Reputation death, Pt. 5: The perils of technophobia

By Steven McCarty

The National Ethics Association


When early humans discovered fire, some may have reacted with horror. Why did it produce such tear-inducing smoke? Why did it hurt to touch it? And why were its shadows so scary? But even our most change-resistant ancestors eventually accepted the benefits of having heat, light and warm food.

Fast forward to modern times and human beings are still resisting change. This is especially true in our industry, where advisors have sometimes been slow to embrace the personal computer, the World Wide Web, Web 2.0 and mobile devices, among other developments. These advances have spawned unimagined possibilities — writing annuities without touching a paper application, for example, or doing business from a Bahamas beach house. But even today, some advisors don’t get how technology can warm their prospects.

Are they just lazy? Perhaps. But some may have a more serious problem — technophobia. This is defined as an abnormally strong fear or dislike of advanced technology or complex devices.

We’ve all seen technophobic advisors. They need their assistants to run Microsoft Office. They don’t use a smart phone. They are slow to adopt the latest communications methods (content-rich websites, blogs and social networks). And perhaps most importantly, they resist paperless workflow. In short, technophobic advisors are betting their careers on the past — and blinding themselves to both today’s victories and tomorrow’s opportunities.

Advisors who resist technology have their reasons. But they’re not considering the impact on their reputations. Think about it. What does using old technology say about you to your prospects? That you’re behind the times? Afraid to learn new things? Different from your clients? This is hardly the way to attract people to your fire.

Protecting your reputation isn’t the only reason to embrace technology. Doing business ethically is another. Using the latest tools enables you to do the highest quality work for your clients and to keep your knowledge current.

So, if you recognize a bit of technophobia in yourself, here’s what to do:
  • View technology as a business partner. Technology lets you see more people, generate more proposals and close more cases. What’s not to like?
  • Get serious about paperless workflow. Yes, there’s a learning curve, but the benefits in terms of higher efficiency, fewer mistakes and enhanced suitability are too compelling to ignore.
  • Use technology to inspire your clients. Have you seen the TED.com talks (Technology, Education and Design)? On your website, blog and Facebook page, do what TED speakers do. Share innovative ideas. Inspire action. And prove to the world you’re a leader.
  • Tap into the “wisdom of the crowd.” If you’re still technophobic, reach out to savvy peers on industry Web forums, such as ProducersWeb.com. They’ll show you how to light your own fire.