Does My RIA Need Onsite IT Support? RIA Tech Talk Episode #6

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Explore the world of RIA technology with insights from the RIA Tech Talk podcast by RIA Workspace. In this episode, Todd Darroca and David Kish discuss the relevance of onsite computer and IT support for RIAs. They delve into common assumptions about the necessity of onsite assistance, addressing misconceptions and shedding light on the shift towards remote support.

RIA tech expertise trumps location

In this podcast we highlight that most RIAs, regardless of location, prefer remote support due to its efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Understanding the specific needs of RIAs is crucial for your IT provider, and a lot of local providers simply don’t have that experience and don’t understand your unique challenges. 

Few tasks can’t be done remotely

It’s a myth that certain tasks, like new computer setup or office location configuration, require an onsite presence.  In reality, these can be efficiently managed remotely.

Remote doesn’t mean slower

The podcast also challenges the traditional view that local support guarantees faster response times.  The truth is that remote troubleshooting often surpasses onsite support in speed and effectiveness.  In fact, a local provider might use remote troubleshooting for most of the work they do for you anyhow. 

The cloud makes onsite less important

Modern technology has shifted towards cloud-based solutions, rendering the need for onsite support less critical.  Most issues are resolved remotely. 

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Read The Transcript:

Todd Darroca (00:10):

Hello and welcome to the RIA Tech Talk podcast, brought to you by RIA Workspace. I’m Todd Darroca, and of course, joining me every time is Mr. David Kish. Together we’re on a mission to simplify the complex world of technology for RIAs just like yours. So in this podcast, we’ll be your tech guides breaking down those often confusing tech topics into the plain, layman’s term, practical terms for you. So join us in each episode as we dive into the latest tech trends, share expert insights and help you navigate the ever-changing world of the RIA technology. So let’s get started. David, welcome. Obviously, it’s good to have you here, always here because you’re the one who knows all this stuff. I’m just here to be your sidekick, but today’s session is, does my RIA need onsite computer slash IT support? So David, is this a question a lot of our a’s ask and why is it important for them to be asking themselves this question if they’re not?

David Kakish (01:09):

Yeah, it’s a really important question and we actually get this question a lot based in Chicago, but we support RIAs nationwide. And so the quick answer to that question is yes, we provide onsite support, but the follow-up question is, do you need onsite support, right? Computer IT support and so on. And so by the end of the session today, you’re going to know whether or not your RIA needs onsite computer and IT support why some RIAs are comfortable with remote IT support and why some want to have the onsite IT and computer support and kind of where you fall in. So Todd, if it’s okay, well I should say I want to welcome you, I want to welcome the listener and let’s kind of dive right on in.

Todd Darroca (01:55):

Yeah,

David Kakish (01:55):

Yeah, yeah. So I guess I’m going to talk about it in detail, but I don’t like calling you a sidekick because I think a lot more than you claim to know. But if I asked you that question, let’s pretend you’re that CCO, the Chief Compliance Officer for an RIA with 10 employees. I guess I would ask you that question. Do you need onsite computer and IT support for your RIA and if you needed that, what would you need it for? I’m asking you. I’m playing devil’s an advocate. Yeah,

Todd Darroca (02:32):

I guess the first thing I’d ask is how much is it going to cost me to have an onsite person there and is it worth that full-time employee being there just for 10 people? I don’t think I would honestly, I probably wouldn’t hire an IT guy or person.

David Kakish (02:51):

Let me rephrase the question. I’m not necessarily saying hiring an IT person. Most RIAs are not hiring an IT person. They don’t want to manage an it. They’re like, oh no, that’s the last thing you want to do. But if you worked with a company that provided you IT support and IT services. Got it. Yeah. Would you want it onsite IT support and what would you want it for?

Todd Darroca (03:14):

I would, yeah, just so that I could be able to quickly, if I had a fire drill, I can get somebody right away. I can quickly just go over to them and see what’s going on. And if there was a security breach or something, I at least have somebody there that I can grab quickly. So I’m always hesitant just for people to be remote just because I dunno if I can get ’em that fast. So especially if things are happening, it’s just like are they going to respond fast enough if something happens? So

David Kakish (03:48):

Your big thing is like, hey listen, if we need something, we need it fast, right? And then the next logical, at least in your mind it’s like, hey, if fast means that they’re local or they come on onsite right away. So the irony of all that is fast is a lot faster when it’s remote than it’s onsite because even if they’re 10 drive from you, they prefer to provide a remote support faster rather than actually scheduling an onsite visit and doing a lot of that stuff. So it’s interesting, your line of logic on that right there, and I’ll dive into it, but I just wanted to tell you, even if you worked with an IT provider and they were 10 minutes away from you, it’s a lot faster for them to provide you with remote support rather than put an engineer in a car, drive to your location and provide support with you that way.

(04:34):

So I just wanted to quickly talk about the speed thing. Alright, so I’m going to dive right into that, but Todd, I like how you’re thinking about this, right? It’s a speed thing like, hey listen, there’s something going on, I need it and I need it fast. I don’t care if you’re remote or on site. At least that’s what we get. Yeah. Alright, so again, the question comes up a lot. Does my RIA need onsite IT computer and IT support? And if so, what kind of support is needed for that? We’re based out of Chicago. We support RIAs nationwide. We do have the ability to provide onsite IT support regardless of where you are. It’s an additional fee. The ironic thing is when people see that additional fee, most of them choose not to go with that option and most RIAs prefer to do it all remote now.

(05:19):

So I just wanted to kind of quickly do that and then you and I were going to kind of dissect different pieces of that. And one of the first questions that comes up is what about onsite servers, physical servers that I might have in my office? So that’s one of the things that comes up. What’s happened really over the course of the last five to 10 years, most RIAs that are 5, 10, 25 employees no longer have an onsite server. Or if they do have an onsite server, it’s doing something very simple like a file server or something called a domain controller. You don’t need to have that anymore. And again, most RIAs have moved to web-based applications, think Salesforce, red Tail, Orion, Tamarack and so on. And so yes, 10 years and before you had a lot of onsite servers and there was complexity and this and that and all that fun stuff.

(06:16):

You don’t have that today. And even the people that actually have that today we’re decommissioning those onsite servers for ‘EM and running everything on the Microsoft cloud because you don’t need to have, let me put it to you this way, I haven’t met a single RIA in the last two years that has a core business or IT requirement to run a server in their office. I’ll just leave it at that. So I don’t know if you had any follow-up questions on that. I can talk a lot about this, but any follow-up questions or did you want to ask me something else?

Todd Darroca (06:48):

No, that’s just interesting to me. And obviously technology has advanced duh, but it’s just interesting that most of the servers are not on site anymore or that they’re decommissioning them and that the cloud, the cloud has become much more secure and people are obviously trusting that more. So that’s just interesting, especially I don’t know if data laws or regulations require or used to require that they were on-prem and maybe that’s just by industry, but that’s just interesting. I wouldn’t think they would decommission them, but obviously

David Kakish (07:22):

Yeah. Yeah, and it is. I mean if you think about what did a server in your office used to do 10 years ago as an RIA, it used to run email, it used to run your files, it used to run applications, your applications and things like that. And then it used to be security and fun stuff like that. So when you think about email, almost everybody has embraced that I don’t need to have an email server in my office anymore that it’s a hosted email with Microsoft or Google or whoever. People say, okay, you know what? It’s much more redundant, it’s much more secure. It’s the same thing with applications. When you think about applications, a lot of the applications have moved to web-based applications. So you used to have a CRM that used to run on your server in your office and now you’re using Salesforce or Red Tail or take your pick of wealth box, whatever, take your pick on that.

(08:20):

Those are all web-based applications. They’re not running on that server anymore. There are some very few exceptions, but you don’t really need that. And then the third part is your files and folders. So what are people using today? They’re using Google Drive. An RIA is using SharePoint, dropbox box.com and so on. And so when you start thinking about that, you’re like, all right, what is my server? What’s the purpose of my server in my office anymore? There is no purpose. And when you had again servers in your office, there was complexity, you kind of needed to manage that, you had to do a lot. But we’ve sort of eliminated that. And so a business today running web-based applications, and I’ll use Microsoft and there are others that can do this, but you have your own private Microsoft network or your Microsoft tenant, and that is just for your RIA. It’s not shared with anybody else. And you can accomplish all that in your email, your applications, your web-based applications, your files and folders, and then your security. So anyways, so to answer your question, as an industry holistically, they’ve moved from onsite servers to no need to have that. And so a big part of an IT person coming onsite a lot of times was also dealing with the complexity of an onsite server. And that’s kind of gone away.

Todd Darroca (09:44):

Got it, got it. So what kind of IT equipment, what is that IT equipment that’s in my office. I don’t have the servers and all that. What is that in my office?

David Kakish (09:54):

So a typical office, again, whether you’re three people or 30 or it doesn’t matter, it’s going to be the same thing. So typically you’ve got your internet connection and then right after that you have a network firewall. Some people will call it a router or something like that, but let’s you think a network firewall and then you have a switch and then you have a wireless access point and then you just have all the computers and printers that sort of connect and you’re working. So again, from a network perspective, you have a number one is a network firewall. Number two, you have a switch. And then number three, you just have a wireless access point. And those are the three things that, and again, those are typically we manage, monitor and maintain all those remotely. We don’t need to come on site to do that.

Todd Darroca (10:38):

When you talk about coming on, you come in remotely, obviously there are some RAs that will only want to work with a local provider. So why is that? If servers are more on the cloud and it’s all going offsite, why do some still want that person in? Honestly, I would do the same thing. I’d be like, yeah, I want a local guy here. So I guess what have you seen in your experience of why that is in broader respects? Yeah,

David Kakish (11:11):

Let me kind of talk about it this way. I think, again, we work with RIAs nationwide. Most of our work is done supporting them remotely. We have the ability to be on site when we need to be on site. It’s an additional fee to do that. The vast majority, over 90% prefer to just go with a remote option. They’re saving money and things like that. Now, there is one valid reason why RIAs typically will work with a local provider and it’s part of their DNA and they say, Hey look, we’re a company, we’re based in Detroit. We want to support the local economy and we want to work with a local IT provider. We’re based in Chicago. And I get it, I understand that, I respect it. And it’s sort of just a company policy to say, look, we’ve really set up our company. So we only work with a local IT provider and it doesn’t happen a lot, but it does come up on occasion.

(12:10):

I go, Hey, listen, I respect that. And that’s fine. And you can absolutely do that. Now, the only problem that I would say, and I am very transparent when I say this, is you’re an RIA with seven employees, 15 employees, whatever that number is, regardless of a UM, when you work with a local IT provider, they’re a good local IT provider. They don’t understand the unique challenges of your RIA. So you might be 12 employees as an RIA, but you’re different because your requirements for cybersecurity, for IT compliance for productivity are very different than that business across town or across the street with 12 employees. Both of you might be 12 employees, but your local IT provider is going to treat you very similar to the other company you’ve got as a 12 person RIA, you have millions in a UM, that other company. And so your requirements for big business or enterprise security in a platform are just very different than that other business.

(13:12):

And so a lot of times what happens is they work with that local provider and then realize within a year or two that they’ve kind of outgrown them or there’s a disconnect where it’s not that local provider doesn’t care about security or IT compliance. They don’t realize that they need it. Like your RIA needs it just like a big business needs it. You need a big business cybersecurity and IT compliance requirement. So in many ways you’re doing yourself a disservice by working with a local IT provider. Now you’re helping the local economy. And I get it and I respect it, but there’s just so many. Again, they’re treating you like a 12 person business that doesn’t have millions of dollars in AUM m. So that’s a little bit of what we see, but honestly, that’s one of the biggest valid reasons why people will sometimes work with, again, even in a remote market, I use Detroit as a major metro, but you could be out in the middle of nowhere Iowa and you say, no, we want to work with a local company because we want to support the local economy. But again, you’re just doing your RIA little bit of a disservice because you’re working with somebody that just doesn’t get the uniqueness of your RIA.

Todd Darroca (14:21):

And I think it’s interesting, and this kind of goes back to what you said earlier, that most companies are working with remote support and many times the support or the tech support will just want a remote in. So I’m assuming that probably these local IT providers do the same thing. They’re probably not coming in, they’re probably just remoting in, right?

David Kakish (14:47):

Yeah. Yeah. You bring up a good point. So it’s funny, your it, and I get this all the time, and I talked about this earlier, you might be working with a local IT provider in your town that’s a 10 minute drive from your office. But when I ask, and I get this a lot, and my favorite question is asked to say, Hey, listen, in the last year, how often have they been on site? And they sit down and they think, right, just kind of like your brain was thinking through and they’re like, as a matter of fact, they’ve not been on site in the last year or even the last two years, or if they have been on onsite, it’s once or something very minimal. The way that MSPs and IT companies are set up, even if they are local to that market, is to quickly help you remotely.

(15:33):

And then if it’s needed on site, that’s sort of the secondary, and then it gets scheduled and okay, we’ll have somebody out there tomorrow or next week or something like that, but kind of like that fast response that’s happening remotely anyways. Even if the company is a five minute drive from your office, it’s a waste of time for that local IT provider to put an engineer in a car drive to your place, get into your place and do that. Not that I’m not saying that they don’t do that, it’s just a lot slower and that’s sort of the secondary response. But again, yeah, you’re right, Todd. I find it interesting. I ask and they’re like, oh yeah, but there’s that comfort level of, Hey, I’m working with Todd and Todd’s local and I get it and I respect it, but Todd hasn’t been on site for the last one to two years.

Todd Darroca (16:22):

So what would be the common issues that you would need someone on site or at least that historically I would need to call somebody to get on site. Again, like I said, I would rather them come in fast, but as you kind of pointed out, it’s a 10 minute drive, it’s X, Y, and Z, so what were the common issues that I would need somebody on site for?

David Kakish (16:42):

So these are the things that we do remotely for our clients, and we’re able to do that remotely. And actually a lot of IT providers, even if they are in your local market, will do it remotely, but there’s a misconception that, hey, I need somebody physically in my office to do that. So I’ll talk about a couple of those things. One of the things that comes up a lot is like, Hey, how do you set up a new computer? We hired Mary and Mary’s going to start in two weeks. We need to get her new computer set up, right?

(17:11):

An RIA, like yours, A-C-C-O-A lot of times will think, oh, okay, I’ll call Todd, Todd’s local, and then Todd will come on site, set it up, and everything is good to go. All this is done remotely. We ask you to just plug it into the internet. We set it up for Mary, her Outlook, her applications, the credentials and all that fun stuff. And so we do it all remote. We don’t need to be physically on site. Where we need your help is just to plug in the internet cable so we can get it to the internet, and then we just take it from there. That’s how we’re doing it with our

Todd Darroca (17:45):

Clients. And you can add security software that let’s say somebody loses their laptop, you can wipe it. You can still do that all remotely. Wow. Yeah,

David Kakish (17:55):

Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. So we actually just by default, we do that. It’s a good point that you bring up. And what we’re doing is we’re installing encryption and then we’re also installing remote wipe. And then I won’t get into this too much, but it’s the same thing with your iPhone and your iPad and Android and stuff like that, but I’m just using a computer as an example. Gotcha, gotcha. Cool. Yeah, the other, go ahead, you were going to ask.

Todd Darroca (18:17):

No, yeah, I’m just taking it in as far as I remember. I dunno if I’m aging myself. I remember when you’d have to go to, when I joined a company, you’d get a big old laptop and you’d go over to your CIS admin and they would set you up with all the software and the deep freeze kind of stuff to wipe it. Again, I’m not surprised, but it’s just, it’s different now that you can just do it, plug it into the internet, and then somebody else can set it up for you. So

David Kakish (18:48):

Yeah, the key by the way, just is setting it up whether you’re onsite or remote, doesn’t matter, right? It’s just setting up the right security mechanisms, the right applications, all that fun stuff. Yeah, cool. The other really big misconception too is a new location set up. Let’s just say you’re in Austin and you say, Hey, we want to open up another office in Houston or whatever the case might be. Again, typically even if you’re going to have a new office and you’re going to have five employees work there, number one is a network firewall. Number two is a switch, and number three is a wireless access point. And we have the ability to configure and set all that up remotely. What we don’t have a patent on is plugging everything physically in person. We need somebody to do that. And so we have the ability to have somebody be in Houston or whatever market for a half a day to set this up, but there’s a fee for it.

(19:47):

And so Todd, we’re like, Hey, I mean, I’ll just kind of say it. Typically it’s $150 an hour for either four hours or eight hours to have somebody there. So you do the math and Todd calculates the math and his heading, you know what? That’s okay. We’ll have Bob on our team plug it in for you so you can beat his eyes and his ears and it’s not that hard. So we walk Bob through it and it’s pretty simple. So I would say 80 to 90% of the time people prefer that option, but there are occasionally where they say, Hey, look, we’re busy. We don’t want to, Todd’s not really good with his hands, just that’s okay, bill us and have somebody out for a full day or a half a day. But again, even when we do that, that person that’s on site isn’t configuring it. They’re just plugging it in and that’s it. We’re doing all the configuration and all the setup remotely. So again, computer setup, we do it all remote, new office setup or a new location setup. We do it all remote, but again, we can be on onsite if you want us to. The third one, so I’m talk about the three most common ones is like, Hey, what about printing? How do you guys help me with printing remotely? Isn’t

Todd Darroca (20:53):

That crazy that still after all this technology, the printer is the thing that still busts or causes the biggest headaches in life? The printer?

David Kakish (21:03):

Yeah. Well, and it’s funny, it’s just not a big deal for our clients because we troubleshoot all that remotely. There’s a network printer that everybody can connect to or there’s an individual printer to my computer. Now, obviously we can’t remotely put in the toner and stuff like that. We’re working on a patent on that. We’re

Todd Darroca (21:25):

Not there yet. Not yet, not yet.

David Kakish (21:27):

But in terms of troubleshooting, like, hey, I can’t print and this and that. And again, the funny part is if you work with a local IT provider, they’re going to want to troubleshoot that remotely before they even come in. So I’m just kind of painting the picture. The three most common ones that people assume you need to be on site and you don’t is a new computer, set up a new office location. And number three, just printer troubleshooting. Listen, I’m going to even go a step further. And I would say it’s actually even an advantage to support you remotely because a lot of RIAs today work in the office and they work at home and the question becomes, Hey, I need help, but I’m not in the office, so what you going to come to my house or just help me. I don’t want you coming to my house.

(22:15):

Stuff like that. And it’s faster. It’s funny, at the top of the call, you and I were talking and you mentioned speed, and I go, I can assure you, even in our local market, just so you know, in Chicago with our clients where we do go onsite, we have it set up so that the fast support is remote, and then anything onsite gets scheduled. So we’re really resolving things remotely first and then scheduling that on site, even if you’re a five minute drive from where I’m physically at right now, that’s how we’re, plus by the way, we should say a lot of our people work remotely anyways. They work from both. So the location of the office is somewhat irrelevant, but even us, I’m just telling you how we do it. Even if somebody was a five minute drive, right? Our workflow is set up so that we can quickly support them remotely, but then if we need somebody on site, we can go ahead and we could schedule that. But again, it’s so infrequent, it’s just crazy. So I hope this kind of gives you an idea, the common question we get, and in my head it’s sort of like, yeah, it’s a simple answer, but I keep forgetting that it’s simple for us, but it’s when it’s new to somebody else, you’re like, oh, okay, yeah, these are things that I’m actually curious about.

Todd Darroca (23:31):

So as somebody who’s still in the car or listening to us as they’re doing stuff at home, recap for me again why somebody would need an onsite computer IT support and actually why they probably don’t need an onsite support.

David Kakish (23:48):

So here’s my quick answer. You probably don’t need onsite support, but if you do, we can help you with that. And again, the only exception is if you’re trying to support the local economy, which I appreciate and I respect, but you’re doing a disservice to yourself if that’s the case, because typically a local IT provider just doesn’t understand the unique challenges of an RIA. You’re typically small from a headcount, but your requirements are like that of a big business. From an onsite support perspective, people are usually, it’s a common question. And then when I talk about it, they’re usually shocked. I’m like, oh yeah, you know what? That does make sense. And here, maybe I’ll leave you with this idea. Think about this. What is the value of somebody helping you onsite? If you’ve got a problem with the Google Suite or the Microsoft Suite, it’s not even sitting in your office in the first place, right? It’s sitting at the Microsoft data center. So you need somebody or Google or Dropbox or Salesforce. What’s the value of somebody helping you with Salesforce or with Microsoft hosted because you have nothing that’s on site. So I think that the industry has really shifted where we can do all that remote and we can help you remote. There’s little value in providing onsite, but for those clients that that is something that we provide, but over 90% don’t want to pay the extra money to get that. Yeah.

Todd Darroca (25:18):

So how can someone, if they’re starting a new business or they’re looking at that, what’s the best first step they can take to talk with you or your team? Yeah,

David Kakish (25:27):

I mean, I would just say, look, we have a lot of really helpful resources on our website. So if you go to our website@www.riaworkspace.com and you click on the learning center, if you kind of want to do it on your own and learn, we’ve got a lot of very helpful material there. If not, just reach out to us. We can give you a quote, no cost to you at all, and you can kind of see what’s involved. And yeah, I would just leave it at that. A lot of times when people are sort of looking at changing like their IT provider or a breakaway RIA or whatever, there’s just so many things on their mind that what I think is simple from an IT perspective is kind of complex because we’re just one small component of their entire business. And so it’s almost like, Hey, I want to work with somebody who eliminates this headache. Just take care of this for us. Here’s the check and let’s move on. That’s typically what that is. But I would definitely, if you want to talk to us, reach out to us, get a quote, it’s free, or if you kind of want to learn, go to our learning center. We have some really great blogs and white papers and where we talk about this in more detail.

Todd Darroca (26:35):

Awesome. Well, David, as always, it’s always a learning experience for me, learning some new stuff, and hopefully for you listening and watching that is the same experience you’re getting. So hey, thanks so much for listening to the RIA Tech Talk podcast, brought to you by of course, RIA workspace. And as David mentioned, go to the learning center at the website and also you can find our previous podcasts and other helpful resources for you. And David and team is always happy to answer any questions you may have. So obviously, reach out to them directly. Just go to the website, ria workspace.com and they’ll answer it there. So for David Kish and the rest of us, I’m Todd Darroca, and thanks so much for joining us on this episode and stay tuned for more RIA Tech Insights in our next episode. We’ll see you later guys.

David Kakish (27:20):

Thank you.

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