Fear of Conversions is a Good Thing

Is this your firm? Unhappiness with the legacy software, interest in new technology, excitement during the evaluation, contract ready to sign….
 
                  And then time passes without a decision.
 
Fear has set in and you can’t let it go. It seems that someone you know has a bad conversion story and this prevents you from making the decision to convert your legacy system.
 
So why is fear a good thing?
 
You are aware of what can go wrong with the conversion. Your mind is filled with valid concerns.  
 
Don’t avoid the issues by believing that while the current technology is not the best solution for your firm, it is good enough - you know what the problems are with the current system and have work-around solutions for the problems. Keeping your obsolete technology or home grown (manual/Excel) solution is not the answer. If it were, you wouldn’t have started this process.
 
Listing your concerns and addressing each issue will help ease the fear. This will enable you to make a decision regarding the conversion. The following are some concerns that firms have with conversions and what you should do to alleviate the fear:
 
Cost– Advisors begin the process by proudly stating they are making an investment in their firm. Once they add the cost of the conversion to the new system, advisors quickly change their tune and this becomes an expense to the firm.

You should understand that conversions are not cheap and they are an investment. A successful conversion is a one-time cost. Analyze the cost (read: investment) over the many years you will benefit from the system and you will realize that the cost is not high.

 
Conversion “horror” stories – You are hesitant to go through with it because of your last conversion experience or another firm’s conversion story.
 
You should document what went wrong and how the process can be improved. Areas to investigate include staff availability to work on conversion tasks, decisions left to vendors without understanding how those decisions affected your firm, assumption that no issues existed with the data being converted, and vendor contract/deliverables not specific enough. Any of these situations would result in an unsatisfactory conversion.
 
You should not base your fear on another firm’s conversion story unless you have the facts and understand what went wrong.
 
Losing or changing data – This is a valid concern. You have information dating back to inception and wonder what will happen to that data. You fear that the information or data in the new system won’t be the same and worry that “surprises” with your client data await you after the conversion.
 
You should understand the conversion process from the vendor. To alleviate any surprises, understand the issues involved with converting historical client (CRM) and transaction/performance (portfolio reporting system) data and analyze available options. Review and understand the mapping process of the current data structure over to the new software, including the new methods of accessing data. Include sufficient time in your conversion plan to review your existing data for obsolescence and accuracy.
 
Cloud (or web) based technology – It may have taken you awhile to understand and be familiar with your server environment. This whole cloud thing doesn’t resonate with you.  You hear stories about hacking into cloud-based databases and are certain the technology is not “there yet”. 
 
You should educate yourself and your firm on web based and cloud technology – it is here to stay. Learn how the advantages of these solutions will provide greater benefits to your firm. An understanding will enable you to ask questions regarding security concerns over an outside firm handling of your client data and what happens to your data if the firm is no longer in business.
 
Let’s start at the beginning - again
You have a problem with the current system. It isn’t meeting your needs and the reports are inadequate to serve your client needs.  You discover newer technology that will serve your business needs. The technology looks even better during the evaluation. This time, before the contract reaches your hands…
 
                  You have a few more questions.
 
Sue Glover is President of Susan Glover & Associates, a consulting firm that ensures advisory firms have the information they need to make the best decisions for their clients and their own firm. With over 30 years of experience in the financial services industry, she assists advisors in evaluating, selecting implementing, and using technology. Visit her website at www.susangloverassociates.com. You can email her at sue@susangloverassociates.com.
 

You may also be interested in:
 
Aim for Successful Integration Not Just a Successful Implementation (Blog post by Susan Glover, President, Susan Glover & Associates, LLC)
 
Fast, Efficient Reconciliation - Improve Operational Efficiencies (Complimentary Whitepaper)
 
Streamlining Operational Efficiency (eBook)

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