A word with Salit Nagy-Todd, senior vice president of technology
Committed to breaking new ground and keeping financial advisors at the forefront of innovation, Salit Nagy-Todd is responsible for strategic planning in support of Raymond James’ financial advisor technology platform. Learn about her path into fintech and her approach to designing technology from the mind of the advisor.
Tell us about how you got started in financial services.
My journey began over 20 years ago when I was recruited for a position at Raymond James during a career fair. It was in the Customer Accounts department, and at the time I knew little about that department or the industry, but the hiring manager who interviewed me was so passionate when describing her work that I was hooked. I knew this was where I wanted to be. I quickly fell in love with this industry because of the people aspect – I truly believe what we do is help people. And in my current role, I’m helping advisors serve their clients through technology. That initial hiring experience showed me that being passionate about what you do – no matter the job – can have a huge impact on those around you. I joke that when I figure out what I want to do when I grow up, I will let you know. In the meantime, I have the best job ever. I’ve felt that throughout my entire career.
How did your previous roles within the firm help prepare you for your current role?
Before moving to IT, I started my career in Operations, where I was for many years. The operational side of the business is where I learned the ins and outs of our industry. It positioned me well for my role within technology, which is representing advisors and their needs. I learned that what we do every day – in every aspect, even when often not seen – impacts advisors and their clients. I have carried that lesson with me. My goal is to take all the experiences I learned in Operations and apply them to what we are building in technology, so at the end of the day we have tools that are creative, effective and keep advisors’ needs at the center of it all.
The firm talks a lot about developing technology from the perspective of an advisor. Why is that important?
What’s great about the way we develop technology here at the firm is the importance we place on independence – one of our core values. We encourage innovation, but aren’t chasing the hottest new technology or enhancing our applications just because that’s what everyone else is doing. Instead, we always begin with, “How is this going to help advisors and their clients?” We pride ourselves on being a technology organization that listens to advisors and delivers tools that are easy to use, support business growth and meet the evolving needs of clients. The only way to do that is by being intimately familiar with advisors, their teams and their businesses. Our role in technology is to advocate for the advisor, to understand their wants and needs, and to recognize that they are each unique business owners. Our key to success, and what we continue to hear that differentiates Raymond James, is the dedication we put into listening to our advisors.
How do you know when you’ve gotten it right?
When advisors come back and say, “This tool is great – it’s as if you are in my brain,” it doesn’t get better than that. Working in a technology organization within financial services puts us in a unique position, because we understand that we are not building tools for ourselves. Sometimes the things that we think are cool are not necessarily the things that our advisors need. Instead, what we aim for are tools that make advisors’ lives easier. Sometimes we knock it out of the park and sometimes we need to go back to the drawing board based on advisor feedback to get it right. But we always do our homework before we engage advisors, and when they give us feedback, we listen and deliver.
What’s one technology that has been a big win for advisors this past year?
Advisor Mobile is one tool that has been a game changer for many advisors, especially given the pandemic with so many teams working away from the office. Advisor Mobile gives advisors instant mobile access to client and account information that a lot of other firms don’t offer. What’s even better, we recently added a compliant texting feature to Advisor Mobile that gives advisors the ability to text with clients, making it even easier to communicate and build a relationship.
How do you help advisors incorporate new technology tools into their practices?
First, by acknowledging that change is hard for everyone. Even when we know a new technology will introduce efficiencies and is just hands-down better than the old way of doing something, it still requires learning, adjusting and a time commitment. New technology has to be something advisors and clients are comfortable using. And we make sure not to point people to the tools and walk away. Just like when we build technology, our training and consulting approach begins with understanding our advisors and their unique businesses. Any technology tool can be fantastic, but if you don’t know how to incorporate it into your life, you won’t use it. That’s why consulting is part of our training model. We take time to understand our advisors’ businesses and processes in order to tailor how we train them to use our tools. It’s important from the onset that we understand how we can help an advisor incorporate a new tool so that at the end they say, “This is going to be phenomenal and it fits the way I do business. I know it’s going to be a change, but I can do it.”
Where are you devoting your attention and what are the technology team’s short-term goals?
With the robust suite of technology available at the firm, we are looking to enhance adoption, furthering integration across our platform and modernizing the tools that already exist. Many of the technology tools our advisors and their teams have come to rely on in their everyday business have been in production for a while now, some like Client Center for multiple years. We now have the opportunity to look across the ecosystem of our tools and strategically make them even better. One area we have been focusing on is data-driven decision-making through technology that can help enhance the advisor and client experience. We are also beginning to incorporate data science and AI in several systems to provide advisors with a holistic view of clients, relationships and investments while creating business efficiencies that will give them time back in their day. For instance, in the new Advisor Access menu, we will leverage information such as your pattern of usage and what similar users are doing, as well as the time of day and time of year, to surface suggestions to you that will cut down on navigation and provide a more efficient use of the menu. You can think of this new feature as a kind of silent virtual assistant that suggests an application you might be looking to use without being prompted – that kind of innovation is the future for us.