Tech Talk with Mike McCann, Founder and President, Perspective Financial Services: hosted by Schwab Advisor Services
McCann was invited to participate in Schwab Advisor Services’ “Tech Talk.” The collection of videos was created to help Schwab’s advisor clients improve their efficiency and services. It features independent advisors like McCann, who have led the way in leveraging technology in their practices and are willing to share their insights. He was interviewed by Lauren Wilkinson, vice president of Digital Advisor Experience at Schwab.
Following is an abbreviated transcript of the video “Tech Talk with Mike McCann.”
LAUREN WILKINSON: Hi, I’m Lauren Wilkinson, Vice President of Digital Advisor Experience at Schwab. I’m pleased to be joined today by Mike McCann, with Perspective Financial Services. Mike, welcome. Can you start by just sharing, where did you get started when you were choosing to expand your technology focus?
MIKE McCANN: Sure. The first thing is we look at our overall business model and what it is that we provide for our clients. We are very relationship-based. The relationship with our clients is always critical, and it always will be.
We looked at two parts. The first was to look at technology that would allow us to automate some of the regular everyday activities – things like rebalancing trades, for example – that would then allow us more time to spend with our clients. That’s the efficiency piece.
After that was implemented, we looked at, how do we expand the relationship with our clients, such that they’re able to interact with more people in the firm? Our technology is largely based around the CRM as the hub with financial planning software. That allows us to get the entire relationship of our client and be able to see that at a quick glance, which is much more critical than simply focusing on the portfolios for our clients.
LAUREN: Well, that’s great to hear. And I know for many people we’ve all become a lot more comfortable using technology to stay connected and work remotely due to COVID. So can you share how your firm’s adoption of technology has helped you during this most recent environment?
MIKE: Sure. It really allowed us to be well prepared for this, not having any idea something like this could come down, of course.
COVID came with a massive market correction, a big crash, as everybody knows. And that required a lot of personal time with our clients, addressing what was happening, answering questions, talking through concerns. It’s certainly not the first time we’ve gone through a big correction, but it was perhaps the most dramatic one in our firm’s history.
By having all of our routine activities – such as trading, rebalancing, downloads and things of that nature – taken care of through automation and technology, we didn’t have to worry about how to transition that as we were moving from the office to our homes. That automation continued to give us the time we needed to speak with our clients.
Then came your routine activities. You know, at first all we thought maybe this is a two-week shutdown or something. But no, of course not. So we needed to be able to do things like move money. People needed wires. They needed money journaled between accounts. That gave us an opportunity to explore more with our non-digital clients, to get them to start using Schwab Alliance to approve things like journals so that we didn’t have to wait for mail time or try to produce mail coming from multiple different homes.
During the quarantine, we were able to implement the video call, to have the screen-sharing and face-to-face contact with clients that wouldn’t ordinarily try this. And we found some really good success. It brought down walls, if you will, that might normally be associated with just a phone call. Instead, here you are, perhaps, in your kitchen talking to a client. It just creates a more personal conversation.
LAUREN: Well, thanks for sharing that. And for other firms who are looking to expand their technology presence, what advice would you have for them?
MIKE: Start with something that’s quick, low-cost and easy to implement. You don’t need to start with the big thing. Start with the small things. And something like I mentioned earlier with moving money, get them into the Schwab Alliance and get them approving a transaction. Take it a step further, whether it’s a new client or an existing client needing a new account, instead of doing the mail, open the account digitally. They may be uncomfortable with it at first, but just ask them to make an exception this time if they can. They might be surprised as to how easy it is.
Go with the assumption that the client wants to do something digitally. Clients now realize they can’t come into your office. They probably don’t want to come into your office. They realize that the mail is a little bit slower than it used to be. So let them know this is a plus. You’re able to serve them on a digital basis and make things go a little bit quicker and easier.
Yes, it’s different. It’s perhaps a little bit uncomfortable at first, but the expression I’ve heard in the past is “dig your well before you’re thirsty.” Think of this as a time to invest for the future. We will get through COVID, of course, but at some point something else in your firm, or personally, or perhaps in the community will come up that will cause another disruption down the road. By putting these things into place, you’ll be ready for it.
LAUREN: Thank you for sharing this, Mike. It’s been great to connect with you again, and I really appreciate all the best practices you’ve been able to share.
MIKE: It’s been my pleasure. Thanks for having me.