Conquest Planning’s best practices for tech and change management

Chief Product Officer at digital advice platform outlines what he sees are the best approaches firms can take to change management

Conquest Planning’s best practices for tech and change management

Managing change can sometimes leave firms and advisors with whiplash. The pace of technological innovation and new product rollouts in the advisor space means firms are inundated with new tools, tips, technologies, and trial subscriptions. We have already seen that tech adoption can make or break the success of advisory practices, but firms have to balance a need to stay cutting edge with their teams’ capacity to change.

As firm leaders and advisors consider how to manage change, Ken Lotocki is looking at things from a vendor’s perspective. Lotocki is the Chief Product Officer and co-founder at Conquest Planning Inc. a significant provider of financial advisory software. He explained that, from his perspective, the most successful managers of change and technology have the right mindset.

“The most successful implementation we’ve had has come from firms that set themselves up for a hybrid approach where they want to blend best in class technology with human expertise,” Lotocki says. “These firms have placed technology at the forefront. They’re prepared to work on an open API, they have a CRM and have an ecosystem journey in their mind where they are working out how to make it as easy as possible for their advisors to get client data into the system.”

Lotocki believes that firms with a mindset of preparedness from a technology standpoint, those who are actively seeking the best ways to implement technology in their existing practices, are the most successful collaborators. Those are the firms able to adopt technology more seamlessly and who end up subjecting their advisors to the least changes in actual process.

The organization of a firm can go a long way to facilitating that success. Lotocki says that firms with a Chief Technology Officer, or some kind of dedicated technology team beyond just the standard operations department, are often the easiest to work with and the most successful change managers. A dedicated technology group within a firm can own the new tech partnerships and implementation, organizing it in a way that fits the firm’s existing processes and culture.

Lotocki believes that this culture of tech adoption is so important for firms now because we are on the cusp of another tech revolution in the industry. Artificial intelligence remains the elephant in the room, too. Lotocki says that Conquest is currently implementing generative AI and large language models into their software. He insists, however, that they aren’t going to let AI drive their proverbial boat.

“We’re not,” he says, “we’re conquest planning and we’re going to build the best financial planning software. If artificial intelligence can help us with a more effective plan build, we’re going to use it.”

Lotocki sees more trends than just AI at work, however. He sees firms facing a need for greater efficiencies to improve margins at a time when they’ve come under pressure. To meet that need he notes that there is new tech emerging on the fulfillment side related to both portfolio and estate management. He sees a growing trend towards connectivity, too, as tech platforms are used interactively with one-another to build a firm’s tech ecosystem.

Lotocki also sees a growing push to use technology to engage clients. Notably, that push is coming less in the form of mobile apps and platforms, and more in data visualization and means of demonstrating performance. He says that the days of sending a ream of spreadsheets to clients is over, and that tech will be key to showing them the value they’re getting from advisors.

As these new technologies get implemented and changes get introduced, Lotocki believes that firms need to operate with an iterative, hybrid approach that integrates new tech into their existing processes and existing tools. They also need to ensure that their culture is driving the adoption of change for the right reasons.

“There needs to be a culture of willingness to embrace new technologies,” Lotocki says. “There also needs to be an understanding of how advisors want to work with clients and how clients perception of their advisor is changing…The biggest thing is that advisors need more time in their days. I think most advisors would rather be able to work one on one with their clients, almost become financial coaches if they could. So time spent in technology should be significantly reduced.”

With reporting from Leo Almazora