If a goal without a plan is just a wish, then many RIA’s goals for technological implementation are merely wishful thinking.

Those were some of the words of advice from a panel of advisors at the TD Ameritrade’s National LINC conference. They stressed that without a clear plan for how new financial technology will be implemented, advisors may be wasting their technology budgets.

“We created a committee several years ago to help guide us through the process of what we wanted to implement, when, and why,” said Heather Fortner, chief operating officer and chief compliance officer at Atlanta-based Signature FD.

Signature FD, which manages around $2.5 billion in assets, uses client relationship management (CRM) software like SalesForce, Orion’s integration platform and TD Ameritrade’s iRebal for trading.

At Phoenix-based Dynamic Wealth Advisors, an RIA and practice development firm partnering with 35 advisors nationwide, CEO Jim Cannon said that technological strategic plans should be focused on the short term.

“We started a roadmap for technology three years ago,” Cannon said. “Based on the fact that technology moves quickly, having a 12- to 18-month plan was the way to go.”

The panel’s moderator, Technology Tools for Today publisher Joel Bruckenstein, said that advisors are reporting that CRM and financial planning software are producing the greatest return on investment.The panelists agreed, all pointing to CRM largely driven by SalesForce as their most important technological investment.

“The advisors who work with us are now more planning focused than investment management focused,” said Cannon. “By doing so, they’re more successful in retaining clients, and client satisfaction is higher. Having a tightly-integrated technological solution is more important to the end user and for the client experience.”

Dynamic’s advisors use a custom-built version of SalesForce and the integration platform Orion to cover portfolio management, e-mail and documentation needs.

At Minneapolis-headquartered Nepsis Capital Management, a retirement advisor, asset manager and practice management firm, Mark Pearson said his advisors use SalesForce extensively for marketing.