Most registered investment advisors (RIAs) and financial advisory firms look for outside suppliers for their IT support. By outsourcing their IT needs to the right managed IT services provider (MSP), they do not only get access to technologies that help them work better and more securely, but they also have more opportunities to grow their practices.
However, using managed IT services doesn’t come without risk, especially when your RIA firm opts for the wrong MSP. But when you do find the right partner who understands the unique needs of their industry, IT becomes an asset instead of a liability.
Here are five reasons RIAs don’t stick with their MSP — and five reasons they do — to help you decide whether to leave or stay with your current one.
Why RIAs leave their MSP
MSPs often lose RIA and financial advisory clients because of the following:
1. Poor understanding of an RIA firm’s specific needs
Companies want an IT partner that is able to provide the right solutions to their unique challenges and goals, not just a blanket service that will work for any type of company. This is especially important for RIA firms that aren’t just ordinary local businesses. For instance, security is exponentially more important to RIAs or financial advisors like you because of the nature of the data and information you manage. A cookie-cutter IT setup won’t be enough to meet the strict security and compliance standards associated with the finance industry.
If your firm’s MSP doesn’t provide compliance-level security, it can lead to fines and penalties at best — or client data being compromised at worst.
Use this checklist to ensure you’re accounting for privacy concerns, compliance issues, and the policies and procedures critical to maintaining a secure RIA and a culture of cybersecurity.
RIA Cybersecurity Essentials Checklist
2. Slow response times
MSPs are run by humans, not machines, so some delayed response times are inevitable. However, if you notice that your MSP is always slow to respond to new requests or issues, this could convince you to seek out a company with more responsive service. This also plays into the idea of being able to communicate effectively — trying to work with someone who’s consistently late to respond is a headache that no RIA firm should have to deal with.
3. Ambiguous service offerings and costs
Some MSPs offer “all-inclusive” packages but fail to disclose the details of what exactly is included. This can lead to problems down the line, especially if you are forced to pay for services that you didn’t know would pop up on your bill.
On the other hand, other MSPs try to charge clients flat-rate fees that don’t accurately account for all of the tasks being completed. For instance, if you hire an MSP to manage your IT and implement backup for all of your devices, but the initial estimation neglects to include the time required for any troubleshooting that may be needed, then this could make it difficult for you to set a monthly IT budget.
That’s why MSPs should include all of the IT services and features that your firm will receive within a certain price point. They should also outline each service so that there aren’t any misunderstandings.
4. Poor service
You may become dissatisfied with your MSP because of poor service. Maybe it’s because you experience long downtimes, slow networks, or any number of challenges that your MSP fails to address in a timely manner. Maybe stuff seems to break down more and more often, or issues keep cropping up even though your MSP has supposedly fixed them. Or maybe your MSP takes too long to respond to requests and you always have to ask for updates.
In any case, your RIA firm can’t afford to wait around for hours or days on end for a simple fix, and you shouldn’t have to accept subpar service just because your IT needs are unique.
5. Reactive support
Fixing issues only when they arise isn’t as efficient as preventing them from happening in the first place. An MSP shouldn’t wait until you are experiencing a problem in order to fix it, because this typically entails downtime during work hours. Your RIAs should be able to go back to using your IT systems once the problem has been resolved, instead of worrying about it while they’re busy dealing with clients and handling data.
Why RIAs stay with their MSP
On the other hand, here are some reasons why RIAs stick with their MSP for the long haul:
1. Clear understanding of an RIA firm’s needs
Great MSPs understand their clients’ tech needs, taking the time to ask questions and learn what’s most important in order to provide the perfect solution or strategy. This means identifying what challenges your RIA firm faces, how these affect your business, and what kind of services and support you need in order to overcome these obstacles. They also understand what apps and systems you use and how best to keep them up and running.
2. Comprehensive solutions
Good MSPs look at the bigger picture and don’t just provide basic IT services and call it a day. Instead, they take things one step further and offer RIA and financial advisory firms like yours comprehensive solutions that will grow your business. This includes ongoing strategic planning to ensure you are making the most of your IT and staying up to date on technologies that will help you now and in the future.
3. A problem-free environment
The best MSP makes sure that you no longer have to worry about the performance of your IT systems. They will build a solid infrastructure that can withstand any kind of stress placed on it, as well as offer responsive support that keeps your RIAs from feeling as though they’re putting out fires all day long.
Reliable MSPs create a problem-free IT environment by providing you with a consistent way to track and prioritize support tickets so you know your concerns aren’t overlooked and will be dealt with as soon as possible.
4. Proactive support
Rather than waiting for problems to arise, effective MSPs proactively monitor networks to detect problems before they have a chance to cause downtime. This typically leads to faster issue resolutions and less frustration, which are what you’d want from your IT provider.
5. A consistent team
You don’t want to deal with new faces every single time you call your MSP. You want the people you work closely with to be familiar with your practice, so you can count on them to be there when issues arise. This is why some MSPs offer dedicated teams and long-term relationships. For instance, RIA WorkSpace assigns each client a three-person team that they will consistently work with.