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Cloud Technology Blog for RIAs and Broker-Dealers

Cloud computing saves time, creates time for growing RIAs

9/14/15 10:30 AM / by Justin Kapahi


The leaders of growing RIA practices cited “the need to work on and in the business simultaneously” among the leading threats to their business. In a survey conducted by WealthManagement.com, this challenge came out ahead of market competition, managing clients, pressure on fees, and losing staff.

Running just to stand still is a familiar situation for entrepreneurs, but many RIAs have found a way to free up significant amounts of executive and staff time. Recognizing the amount of effort swallowed up by maintaining, administrating and even just using traditional IT infrastructure, they’ve left it behind and migrated to IT in the cloud. Crucially, they’ve made a comprehensive change that replaces their entire on-site IT infrastructure, leaving standard workstations (or other devices, such as tablets or phones) as the only hardware left to manage.

Measured across a series of tasks and responsibilities, RIAs who have made the change are finding that cloud-based IT can save significant amounts of time. It even releases extra time that would not otherwise be available.

How many hours could you gain?

Imagine a midsize RIA firm with a total of 15 staff. We’ll call them ABC Wealth Advisors. Like most businesses of its kind, ABC used to have an on-site IT infrastructure, with servers, networking equipment, backup systems, workstations, and a host of licenced software. The company has recently switched to a cloud-based IT infrastructure; see how much time it has gained each week.

1. No hardware to manage

Putting IT in the cloud means ABC has no server, no network hardware, no complex cabling, while even its workstations require considerably less management. All the hardware exists, of course, but it is outsourced to and managed by their cloud service provider. ABC’s users simply log on via the Internet to a personalized cloud desktop, which gives them access the same software and data, but without the hassle.

Hours per week saved: 3

2. Proper tech support

ABCs users were used to taking care of IT problems for themselves, calling on external tech experts only when absolutely necessary. A degree of self-sufficiency is great, but time spent fixing computers is time away from productive client work or business development. Since they switched to the cloud, ABC’s user can call on expert tech support 24/7 that is a standard part of their package.

Hours per week saved: 5

3. Work anywhere, anytime

ABC’s previous on-site IT infrastructures struggled to offer true mobility. Users could access emails and a couple of key software platforms via their phones, but it was nowhere near to approximating the integrated IT experience of the office. The cloud has changed that completely: Users now access all software and data from any device. They can be fully productive working from home, can avoid wasted travel time, and attend to any problems and prevent them becoming too serious.

Hours per week saved: 10 

4. Automatic system maintenance

ABC had good quality systems for data backup, anti-virus and firewall, but they still needed to be monitored and maintained. Another job was keeping licenced software up to date to ensure it is secure and stable. ABC’s cloud provider takes responsibility for all of these tasks, saving time but also giving the reassurance that everything is professionally maintained.

 Hours per week saved: 1

5. Straightforward business continuity and disaster recovery

Most RIAs have systems in place to back-up data, but many lack the ability to quickly resume productive work after a major data loss? In the case of a server loss – perhaps due to fire or flood damage – getting IT back online can take days. Cloud-based IT uses secure, remote and duplicated servers, so restoring service after a problem is almost instantaneous.

Hours per week saved: Probably none in any typical week, but in the case of a serious problem cloud IT means days or even a week of lost time could be avoided. For some firms, this could mean the difference between surviving or being brought down by a disaster.

 Like adding a part-time member of staff

For a RIA like ABC, cloud IT is helping them to gain at least 19 hours of productive work across the business every week. That’s like adding a part time member of staff and all the additional work they could deliver.

 Just as important are the reassurances that enterprise class security, data back-up and off-site servers give for meeting compliance obligations and ensuring the firm can continue trading even in the face of minor and major problem, whether that’s weather that’s prevents travel to a fire-damaged server.


External IT specializes in cloud IT for RIAs and other types of financial services clients. To find out more about our services and how they could benefit your firm, please request a demonstration below.


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Topics: Financial, Cloud Computing, Practice Management

Justin Kapahi

Written by Justin Kapahi

Justin Kapahi is VP, Solutions & Security for External IT. He has over 15 years of experience in technology & finance and is the former CTO of Fairholme Capital Management.