There’s no question that technology has the ability to help us create solutions that improve how we operate and do business. But sometimes adapting and incorporating the latest tools and techniques can be a little overwhelming. Especially if you’ve already got a full plate running your own company—which I know is the case for many of the clients we serve here at Bayntree.
While I particularly love to geek out on tech solutions, I’ve spoken to a lot of business owners who just don’t have the time to keep up with the constant changes. Today, I thought it would be helpful to share some of the tools we’re currently using.
In this podcast interview, you’ll learn:
Andrew: Welcome, everybody, to another episode of Your Wealth & Beyond. I am your host, Andrew Rafal, the founder and CEO of Scottsdale-based Bayntree Wealth Advisors. We are a financial firm that is really dedicated to helping each and every one of our client families protect, preserve, grow their wealth, build the roadmap and we work with a lot of business owners, a lot of entrepreneurs. And that’s why we do these podcasts is to really get out there and help educate you, help educate me as a business owner. And I get a lot of questions from other clients as well as business owners, “What type of technology do you use?” And from my end, I’d classify myself as a tech nerd. I’m always looking to see how we can incorporate the latest technologies to help with the business efficiencies, systematize things, help with client relationship management. And with that pursuit, yes, it can be daunting, always the new shiny things coming out, what’s next, what are we going to use. But today what I want to do is break down for you some of the things that have been instrumental in helping our business get to the next level on the technology side.
And yes, we are a financial services firm, so we do use a lot of client-facing technology but I’m not going to really go into that today. We’re going to talk more of how you no matter what business you run, some of the things that you may want to look at to help with building out both your systems, protection and some of those things. At the end of the show, I’ll have a link that goes out that will review some of the major technologies that we talked about today and as always, if you have questions you can email us at email@example.com. And without further ado, let’s jump in.
So, when we look at, from our standpoint, one of the hubs for any business is how do we service our clients. And so, even though we’ve built, evolve and modified our client relationship management system with Salesforce over the last eight years to be heavily focused on our business, I know that Salesforce can be instrumental in proving for any business to be effective. And when you think about how today’s world we have to be client-facing, we have to be on it, having the ability to pull up your clients’ information at a moment’s notice, being able to run reports, being able to see whose birthday that it is, when did they start as a client, and then potentially integrating this to some of the other technologies that are out there like Constant Contact or MailChimp, things of that nature. So, Salesforce, although it’s quite the Cadillac of the CRM systems out there, it’s definitely not cheap. If those of you who have been looking at Salesforce kind of kicking the tires, I highly advise that you really dive in and see if it’s a fit for you. Now there’s definitely some other CRMs out there that are cloud-based like Salesforce but at this point, we haven’t seen anything that is as robust and intuitive as Salesforce. Now, one of the caveats with Salesforce, it’s got a lot of great features. It can be cumbersome. It can be overwhelming. It can be daunting.
Now we’ve hired a firm called NexGen, they’re out of Ohio, that has worked with me hand-in-hand since 2010 and it’s something that you do need to have no matter how well versed you are with it. You have to have a Salesforce consultant that can be there. And it’s not going to Salesforce. It’s actually firms that are dedicated to helping you construct and utilize Salesforce and customize it just for you. The other thing that I have done is with just like apps on iPhone and iTunes with Apple, the Salesforce has what’s called the AppExchange. And so, what these technologies do is they overlay on Salesforce and they allow you in a lot of cases to visually be able to see things that may be the native Salesforce isn’t able to do. For instance, we’ve got hundreds of clients and each of them shares different birthdays. Each of them share their own birthday and we want to be able to make sure we know when our top clients’ birthdays are or when the wedding anniversary or if they have a wealth management review coming up, and we can do that and have that set up as activities but it’s very hard in native Salesforce to be able to see it. So, what we’ve done is I’ve found a technology app called CalendarAnything that we overlay on top and then we built out the program so that I can quantify and say, “Okay. From what I call my platinum clients, I want to see this month all my platinum clients’ birthdays.” So, what it’s doing is it’s pulling in and I’m able to see a calendar that highlights the different color codes of a client, their age, their ranking, etcetera, and I can see when their actual birthday is and it’s just a game changer. So that is one technology that we’ve overlaid. So, there are multitudes of different types of apps that you can overlay but the key is with Salesforce, it is one of the best programs out there.
Now one of the areas that I guess you could say the downsides to any CRM especially as you get more in tune to it and you’re using it more and more is that and why Salesforce has a great business model is I’m in bed with Salesforce. Bayntree, unless something drastic happens, is going to be very, very difficult for me to ever leave Salesforce. Now does that mean that they’re not going to continue evolving their technology? Of course not. They are at the forefront of that but that’s why you want to make sure whoever you move forward with on the CRM is somebody that you want to work with for the long haul. As your company gets bigger, get more employees, you definitely don’t want to have to change and export and build all new reports and teach your staff how to use that technology. So, on a client relationship basis, we definitely, definitely would recommend you look at Salesforce. Again, with all the podcast that I do, there is no scratching. There are no ulterior motives here. I’m not getting compensated by any of these firms out there so take that with a grain of salt.
One thing that many of you may have been using personally is the password protection programs. So, back in the day, growing up, I bet each of you that were born in the 70s and 80s and before that, I bet you remember your home phone number right there. Boom. It’s in your head. Can you remember your wife’s, your husband’s cell phone number right now? I bet half of you may not remember. My daughter got a cellphone. I could not tell you that number right now even though I should memorize that. So, we don’t have to memorize numbers anymore. What we have to memorize is our passwords. The one thing you don’t want to do is have the same password for every program, the same username for every login. That is a disaster waiting to happen. So, the last few years we started researching on our end is how do we use these password programs to make life easy for us? And so, I focused on a company called LastPass, and there are several other ones. I’m not saying LastPass is the end all, be all but how I incorporate LastPass is two facets. One is personally I’m able to use it and then secondly, I’ve created an enterprise version for my employees. And the way that any type of password program works is that think of it as you have one main major crazy ass password that it’s going to be your main login. And once you log in to the main hub then any site that you’ve positioned in there is going to pull up the username and the password. So, ultimately, if I’m logged in to LastPass, I can go to any site that is associated with it and it will automatically pull in the username and password and I can log on to the account. So, that’s fantastic because now I don’t have to remember all these passwords and when creating these accounts, you can make different passwords for everything. You can even have LastPass create their own password for you, but the key is you don’t have to remember everything. So, personally, it’s been a game changer.
But now you tie in the enterprise. So, think about you as a business owner. You’ve got maybe three employees. You may have 30 employees. On our end, with financial services and our logins to see certain things within that realm, it’s important for me to have the protection for my company, for my client. So, what we’re able to do on an enterprise level is I’ve created Bayntree Wealth Advisors enterprise corporate account with LastPass. And then within there, I’m able to add users or employees and then within that world, I’m able to create what’s called shared folders and those shared folders allow each staff access to certain aspects or certain websites that they need to go on. But here’s the key is once they’re logged in, they will go to that website and it will automatically pull in the username, it’ll automatically pull in the password. The password will not show up. It will all be the little asterisks. So, the key there is they’re able to go on, log in and not have to deal with remembering the password or the security factor of them potentially changing that password. The other factor is let’s say you lose an employee. Well, instead of having to go change the password across the board for all of these different websites, I just make one change either knocking them out of the system, kicking them out, deleting them or I can go in and I can make the one change across that platform and it changes it. But ultimately what we normally do is that we will make that change by just getting rid of that user. So, you think about that. Whatever business that you’re in, imagine being able to control on a high-level what each of your employees are able to see on a username and a password, having different divisions of the company being able to have different access to different areas and then being able to disable or enable at any time the ability for that particular employee to have access to that pertinent information.
So, I look at there was life before LastPass and then life after LastPass and believe me, life after LastPass, a lot easier life. So, and LastPass is not that expensive. It is definitely well worth the investment. Even if you don’t have employees, I recommend using some aspect whether it be LastPass or the other ones for your personal and they’ve also now have an iPhone app that ties in as well. So, that is one thing that’s been fantastic for us on that front.
One other area, and again, a lot of this is cloud-based so for years at the old firms that I’ve helped create, we had servers. And in those servers, they were hosted in our office. I have to have the tech team out, we have to monitor it, we have to back it up and it takes up a lot of space and it’s just a lot. It was a headache. So, over the last decade or so, cloud-based solutions have come on board. These cloud-based solutions of everything, most of you have heard of Dropbox. We actually made the decision a few years ago to use Box.com and Box is just like Dropbox, same premise just like Google drive. The server itself is in the cloud. The meat part of Box is that again at the enterprise level, I can create lots of different rules and regulations and restrictions. Also as the admin, you are able to monitor exactly what people can see, what they can download, what they did download and who is in your network itself. So, it gives you a very compliant – and it’s HIPAA compliant. The encryption on it whereby, this is important, you might think, “Well, where is my data going?” Well, the way it’s set up with Box is although it is in the cloud, the encryption makes it where you can have that peace of mind knowing that your data is safe. And here’s the other benefit is if you lose an employee, you can just shut them out. So, the cloud-based solutions although Dropbox or Box may not be right for you, I think it’s something to look at, the cost-effectiveness of it, not having to deal with somebody servicing the server, and the fact that it backs up and I can trash things and untrash things, very, very key.
One of the other things that most of these programs do including Box is that it allows you to sync folders to your computer. So rather than having to be logged in all the time, just like if you’re using Windows or Mac, you have the ability to just like with a normal server, you create folders and subfolders and so forth for organization. Well, the key here is you can sync those folders from Box to your computer. So, then what you can do is save, drag-and-drop or whatnot the file into that particular folder and then it automatically will save it across the board. So, whether I’m saving it on my phone, save it in my office computer, on my laptop, on my home computer, all of those sync folders will be there in real-time. So, it’s like a server on steroids. And I know many of you know Box and Dropbox but the many of you who have been looking at it and thinking, “Yeah, I just don’t know,” I think that has been a big game changer for us in the efficiencies as well as keeping some cost down and for a lot more control for you as the admin to control what’s going in, what’s going out, who gets to see certain things. And it also works well for those, you could create folders for nonemployees. Let’s say you’re working on a contract basis with a graphic designer. You could create a folder that can share it with them and then that way they in a sense have access to that specific sector of your server and that way, they don’t have to be emailing things back and forth to you.
So, Box.com, Dropbox, any of them are great. I do think Box has the most, I think, on the scope of compliance and protection encryption, I just feel like that one’s more business focused. I may be wrong. Again, don’t take this as the gospel but that was the research that we did, the due diligence that we did. So, the cost of it, you are paying monthly, so it does add up but overall, I think it’s definitely cost-effective compared to keeping your own server and having to then log-in off the network and so forth. So, that’s important. When you’re looking at that as well, firewalls are very important. Make sure that you’re working with a team of IT team that understand things. No matter what business you’re in, you’ve got to be forefront in regard to viruses, in regard to spam, in regard to phishing emails. We get them all the time here and we actually have a training program for our staff using a third-party that every quarter requires that they do training, send sometimes phishing emails just to see, they’re fake ones, but just to see if they’re going to click on it. So, those are important and then from our side we use a firewall, we use Meraki which is enabling us to have additional protection against outside sources there. So, we know with Equifax and all of the things that have been happening with the privacy of records and just some of those things that are going to continue on, you’ve got to be, a cat-and-mouse game, you’ve got to stay in touch with all of those things. Otherwise, you’re one bad click away from your worst employee, mistake. You’re one bad click away from maybe a client doing something. On our end, we also assume that if a client emails us, that email is always come think of it as being hacked. So, if somebody sends us a request, even though we can tell it’s 100% official, we will always make contact with that client and that’s important. So, those are things that you can look out whether you’re in a financial services space or not. You’ve got to make sure you’re tied in with a team that you trust, the IT world, consistent in constant battle against the different forces out there. So, you got to stay diligent, stay on top of it.
Last thing I want to talk about, you know, again this is using cloud-based. Back in the day, we were using Microsoft and Exchange. We had the Exchange server. A few years ago, we switched to Office 365. Office 365 is cloud-based which is fantastic and then it allows us to bring out and download to each of our respective computers the most updated Microsoft Outlook, Excel, Word, PowerPoint, etcetera. We also backup the emails as well so that’s important even though it’s being backed up on Office 365. We’re backing them up as well so that we’re keeping this constant trail. But that way I don’t have to have a Microsoft Exchange server anymore. So, you’ve got to trust what’s out there. You’ve got to trust that the cloud is there for protection but you’ve also got to be able to kind of be, not pro, you got to be reactive or proactive. You want to be proactive in all these things and that’s very, very important.
So, I hope this was helpful. Technology is something that’s going to be here for a long haul and we’ve got to make sure that we keep up with it. If you have any questions on that, below the show notes you can click on the PDF that would break down the couple of companies that we talked about today and like anything, if you have any questions, give me a call.