Most advisers tend to run the other way when it comes to technology, but there are some basic things that every adviser, as the manager of their firm, should know. I have been working with a firm for the last week, trying to re-engineer their technology. It started with a simple malware virus on a computer, and it quickly developed into taking a complete inventory of software, hardware, servers, etc. It turns out the virus protection that was purchased was not working and when we tried to access the virus protection, well, no one had the ID and password. Except for the tech person, that is, who had left a while ago.
One trend I have noticed in tech persons is that they are not very good at keeping documentation. From a compliance perspective you should have good documentation as part of your contingency planning. I do not think you need to know how to install a network, but you need to have all the necessary items in place so someone else can do the work. If you are running a server, you should have:
- All the names, IDs and passwords to access the server as an administrator.
- A list of all the software you are running, including certificate license codes. Items should include the following:
- Software name
- License code
- Assigned to: Name
- Expiration date
- Duplicate copies of all the software you are running.
- A list of all vendors with admin IDs and passwords.
- Website: you should be the administrator for registering your website name. I had a client lose their website name because their tech person left and the name expired without anyone paying for it. You should be the point of contact for all sensitive tech items.
Reviewing all your licenses every six months is a good idea, as many software makers are constantly checking to make sure the copy you are running is “legal.” Additionally, you want to ensure you have the latest ID and passwords to log in as administrator. This is especially true when your tech person is quitting. Lastly, keeping this information in a secure and fireproof area is critical.
Ash Bhatnagar, CFP®
RIA Independence Co.