Our From the Desk of the COO series features stories, strategies and solutions from GeoWealth’s Chief Operating Officer, Jack Hannah. This ongoing series will provide insights for those working in, or heading up, back and middle offices. Enjoy these views from our resident Operations Guru, Jack!
My Pathway to COO and What I Learned Along the Way
Jack, how did you come to be the Chief Operating Officer of GeoWealth, and what did you learn along the way?
The early days... Let me start by saying I don’t think I have a crazy unique story. I’ve worked most of my career in RIA firms. I had the pleasure of starting in the industry in 2008, during a really fun time for everyone (😉), on the bottom rung of the ladder at an RIA in Kansas City. That’s where I met Colin Falls, now President of GeoWealth...
Top 4 Operational Bottlenecks at RIA Firms
Jack, what are the operational challenges you see keeping RIA firms from scaling and growing?
In my role as COO at GeoWealth, I’ve had the opportunity to analyze and consult with countless RIAs about the systems and processes at work inside of their firms. It is with that lens, that I've compiled this list of the top four operational challenges I often see getting in the way of scale and growth for advisory firms of any size...
Operational Risk Factors Creating Liabilities for RIAs
Jack, what are the greatest operational risk factors facing RIA firms?
In my time both working at an RIA firm and serving them from my current seat as COO at GeoWealth, I’ve seen several factors cause more costly liabilities than any other process breakdown or business misstep. Let's run through the list...First up we have trade errors.
The Evolution of RIA Operations
Jack, what are the biggest changes you’ve seen in RIA operations over the years?
Picture this: It’s 2008. I’m at my desk in the server room, right next to the massive computer our RIA is using to run PortfolioCenter. For the uninitiated, PortfolioCenter is a desktop-based software that’s been around since I was in middle school...
In-house vs. Outsourced Middle Office Operations
Jack, when is it time for RIAs to consider leveraging an outsourced trading partner?
Over the course of my career, I’ve seen what feels like every single scenario imaginable for communicating trade instructions.
I’ve seen advisors send trade details through email and via spreadsheet. I’ve seen them walk trade instructions down the hall, written on a piece of paper and handed directly to the firm’s trader. I’ve seen them write trade instructions on a piece of paper and then take a picture of that piece of paper, and then email it to the middle office team.
The Power of Sleeving
Jack, how has UMA technology transformed RIA operations and the client experience?
Most of you probably remember the traditional method of managing separate accounts for the same household. Every investment strategy or model existed as a separate account, with its own set of securities. Whether it was a home office model, a large cap value strategy, or a professionally managed account (the list goes on) for the same household, each required a separate account number, separate statements, separate 1099 reports, creating obvious and significant burdens for both clients and advisors.
4 Time-Wasting Mistakes That Limit Your Firm's Growth
ThinkAdvisor shared Jack's operations-centric advice to advisors looking to grow their practice.
The financial advice industry is a highly competitive and complex landscape. Achieving sustainable growth, while challenging, is crucial for long-term success and the growth of a practice.
A Schwab study highlighted that 75% of advisors polled reported that growth made their operations more complex — but if they could automate or streamline time-consuming activities, they would utilize the newfound time to boost growth by spending more time with clients (69% said this), prospecting for new clients (62%) and offering more services (33%).