Remote vs. Onsite IT Support: Making the Right Choice for Your RIA

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Reliable IT support is a necessity for RIAs and financial advisors. When it comes to finding a service provider you have countless options – from a business in your city to a business across the country.

Does location matter? Here are a few things to consider.

1. Is on-site support needed for most RIAs?

In our experience, most RIAs do not require on-site support. The old days of on-site servers that require in-person support has been replaced with cloud-based storage and remote access tools. Our clients generally have between 5 and 25 employees and rarely does the need arise for someone to be on site.

IT management today has very efficient tools that let us manage everything remotely. That includes managing onsite servers, network hardware, and individual devices. You may have experience with an IT technician remotely accessing your device to help you troubleshoot a problem. Just like that technology, IT professionals can access everything they need to access with these remote tools.

2. What does on-site support offer that remote support can’t?

Aside from a technician being physically present, someone who provides on-site support can’t really offer any service that a remote IT provider can’t.

Keep in mind that even if the firm is 5-minutes away, they know that they can resolve your issue quicker remotely then to visit your office to fix it. And if they do come to your office to fix it, not only would it likely take longer because of travel time, but they may just use the same tools that a remote team would.

3. Do we need on-site support when we get new hardware or open a new office?

No. New hardware like laptops or tablets are shipped fully configured and you can plug them in and go. For firewalls, switches, or other networking hardware, we fully configure it and usually only require you to plug it in. Any other steps required on-site are easy and we walk you through them. Today’s hardware is built to be managed remotely.

4. Is remote support enough for RIAs using Microsoft or cloud-based applications?

Yes. In fact, Microsoft and many other cloud-based applications used by RIAs and financial advisors are designed to accommodate remote access support.

5. How often will someone be at our office if we choose someone who provides on-site support?

This will depend on your contract. However, most IT providers will provide support remotely almost 100% of the time. Many offer scheduled visits but if they are keeping things running well and you have no IT issues, you’re paying for an on-site visit for nothing. It’s unlikely that they would do day-to-day troubleshooting or even regular maintenance on-site. This will almost all be done remotely.

6. Does on-site support cost more?

Yes. You will generally pay a premium for this service.

7. Does RIA WorkSpace offer on-site support?

Yes, we do – as part of a premium package. We manage this with a network of trusted partners for clients outside of the Chicago area. We also offer as-need on-site support on an hourly basis if required. However, few of our clients opt for this service and few of them need it.

What really matters

You might be looking at paying a premium or selecting an IT services provider based of the availability of on-site support. After working with all the RIAs we’ve worked with, we’d encourage you to consider a few other things that are more important than on-site support when it comes to choosing a provider.

When you talk to the local IT provider, be sure to ask them these questions:

What do they offerRIA WorkSpaceLocal IT Provider
Do you offer onsite support?YY
Do you understand the unique IT needs of RIAs?Y?
Do you work with many other RIAs?Y?
Do you have experience with our unique IT compliance requirements?Y?
Can you configure our email archiving and journaling, so it is SEC compliant?Y?
Will you set up data loss prevention tools to protect our data and keep us compliant?Y?

IT support for RIAs is not the same as IT support for an average business of the same size. Any IT service provider you choose must understand that your need for IT security and compliance is more complicated and more critical than other businesses. Be sure your IT partner can accommodate your needs.