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Update From RIA Executive Director Terry Schalow

Published on | Terry Schalow | News & Updates

April 2024 is shaping up to be the most impactful month in the history of the RIA, as we simultaneously prepare to welcome our members to the RIA Summit and launch the RIA Product Data Collaborative.

If we attached a motto to what we’ve learned in the process to deliver both initiatives, I can’t think of anything more appropriate than “kaizen,” a Japanese word that basically means “continuous improvement.” ‘Kaizen’ is particularly relevant because it describes perfectly how most RIA projects tend to evolve. We start with an idea that we think will provide value to our membership. We ask questions, come up with a plan, we execute the plan, we get feedback afterward, and we work toward improvement.

The RIA Summit, for example, reflects a five-year-long learning curve to deliver the value our members expect when they make the commitment to join us for three days. This year is our most ambitious effort yet, with peer sharing, professional development workshops, top-to-top meetings, brand and associate presentations, and of course, the social stuff. It’s not easy to plan or – as we’re finding out – to schedule. But in the end we think our attendees will walk away with a ‘time well spent’ point of view. It is also worth mentioning that trade associations do not typically launch major software platforms. That is, until their members say, “We have a problem, and we think you can help us solve it.”

That was literally how the RIA Product Data Collection (PDC) was conceived, but it proved to be an incredibly complex task. We hit roadblocks, stumbled a bit, figured it out, then hit more roadblocks. It was frustrating at times, but we kept our sleeves rolled up and kept grinding away at it. Now, on the eve of the PDC launch, we will offer our members a functional tool in the short term, that has transformative potential as we work to improve it. How? By significantly reducing workloads for our members, and at the same time, providing universal access to the same data sets across multiple third-party platforms. The result is greater productivity in product data management, and a much higher level of transactional efficiency across multiple third-party platforms. So it’s not all about making product data easier to collect and manage. It’s also about making it easier to do business with our partners, and making the run specialty channel more competitive in the marketplace. So, as we head into the weeks and months ahead, we hope you’ll keep this in mind: We may not always nail it perfectly right out of the gate, but we’ll keep plugging away in the spirit of kaizen. Thanks for being a part of this journey, and we appreciate your support.

If you wish to contact me directly, please reach out at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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