Technology Panel Discussion: Planning for Tomorrow’s Technology Today

Date: Aug 14 2020

Kent Lawson, Director, Technology Integration Services

Today’s technology moves at an exceedingly rapid pace. How do family offices stay ahead of the curve and plan for the future? Three experts offer insight as part of FOX’s recent Technology Showcase:

  • Diana Ermini, Director of Financial Services Vertical at Sage Intacct
  • Ryan Kerry, CEO at Knowledger
  • Mary Timmons, Chief Operating Officer, Global Family and Private Investment Offices Group at Northern Trust

When asked what technology trends and advancements will most affect how family offices do business in the future, the panel agrees that data access, aggregation and management is a priority, as is having robotics handle daily repetitive transactions like K1’s or capital call notices.

The group also notes that machine learning helps make decisions around unstructured data. Machine learning can read thousands of articles and books, and easily identify trends and insights around not just your accounting data, but also you investment decisions or even art purchases.

Interestingly another trend is around augmented reality. How can a family office engage the next generation, who is on their phones all day? The answer by using an augmented reality, such as a video game that shows investment reports.

Finally, the next big thing coming is explainable AI (artificial intelligence). The panel asserts – “If you’re not in the cloud, you gotta get there.” Cloud has ushered in a new era where computer processing power is virtually unlimited and is leading to breakthroughs that are enhancing capabilities in AI, which will drive business evolution.

The goal of AI today is human-level decision making, but much faster. As an example, AI can detect and flag anomalies and trends. While humans can do this with hundreds of data points, in the same or less time AI can identify trends and variances across billions of data points with far less false positives, and it can explain in human terms how it arrived at that conclusion. AI can spot changes, then list and rank the factors that are driving that change, so you can address it.

We asked our experts, what is the number one thing family offices should have on their technology roadmaps right now?

Everyone agrees, collaboration is key. Your technology and cybersecurity planning now must account for all staff and vendors who work remotely. Connection today is nearly all digital, and that may not change when the pandemic ends – people have gotten used to the mobility and ease of doing business remotely.

Secondly, leverage automation. If that feels daunting, pick one or two processes that are currently manual and figure out how to automate them.

Last, if you aren’t already, get in the cloud. Cloud technology provides security, peace of mind, and seamless communication.

Finally, the panel discussed starting points when looking for new software. The group highly recommends hiring a professional consultant to help you through the process and give you direction. Experts can point you in the right direction and narrow your scope and search to find answers faster and more efficiently.

Also, make sure you understand what’s most important to all constituents. When you go through the process, set priorities. Consider the size and scope of your family office, but also the different generations and needs of the family. A professional can help you find the best fit.

Lastly, explore what your peers are doing and look at objective sources, such as software review sites and industry analyst reports. Importantly, always let your goals and your strategic plan guide you where you need to go.

Kent Lawson is the Director of Technology Integration Services for FOX and leads endeavors focused on technology among other important deliverables to members of FOX. Kent has spent over 25 years serving the wealth management community in a variety of roles.

Areas of Expertise: Technology Integration

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