while freeing advisors to devote more time to higher-value activities and engaging with their clients, providing more customized and value-added services without increasing operating costs,” says Jacobs. “Beyond freeing RIAs from low-value work, intelliflo redblack also empowers faster investment decision-making to transform the management of complex portfolios at scale. It’s a platform proven to drive growth.”

For just one time-saving example, Jacobs adds, businesses that automate and digitalize their high-volume processes with intelliflo redblack can perform complex rebalances in minutes or hours rather than weeks or months – with real-time compliance and restriction validation to ensure portfolios are always invested according to clients’ needs and policies.

Same scalability, more flexibility: intelliflo redblack

A software-as-a-service (SaaS) version of intelliflo’s award-winning intelliflo redblack solution is the most powerful (and popular) choice for RIAs of all sizes looking to tap into advanced automation and efficiency, but with the additional benefits, savings, and flexibility offered by a cloud-based model.

“intelliflo redblack cloud delivers the same advanced, personalized rebalancing and robust order management at scale in a multi-custodian environment, along with all of the other advanced capabilities and features of intelliflo redblack – but eliminates the need for businesses to have their IT infrastructure, while adding new efficiencies, improving business continuity, and significantly increasing agility and access,” says Jacobs. “Given these advantages, about 75% of new clients are selecting the cloud edition of intelliflo redblack.” She also adds that intelliflo redblack users can expect to see it support new tasks and processes on an ongoing basis, as it received over 50 enhancements in 2022 alone.

Seamless growth in a competitive landscape

Achieving cost-effective, low-friction scalability that enables long-term growth in a dynamic business landscape requires RIAs to invest in an advanced technology solution that, at minimum, can bring trading, rebalancing, reporting, and other vital actions that typically occur across various platforms – encompassing multiple forms of assets across different types of accounts – all together in one cohesive place while enabling greater transparency, real-time info processing for quick decision making, and a strong degree of customization of client-facing services.

But these abilities aren’t stellar; they’re quickly becoming the baseline for even small RIA and financial advisory businesses to remain viable choices for clients with evolving standards. To gain a true competitive advantage, businesses will soon need to exceed these capabilities to offer superior personalization and human-to-human engagement to their clients while improving cost and operational efficiency to fuel sustained growth without endangering that new level of client service.

“We see this over and over – the businesses that make these investments in technology to scale their businesses effectively have a much different AUM growth curve than those that put off these vital actions,” says Jacobs. “The RIAs that make these commitments can future-proof their businesses, but those that don’t act will, sooner or later, provide opportunities for other businesses to meet their clients’ needs.”

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1 Top Trends in Wealth Management 2023, Capgemini.

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