Family Office Technology Series: How Technology Can Improve Your Family Office Operations
May 05, 2022
By Dimple Rawtani and Karina Joyner
Business applications and emerging technologies can help family offices transform the way they perform their daily activities. In the first installment of EisnerAmper’s Family Office Technology Series, “How Technology Can Improve Your Family Office Operations,” our speakers focused on several types of technologies currently used by organizations and how integrating them can lead to improved efficiencies and new business opportunities. Discussion included best practices for successful technology implementation, challenges along the way, and how to achieve user acceptance of business and digital transformation initiatives.
- Jason Juliano, director of digital transformation, EisnerAmper Digital
- Laura Macca, director of business transformation within the Enterprise Technology and Information Group (ETI), EisnerAmper
Over the past two years, digital evolution has increased faster than we had seen over the previous ten years. One of the driving factors for the push to adopt more technology within family offices has been the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the pandemic began, there has been an increased need for remote collaboration and the ability to access data and software from any location. As a result, the pressure on organizations to keep a flexible work environment is crucial. A recent poll noted that approximately 70% of workers in the United States have indicated that they would resign from their current position if they were asked to return to working in the office full-time. One key advantage of a remote working environment is that it allows organizations to hire promising candidates from any location.
However, while technology is becoming more readily available within family offices, cyberattacks are a critical concern and have already affected about 25% of family offices. One of the biggest challenges organizations will face in 2022 will be enabling an adequate cybersecurity program to protect against cyber threats.
Acceleration in emerging technology has caused these digital trends within the workforce:
- Process optimization and intelligent automation
- Remote work from anywhere
- New software as a service (SaaS-Cloud) business applications
- Data insights, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML)
One of the key tools available when enhancing the use of technology in response to these trends is robotics process automation (RPA). RPA automates repetitive tedious tasks that humans normally do. Some examples of repetitive tasks include copying data from one application to another, posting journals, and performing monthly reconciliations. Organizations that have implemented RPA have eliminated over 70% of manual activities. Family offices can implement RPA to eliminate manual tasks related to the following processes:
- Investment accounting
- Account reconciliations
- Financial close
- Bill payments
- Invoice processing
- Recording sales tax
- Gathering partnership tax information for populating individual tax forms
Family office digital transformation offers the opportunity to use AI for time-consuming processes. Before implementing AI in the family office, it is necessary to understand where the firm anticipates being in the future, why the leadership team and the board needs to be involved, and what to look for in a service provider.
By leveraging both AI and ML with cloud-based accounting software, the manual effort of work activities like accounts payable and accounts receivable can be reduced. For example, if AI and ML algorithms are integrated within the accounts payable process, the application can read the invoice, extract the data, encode the invoice to the correct general ledger account, approve the process, and make payment. Getting the right information as quickly and accurately as possible can help make better decisions.
These same features that accelerate the closing process also enable real-time reporting and data queries. Data is updated in real time, giving decision makers 24/7 access to reliable, up-to-date information and reports. With this information available daily, family office managers can easily track trends and take action to improve results as needed, rather than waiting for reports at the end of the month. As the financial system becomes smarter, it will be possible to make practical recommendations based on data.
Change can be difficult, and technology can move very quickly. Some common challenges that organizations have encountered when adopting technology include status quo versus culture of change, lack of understanding, the necessary time and resources, investment versus cost debate, and stakeholder involvement. When incorporating technology, it is crucial to collaborate with your partners, leverage your network, and engage with key stakeholders. It is also important to have a process in place that is used to continuously monitor your operations, and that you are constantly innovating your procedures and technology to be more efficient.
To view the webcast, click here.