Technology: Outside of the Matrix

This is part two of a multi-part series (part one here). Because the scope of you, Mr./Mrs. Brave Broker, leaving Wall Street deserves more. This will serve as your breakaway guide. It’s a brave new world, and I want you to succeed. Let’s begin…

It all starts with technology. If you plan on leaving Wall Street, you better get up to speed. You’re going to need to move more smartly than the agents (aka financial advisors still) inside the matrix. It’s ok, if you practice & are well equipped you’ll be fine. Inside this training module I plan on showing you what you can do.

First things first, Weapons–your workstation. Spend the money– get the best. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to do it. I ran my entire practice on a Macbook Pro the first year. Being small & nimble is the key to you being faster, strong, better than Wall Street. For my money, running a Mac using VMware to access Microsoft Windows simultaneously is the best of both worlds. On the Mac side, I frequently use Keynote (think powerpoint on Steroids) Numbers (not as robust as excel but prettier looking graphical presentations of data), & Pages (like MS word but prettier). I use Windows to access some of the financial portals stuck in the dark ages and bought 2010 Excel for data crunching. As things become more web-based (and they all are) Windows will become irrelevant to my daily needs. Google Docs, hello. Switching to the mac is the best move you’ll ever make vs. that Wall Street POS you’ve been using. And since I use iPads & iPhones it just made that much more sense for me to be in their native environment.

You’ll also want a powerful scanner. I use the Fuijitsu ScanSnap S510m— why? It scans color, two-sided, and has a multipage feed. I use this everyday, it is an animal. I run basically a paperless office as a result. Do you remember all of that paper in your office? All of those file cabinets. Stupid. Now I’m in the cloud & redundantly backed up. I can access files from almost anywhere in the world & securely.

Of course, you won’t need a fax machine since and efax, etc. are so easy, so fast & so cheap.

Email– you need it to be backed up and stored for the SEC. Use Smarsh— they are the best, and one of the cheapest. A rare combination.

Lastly, get yourself a good color printer (ie. laser) & a solid black and white. I’ve used three different brands finally settling & loving both of my current printers made by Brother. Make sure whatever you choose that it supports two-sided printing. Recently though, I have to tell you, I think I could get away with only the b&w printer for paperwork and just buy a couple of extra iPads for client presentations. Each iPad would be paid for after two color toner recharges, basically 1 year of usage per iPad.

All of this amounted to maybe 5% of my first year of gross revenue (and I was only managing $25 million to start). And it’s world class now, each component best-in-class.

Welcome to the 21st century.

The next thing to realize is almost everything is open source outside of the matrix (Wall Street). Almost any software you could want or need plugs into any of the Operators I told you about yesterday (Schwab, TD, Fidelity). So, skies the limit. You name it: Performance Reporting, Billing, Record-keeping, or CRM. You want account applications signature ready? Done. World class financial planning software that syncs with portfolio data? Easy. Portfolio management software? Unbelievable. All beautiful. Modular. Rigorously field tested & working. Unlike your firm’s software. And each with their own customer support– and THEY care, unlike your firm’s IT department. Updates are early and often, also unlike your firm’s IT department.

I’m going to give you a gift that was given to me when I first left Wall Street– a silver bullet.  Here’s Your Silver Bullet. It’s a list of all of the software providers that work inter-operably. You’ll find it useful as you begin your quest for the tools you’ll want.

Auspiciously absent from the list is Morningstar. They have a wonderful tool with their Office suite & it works with most of the providers on the list. I recently started using them & really do love them. I lean on them for record-keeping, research, document safe storage, performance reporting, portfolio rebalancing, data reconciliation, and billing.  In all areas I’ve been pleased. Even better, I use a couple of operators (TD & Schwab) and it aggregates and reconciles all of the data daily. It creates buy/sell orders with 2 mouse clicks for an unlimited number of model portfolios and smartly creates the correctly formatted spreadsheet to upload to my operator for execution. I can have a custom portfolio for each client if I want. I can rebalance my entire practice in about 4 mouse clicks. I could never do that inside the matrix at my old firm. And billing? Four more mouse clicks. No other provider has mastered things to this level of simplicity. I used Black Diamond before for performance reporting & data reconciliation. The reports were beautiful, but billing was always a hassle. They didn’t have a rebalance function. I don’t see anyone delivering the suite Morningstar has right now. The game is theirs to win, or lose.

When it comes to performance reporting almost everyone is familiar with the Morningstar reports– they are beautiful. Morningstar is definitely focused (and winning) in the back office arena. Admittedly, their CRM is still lacking. Ultimately though, I think compartmentalizing CRM & back office services is a killer combination. And in the end, the possibilities are limitless. That being said, my best advice is for you to granulize your CRM needs into buckets: Marketing, Tasks, Record-keeping.

Marketing & tasks are functions for your daily CRM needs. For example, we use a company not yet mentioned here, 37 Signals, for our day-to-day note taking, deal flow management, and newsletter list management because it’s fast, light weight, mobile, intuitive, & ubiquitous. And whiz bang? After a call with a client I can voice record my long meeting notes for playback. I can email in tasks. Move emails into a contact’s file by cc:ing a special address. Badass. The same could be said of Salesforce I suppose, although I found it to be a little bit more than we needed. I like super simple– zen; for me 37 Signals is my kind of approach.

For record-keeping– the static, clunky, important stuff that we just need to be part of the back office, we are content with Morningstar’s less focused suite solution.

With the combined fire power today, I can run circles around any Wall Street firm.

How do I beat them? Do you believe that my being stronger or faster has anything to do with my muscles in this place? Try again.

What are you waiting for? You’re faster than this. Don’t think you are. Know you are.


Tomorrow we continue your training: “People to look for…”

Disclosure: I receive no remuneration for any names mentioned– I’m simply sharing because I want you to succeed. The more people who leave Wall Street the better off Main Street is, it’s just that simple & that makes me smile.

Full Disclosure: Nothing on this site should ever be considered to be advice, research or an invitation to buy or sell any securities, please see my Terms & Conditions page for a full disclaimer. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to and affiliated sites.

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