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Author Archives: George Svagera

George joined Orion in 2013 as a Western-focused Vice President of Business Development. George sits on the board of the local Mustaches for Kids charity, but ironically has a hard time growing a mustache himself.
How to Make the Most of Your Next Tech Demo

In my free time, I sit on the board of a charity that means a great deal to me. And after 12 years, we found ourselves in a situation I talk about with advisors every day: We have outgrown our current system and processes. At this critical point in our operation, we’re asking many of the same questions you are:

  • Do we have the right leadership in place?
  • Is our branding still relevant?
  • Do we need to hire more employees?

But most importantly, we’re evaluating whether it’s time to leave spreadsheets and our homemade system behind and move to a third-party technology.

To answer our last question, we needed to find and research major providers of peer-to-peer fundraising technology and start attending demonstrations.

Now that I’m on the receiving end of technology demos, I’ve noticed that giving demos myself day in and day out has made me very good at attending them. It’s also given me a brand new respect for advisors who are reviewing technology for their firms. It’s not easy to make time to evaluate tech while still fulfilling day-to-day responsibilities. So I wanted to share a few ways you can prepare for demos in order to make the most out of them.

Before the Demo

Make a List

Here’s what we know for sure: Outsourcing to a modern, third-party technology is going to be critical to the growth of our charity. It’s also going to be highly disruptive and take a lot of time and work to implement. Thinking ahead about what we’re looking for in a new technology helps cut through the noise that can be distracting and inefficient during demos.

Make a list of the functionalities and workflows you need, and separate it into categories. I suggest the following:

  • Absolutely Need
  • Nice to Have
  • Needs Improvement
  • Can Live Without
  • Not Necessary

As an aside, be cognizant of exactly what falls under “Not Necessary”. It’s possible that some features you don’t consider necessities could actually be beneficial tools that boost efficiency or enhance your value. Do yourself a favor and at least take a look at these items.

Make sure you’re prepared to share your list during the demo or, even better, send it ahead of time to the technology provider so they can tailor the demo environment and presentation to your firm. 

If the provider has an online profile, fill it out! Doing so will only make the hour you spend in the demo more beneficial.

Go to Their Website

Do your due diligence: review the feature information on your potential tech provider’s website. The company information and executive bios can wait. Go straight to the features information and compare what you find to your list. At minimum, they should check off all the “Absolutely Need” features you’ve selected. You should also look for tools you hadn’t previously considered, and add them to their respective segments on your list.

Visit the Integrations page to make sure the new technology works well with third-party tools you’re already using. Last, check the Resources page: Is their blog up to date? Do they offer free webinars and release notes? You don’t have to comb through it all with a magnifying glass, but review it at a high level to see if the content inspires you.

By the way, I know what you’re thinking: “How obvious, he’s referencing the Orion website.” Nope. The tech I’ve been evaluating can be found at Their website does a great job hitting on all the points above.

Demo Day 

Beginning of Demo

Be prepared to talk about your firm and your needs. A good demonstrator should ask for this up front, but most don’t, so take the time to tell them. If not, it’s likely they’ll make assumptions about your firm, and the demo will not be as effective as it could have been. 

Take the first few minutes to explain your firm, its structure, the types of clients you work with, and the functionality you expect to see.

Tech demos help you make critical decisions for your business — so come prepared to make the most of them. Share on XFinally, avoid vague requests. The one I hear most often is, “I want to see reporting.” Well, what does “reporting” mean to you? Are you referring to client reporting, operational reporting, compliance reporting, business intelligence, or something else entirely? Being specific will ensure you see the functionality that’s critical for running your unique business. 

During the Demo

Please talk!  

Trust me as someone who gives demonstrations all day: If I am the only one talking, it makes for a very boring demo. If I’m getting sick of hearing my own voice, you SURELY are! 

So when you see or hear something of interest, ask to see it in greater detail. Think of a critical workflow or two: Think through each step, explain it, and have them show it. Make sure they show it!  I cannot stress this enough. It’s easy to say ,“Yes, we can do that,” and maybe they can. But what you’re not seeing is the 347 steps it takes within the system. Make sure you see and understand how the platform works, not just looks. If you’re still unsure if the system can handle specific functionality, ask how other users do it and if you can speak with them.

It’s important to be extremely open to change, especially if you built your own system. The third-party system you’re evaluating wasn’t built for your firm specifically, so think about those items you marked as “Nice to Have” or “Can Live Without” and envision how some of your workflows would work in the new system. The process may be different, but that doesn’t make it wrong. 

In most cases, these demos will give you an opportunity to consider approaching your workflows in ways you’ve never thought about before. Take advantage of this — seriously. Be open to change and adopting new best practices.

Beyond the First Demo

Don’t worry about getting through everything on your list during the first demo; in fact, this should really just be an overview.

Be prepared to schedule at least two more calls to allow you to dive deeper into critical functionality. Ideally, users from your firm who will be performing the tasks in question will be present on these calls. 

You may be faced with concerns from your team members that the technology you’re evaluating will actually be replacing them. Remember, it’s likely you’re making this change to scale your firm, meaning there’s opportunity for everyone to master the new technology and free up the capacity to grow. 

One of the best suggestions I’ve ever heard for vetting a new system? Talk to other tech providers who integrate with them. If it’s easy for third parties to work with them, chances are it will be easy for you, as well.  

Finally, follow up with the technologies you didn’t choose and let them know why. This feedback is extremely important — and not just to them. Given the pace at which technology companies evolve, many use this feedback to improve their offerings, which could benefit you one day.  (This is also just downright polite. Don’t be rude.) 

These decisions are important. This change is going to completely redefine how we run our charity; the same thing goes for your business. It’s critical to put in the necessary time to prepare for and attend demonstrations. The decision you make for your company now will directly affect what your company becomes. 

Ready to put your new demo skills to the test? Contact us today for a closer look at the Orion features that make your “Absolutely Need” list. 



Know What You’re Getting Before Your Technology Conversion

Converting from one technology system to another is one of the biggest and most important decisions your advisory firm can make.

Your choice of technology to support your firm’s initiatives can affect your operational efficiency, growth plans, employee morale, and even the security of client accounts.

When looking to make a move, most advisor tech firms will offer to convert data from your previous system. Some will only offer to convert your performance data or a more rare—but also more advanced conversion—might involve converting full asset and transaction information as well. So, how do you make sure you find a partner and conversion process that best fits your need?

In this post, we’ll cover the differences between both transactional and performance conversions and what to expect before your implementation begins.

Types of Portfolio Management Technology Conversions

While most portfolio management platforms may offer to convert your data, not all conversions are built the same. To start, some vendors may only convert performance data and not touch your transactional information. Here are the basics of each process to level set your understanding:

Transactional Conversion
Your tech provider converts and reconciles each individual transaction that ever occurred in your previous legacy system. Once your transactions are imported and reconciled, you can run performance reports for any time period and any portfolio grouping (e.g. household, accounts in the same model, asset class, position, etc) on an ad-hoc basis.  

Performance Conversion
Your tech provider will load your transaction information but those transactions will not be used to calculate performance on the fly. Instead, your new partner will load the performance intervals, typically monthly, saved in your legacy system so the system can display them on reports for specific intervals, such as month-end reporting.  This method only allows for household and account level month end performance. You lose the ability for additional groupings and “point to point” custom date ranges.

Beyond the basics, here is a side by side comparison of how each conversion process accounts for reporting and oversight activities:

Performance Reporting Transactional Conversion Performance Conversion
Household Performance Yes Yes*
Account Performance Yes Yes*
Security Performance Yes No
Asset Category Performance Yes No
Asset Class Perfomance Yes No
Sector Performance Yes No
Performance by Management Style or Strategy Yes No
On-Demand Point to Point Performance Yes No
BOD or EOD Cash Flow Impact EOD or BOD BOD
Toggle  between IRR, TWR, and/or Simple Performance returns Yes No
Activity Reporting Transactional Conversion Performance Conversion
Initial Value Yes Yes*
Contributions Yes Yes*
Distributions Yes Yes*
Transfer Ins/Outs Yes No
Dividends & Interest Yes No
Bond Accrual Yes No
Activity Reporting Yes No
Market Value Increase Yes No
Compliance and Oversight Transactional Conversion Performance Conversion
Performance Daily Monthly
Historic Trade Blotter Yes No
Historic Transaction Data Mining Yes No

Keep in mind that the quality of your data conversion largely depends on the quality of the data you’ve kept. If you don’t have good records or you’re working with limited transaction types, a full transactional conversion may not be able to rectify years’ worth of data inconsistency. 

Aside from the type of conversion you choose, you also need to choose a vendor based on the support they offer around your implementation.

Support Your Technology Vendor Should Offer

Beyond the data conversion process itself, a true tech partner who is there to support your evolving needs should also offer  hands-on training, consultative support, and a direct-line to subject matter experts who can answer your questions about your data quality and timing of the conversion. If a vendor you’re looking at doesn’t offer these things, it’s a red flag right away.

Here at Orion, we offer our advisors and firms support during conversion by:

  • Introducing You to a Dedicated Onboarding Manager
    Each new advisory firm receives a dedicated Onboarding manager to guide them throughout their entire onboarding  process. This Onboarding manager runs regular meetings and sets goals, timelines, and keeps the project on task and on time.
  • Leveraging Experienced Historical Data Analysts
    Orion’s accounting analysts analyze and reconcile your data as it’s moved to our platform. With a few decades’ worth of combined experience, our analysts have seen almost every type of data from every type of system, so we’re able to give you unique insights into what we see when we examine the data you’re bringing over.
  • Putting You in Direct Contact with Our Subject Matter Experts
    Orion’s service-level support is bolstered by Subject Matter Experts(SMEs). Our SME teams are involved with every new firm and offer detailed insights, personal answers, and unique training support.
  • Assigning You with a First-Year Advocate
    In addition to the project manager each new firm works with during a conversion, new firms are also assigned a First-Year Advocate. This independent observer within Orion ensures that your firm’s voice is heard and helps to keep the implementation team on track with their goals.
  • Offering On-Demand Online Training
    In addition to the hands-on training new firms receive from the conversion and SME teams, all advisory firms can also access on-demand online training through the Orion Ascent e-learning platform. The system offers guided walkthroughs, videos, quizzes, and much more to create Orion experts out of every firm.

Curious If Orion Can Convert Transactional Data From Your System?

The transactional data in most systems or custodians can be converted into Orion, and this service is no additional cost to new advisors.  If you would like to learn more about your options with converting your data and providing a better experience for you clients please click here to get in touch with our team today.

* Limited to month end intervals only, not point to point


5 Tips for Breakaways Evaluating the Advisor Tech Landscape

Whether you’re still making the decision to breakaway or you’ve recently taken a leap of faith to go independent, you’re in for an exciting journey ahead!

Building your own business can be reinvigorating, rewarding and fun. But at times, it can also feel overwhelming.

Here at Orion, we have the privilege of working with 100+ clients who have left their wirehouse firms or independent broker-dealers to gain more flexibility and control in their careers. Over the years, we’ve heard first-hand about the challenges new independent advisors face, and we know that in order to get your business off the ground quickly, you have to make the right decision the first time around.

As a breakaway advisor, one of the biggest decisions you’re likely facing is evaluating and choosing the best advisor technology to suit your needs. You may find yourself asking:

  • With so many offerings to choose from where do I begin?
  • What features and functions do I really need?
  • How will I effectively implement this new technology?
  • Is it possible to find a true partner to support my business?

It’s great that you’re thinking ahead and asking the right questions, yet choosing your advisor tech doesn’t have to be difficult—and you don’t have to do it alone.

Here are a few tips to help you get started:

1. Determine What Support You Need to Run Your Business

When deciding what technology your firm needs to be successful, you’ll need to begin by identifying your core business principles, then build your technology around what you want to do well. At minimum, make sure you have support for your most critical functions such as:

  • Portfolio accounting
  • CRM
  • Financial Planning
  • Trading
  • Billing
  • Risk and Portfolio Analytics

You’ll also likely have the choice between a bundled or best-of-breed solution.  Don’t settle for bundle deals packed with features that don’t make sense for your business models. Accept nothing less than custom-built, open API solutions that save time and let you stand out from the pack to serve a best-in-class experience that meets your clients’ specific needs.

2. Make the Most of Your Demo

It goes without saying that you should take part in a demo(s) for any technology your evaluating. Yet, during your discussion, don’t just focus on the product—think about process. Ask questions and gain insight on how you can use this tool day-to-day, to support your quarterly processes or even you less frequent SEC and state audit procedures.

While colorful reports and easy-to-use client facing tools are important, don’t lose sight of the critical, ongoing functions you’ll need to keep your business running efficiently.

3. Think About Your Plan for Getting Started

Part of your decision-making process should take into account how you will onboard and implement your new technology. We know you have a lot going on, but the setup of your technology, transferring any accounts and connecting to your custodian is critical.

Ideally, the solutions on your list will have training resources and implementation services to help make getting started easy. You’ll also want to make the time to stay engaged and responsive throughout the entire process in order to make the transition efficient.

4. Plan for the Future

I always tell advisors choosing a portfolio accounting solution for their firm to not think about just your needs for today but think about your needs in the future. As your business grows and evolves, you’ll want a technology that can adapt with you. It can be very disruptive to change your tools just as you’re starting to hit your stride.

5. Be Informed About Your Tech Partner’s Stance on Innovation

Like your business, your technology should not be stagnant or failing to address your firm’s changing needs. The technology solutions you select will become your partners in business.

Make sure they support you fully through a culture that prioritizes customization, tirelessly pursues innovation and, above all, ensures you have the resources you need to master efficiency and scale, saving you time and rewarding your efforts with flexibility and freedom.

 6. Bonus Tip: Consider Orion!

At Orion, we believe in giving advisors access to integrated independence by providing the best portfolio accounting software in the industry, coupled with the ability to connect it to almost any other advisor technology provider available.

Orion’s technology can help you:

  • Get your settings correct from the start so your assets and accounts can be billed accurately
  • Differentiate yourself by customizing the look and feel of your client reporting and communications
  • Tackle even the most unique trading requirements with our integrated and fully customizable trading and rebalancing system
  • Leverage integrations with our 70+ leading technology partners
  • And more!

A lot goes into breaking away but evaluating and selecting your technology stack shouldn’t be hard! Contact Orion today to schedule a demo of our platform and discuss how we can partner to support your journey to independence.