How the COVID Crisis has Changed Technology for RIAs

The COVID pandemic has sparked a sharp increase in remote work, spiking a trend which was already well established. Prior to the pandemic, surveys indicated about 15% of the U.S. workforce was working remotely, a growth of some 50% since 2005. In 2016 the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics produced a report showing that 38% of employees in the management, financial operations, business and other related professions performed at least some of their work from home. The number  of full-time home workers more than doubled in the wake of the COVID crisis. 

COVID and Cloud Computing

A remote workforce adds a number of complications to a company’s management, teamwork and technological demands. But remote work has also been shown to provide more worker and family flexibility which can help meet such demands as having homeschooled children on hand. It’s also been cited for improving productivity, worker satisfaction and its green effect of reducing pollution associated with daily commuting. 

The Rockefeller Institute of Government, the public policy research arm of the State University of New York, has predicted that this surge in remote work will not be just a temporary phenomenon. One of the main stress points is the technological needs to support these remote workers. For some businesses this can mean shifting from desktop computing to laptops and adopting new collaborative and remote-friendly software. The Rockefeller Institute reports that federal and state governments are providing support for companies to help make these changes. In April of 2020 they wrote: “The $2 trillion relief bill that recently passed Congress includes low-interest loans available to small businesses to, among other things, upgrade infrastructure or make other investments. Maryland…recently announced businesses could tap a $7 million state fund to transition to remote work or make other upgrades to continue operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

So called “knowledge workers,” people who work in an office setting in front of computers, are the primary prospects for remote working. This puts the world of finance and financial management at the center of the trend. Three out of four finance businesses plan to make remote working permanent after the pandemic, according to a Gartner survey of 317 finance executives conducted in March of this year. Here at Blaze Portfolio we are well acquainted with many RIA shops which have included remote workers for years. We’ve experienced the transition to remote work ourselves over the past months, a reason we were absolutely comfortable adding a new key member to our team who is outside the Chicago area. And we know how RIAs can capitalize on cloud technology to leverage market volatility.

Data Protection and Security When RIAs Work Remotely

One of the challenges faced by a dispersed workforce is data management and security. Many RIA firms maintain their own servers which in turn contain significant client and portfolio information. Keeping this information updated, secure and backed up while being accessed from numerous locations can stress the resources of a small firm’s IT capabilities. Cloud-based computing relieves much of this stress and is also instantly scalable — there is no need to worry about server capacity or adding additional server hardware. Through its private cloud, Blaze Portfolio can deliver the security and reliability that our clients expect. A private cloud platform means our dedicated hardware is not shared across other companies. We can also optimize the hardware and infrastructure around our applications to deliver blazing speeds and stability.

As Brightline IT, a Michigan based technology company, informs their clients, “cloud integration is especially important for a remote office. And it’s more than just cloud storage as some often think.” As summarized in an April, 2020 Wall Street Journal story, “The pivot to working from home highlights the benefits of cloud-based services that can quickly scale up defenses around decentralized employees.” 

One of the first and primary advantages of cloud computing is that it eliminates the need to install and upgrade software on individual computers. For a cloud-based software like Blaze, all you need is an internet connection and a browser.    

The  COVID crisis has tested the financial advice profession in its ability to adjust to flexible work arrangements. A vital part of this transition has been the adaptability of the software tools which support remote access. As one of the premiere cloud-based trading and rebalancing providers, Blaze Portfolio has been proud to be part of the solution to this unexpected demand in our profession. 

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