Originally written by Kelly O’Mara for RIABiz

One night in February 2011, David Benskin sat in his Merrill Lynch office in Nashville surrounded by boxes filled with records, Photostats, notes from client conversations, financial plans and screenshots.

Overwhelmed by the prospect of sorting out his clients’ financial lives in the most non-digital way imaginable, Benskin executed a classic tech RIA maneuver:

“Basically, I built 50 spreadsheets.”

It wasn’t that Merrill didn’t have the top technology available. It did. But the tools that would enable clients to easily see their assets and communicate with their advisors just didn’t exist. Even with all the resources of Merrill at his fingertips, Benskin, who was a partner in one of Merrill’s private banking investment groups with about 50 families as clients, kept noticing problems in communicating and engaging with clients.

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