Expertise

Take 5, A Conversation with Adrian Johnstone, President and Co-Founder of Practifi

Addepar

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For over 20 years, Adrian Johnstone has worked with advice businesses of all sizes to leverage technology for growth. As a fintech thought leader, Adrian offers deep insight into the technology needs of advisors. He believes that technology firms should be partners, not just providers and that seamlessly integrated platforms are the future of our industry. That’s why in 2014, Adrian took his expertise and co-founded Practifi, a business management platform built for wealth advisors, broker-dealers and RIAs. Adrian is responsible for the vision of Practifi, their partner ecosystem and go-to market strategy. 

We sat down with Adrian to learn more about evolving fintech needs of the wealth management industry. 

Tell us a little about your company and how you partner with Addepar…

Practifi is an enterprise-grade business management platform designed for high-performing advice firms. Our product suite helps wealth managers and advisory teams integrate systems and automates processes while maximizing revenue, boosting growth, and strengthening client relationships. Through our partnership with Addepar, we offer wealth managers an integrated experience that unifies client data in a holistic view — saving team members time and equipping them with the information they need to deliver an excellent client experience. 

What are some of the biggest challenges for advisors in the CRM space?

Siloed data. When platforms aren’t built to speak to one another, important data becomes isolated. As a result, these disconnected systems prevent firms from fully leveraging client data across all lines of business. Without seamless integrations for complete data visibility from your CRM, business efficiency stalls, firms struggle to scale and client relationships suffer. Client expectations are driven by the technology they interact with every day, so when the experience they have with their advisor is sub-par because of a limited CRM supporting the business, it reflects negatively on the client-advisor relationship. Put bluntly, a disconnected CRM drives a lackluster client experience and that has potentially dire consequences for any firm. 

How have you seen CRMs evolve since founding Practifi?

If we look at the CRM category in general, I think it’s safe to say that it’s only gotten more crowded. However, if we focus on just the CRM space for financial services, I’d say the biggest advancements have been made in the migration to cloud-based platforms and in the quantity and quality of integrations, but there’s still much to do. Simply put, advisors need more from their CRM. They need better data connectivity, more mobility and flexibility, increased security, and a platform that adapts to the ever changing and growing compliance regulations. Technology’s rapid growth is also evolving the financial landscape. Different assets have different tools, or new tools, with more custodian options, and CRMs need to be equipped with these integrations. For advisors to excel, they require personalized dashboards aggregating relevant data in a quick digestible way.  

Given the quickly shifting market landscape and evolution to how we live and work over the last year, what are your observations and reactions to what that means for your company?

The pandemic altered how technology and companies operated seemingly overnight. I think the silver lining here is that it accelerated digital advancement within an industry that has been notoriously slow in adopting new tools and technology. The last year changed how we approach work, and I believe that hybrid and/or dispersed workforces are here to stay. For us as a cloud tool company, we were able to adapt and mobilize quickly. We even experienced an uptick in record keeping to our system, with more updates and written communication than ever before. No one was tapping anyone on the shoulder anymore, so they grew more dependent on our platform to communicate with each other and with clients. The advisor and client relationship is forever changed, in most ways for the better, and now wealth firms and their CRMs alike, need to ensure our businesses continue evolving to keep pace. 

How do you see fintech evolving in the next 3-5 years?

Over the next 3-5 years, I think fintech will evolve its capabilities to support hyper-personalization at scale. We need even better, more connected, centralized data so firms can deliver more personalized experiences. To achieve this, I see fintech leveraging business intelligence (BI) power and continuing to experiment with the potential for artificial intelligence (AI) to drive hyper-personalization as needed. For Practifi, a cornerstone to the advisor and client relationship, this couldn’t be more exciting. Through our partnership with Addepar and others, we capture an ever-increasing array of data points and by combining this information with new enterprise-ready technology, we’ll continue to dramatically improve the client experience.