Cloud accounting – why buy now?

Cloud computing, sometimes known as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), is well established. The operational expenditure versus the capital expenditure advantages are well understood and accepted, as are the benefits of scalability, on-demand capacity and the removal of infrastructure and hefty upgrade costs. Even the terminology, once part of the exclusive language of IT professionals, is now part of everyday business-speak, and even trickling into consumer vernacular via advertising and marketing campaigns.

Despite the mass awareness of the utility of cloud computing, the world of wealth and investment management has been slow to adopt the cloud, with many organizations still running on, and even implementing, traditional on-premises software applications.

Recent industry news has highlighted several very high-profile project failures, many of these in wealth and investment management. In the clear majority of cases, inflexible and outdated legacy technology was to blame. Even where projects have succeeded, the timescales are often shocking, with implementations lasting several years. These shortcomings underscore the need for a smarter, more efficient, cloud-based digital platform.

The InvestCloud approach

Emerald, InvestCloud’s cloud-based Modeling, Accounting and Custody (“MAC”) system, can help your organization to operate more efficiently and effectively, and benefit from InvestCloud’s rapid and low-risk implementation approach.

With cloud solutions from InvestCloud’s digital platform, implementation is fast. InvestCloud’s PWP (Programs Writing Programs) technology aids rapid configuration. InvestCloud does the heavy lifting, including managing the infrastructure – leaving the business teams who rely on the software free to ensure that it’s configured correctly and fit for purpose.

InvestCloud’s approach ensures that your organization will never have to endure another traditional software rollout to get its hands on the latest functionality. Users get instant access to the latest innovations without having to worry about installing new software or hardware. Emerald is continuously updated, not only to release new features, but also in light of compliance and regulatory enhancements, security updates, usability improvements, patches and bug fixes. This ensures state of that art features for your clients and advisors such as client portals, advisor portals, client communication, client reporting, and financial mobility.

Flexibility and agility

Modern, successful businesses are good at coping with change. InvestCloud makes this flexibility easy. Extending the capabilities of your system by adding new functionality from InvestCloud’s suite of apps is simple and fast because all InvestCloud modules are designed to work together. It’s easy to add new features and functionality to your digital platform such as tools for client reporting and client communication, as and when required, without having to integrate software from different vendors.

For customers wishing to develop their own customer-facing propositions, InvestCloud Emerald is fully API enabled. This allows our clients to focus on building their unique algorithms and client portals without having to re-invent the wheel building their middle- and back-offices.

Reducing costs & risk

In an increasingly competitive market, the cost of middle- and back-office technology has a direct impact on your organization’s bottom line. With lower infrastructure and maintenance costs, InvestCloud Emerald can significantly reduce the percentage that’s devoted to the middle and back office. This means you can invest in other areas while having access to the market’s most modern trading, accounting and settlements system. InvestCloud also takes on responsibility for the hardware infrastructure and security, which means lower explicit and implicit costs for our clients.

InvestCloud’s cloud pricing model allows maximum flexibility over traditional approaches. Extending the capabilities of InvestCloud Emerald can easily and rapidly be achieved from the InvestCloud suite of products. This saves time, cost and lowers your exposure and risk. Emerald is delivered using a SaaS model and is priced on a subscription basis. This gives a clear advantage over traditional, on-premises software deployments.

InvestCloud Emerald allows you to quickly deploy a modern modeling, custody and accounting platform that delivers the latest functionality and capabilities like fractional-share dealing, all with lower investment risk and great flexibility. This makes it a perfect fit for a re-platforming project.

To learn more about Emerald or our range of cloud-based solutions, book a demo at www.investcloud.com/Demo or call us at  +1 (888) 800-0188.

The genie is already out of the bottle for digital advice

 

In the last month, the so-called “DOL Fiduciary Rule“ has gone from being due for imminent implementation to now being in doubt, or at least materially delayed.

While the April 10 deadline for partial Rule compliance was postponed (the January 1, 2018 deadline is still up in the air), many firms have spent a great deal of time preparing for it. And while those firms are waiting to hear details about the delay as well as whether it will be scrapped altogether by the new Presidential Administration, neither changes the momentum.

Even if the Rule is repealed altogether, it doesn’t remove the massive benefits of digital advice. At this point, the genie is out of the bottle. Advisors and investors alike have already gone too far down this road, and are now in a better, stronger position, not to mention, client expectations are shifting to a new normal as clients exert their increasing financial mobility.

 Digital opportunity

The Rule – some six years in the making – was designed to expand the definition of an “investment advice fiduciary” to all financial institutions and individuals offering financial advice to retirement accounts and qualified plans, effectively elevating many advisors’ and planners’ obligations to clients from a “suitability” standard to a much higher “fiduciary” standard. They would be bound legally and ethically to meet the standards of that status, including changes to methods of client communication and client reporting.

This move – in concert with the reduction of services eligible for commissions – seemed initially to many in the industry to simultaneously cut out a revenue stream (commissions) while increasing costs (because of the additional time, effort and data-tracking systems required to comply with the Rule). But most advisors were not prepared to get out of the retirement game.

Luckily, FinTech came to the rescue, harnessing and building upon elements of digital advice previously applied almost exclusively in the Robo arena. The smart players quickly recognized both salvation and opportunity in digitalization.

Through a digital platform, forward-thinking advisors have discovered they can deploy advice from an advisor portal to a client portal as well as keep records in a fashion that both complies with the Rule and prevents ongoing cost increases to serve that client base. But they also found a better, more efficient way to do business – i.e., a way to actually lower costs vs. in-person meetings, paper forms and PDF reports, and in the process investors got a better digital experience.

Furthermore, most investors feel more comfortable with a fiduciary standard – the same standard that applies to RIAs. So digital advice provisioned under the Rule improves client satisfaction and loyalty, which in turn increases the longevity of the advisory relationship. With digital advice, advisors and planners promote stickiness – because it gives clients more control over how they can view and act on their investments on a client portal – at the same time as decreasing the costs to the advisor and planner of serving each client. Combining these two benefits is an obvious win-win.

 No U-turn in advice

While the Rule started as a regulatory regime, the double win to the advisory firm and to the investor – i.e., value innovation – is impossible to deny. Many in the industry see this and are pushing forward regardless. Now it’s about maximizing scale, profitability and investor happiness. Efficiency is the new goal. The Rule simply acted as a driver, with the result being the embrace of digital processes. Presidential Memos and a possible future Executive Order do not change that.

The genie isn’t going back into the bottle.

To find out more about how we can help you with digital advice, request a demo through our website at www.investcloud.com/Demo or call us at +1 (888) 800-0188.

Are You Ready for the Fiduciary Rule?

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The Department of Labor (DoL) Fiduciary Rule is to be phased in from April 10, 2017 to January 1, 2018, and the date is fast approaching for financial professionals who find themselves caught within the new legislature.

The crux of the debate is that the new rule expands the definition of a “fiduciary” in an investment advice role under the Employee Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). From April 10th it will include all advisors who work with retirement plans or even provide retirement planning advice, binding them legally and ethically to meet the standards of the status.

Weighing in at over 1,000 pages of legal documentation, the rule will have sweeping effects across the financial advisory sector. But the impact will vary across different types of advisor. Many observers suggest those who work on commissions, such as brokers and insurance agents, will be impacted most.

Legislative context

The DoL’s ruling is aimed at stopping the $17 billion a year the government claims investors waste in excessive fees. The idea is that the new regulation will stop advisers from putting their own interests in earning high commissions and fees, above their clients’ interests in obtaining the best investments at the lowest prices; the definition of fiduciary leaves no room for advisors to conceal any conflicts of interest.

As financial advisors grapple with the ever evolving complexities that develop from one of the largest legal changes to the industry since ERISA, it becomes clear that amongst all the issues, the many challenges can be converged into a single question: how can advisory firms, asset and wealth managers continue to grow within this new landscape? Read More

 

 

Financial Institutions Adopt Applet Approach

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The following is a summary of an article titled ‘Be Modular. A lesson for financial services’ written by Chris Allchin and Matt Austen.  InvestCloud’s Digital Applet Platform was designed from the beginning to provide financial institutions a digital Applet framework which supports this modular thinking for client communications, management, and automation.  The Applet capabilities are used by all types of financial firms, from independent RIAs to the world’s largest banking brands.

To continue reading the full article, click here

InvestCloud Announces Joint Business Relationship with PwC

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InvestCloud, LLC, the world’s largest Digital Applet Platform specifically designed to meet the needs of all types of financial services organizations, today announced that it has entered into a non-exclusive joint business relationship with PwC designed to accelerate adoption and implementation of the InvestCloud Digital Applet Platform. PwC will be a preferred implementation and strategy partner of InvestCloud focused on enterprise delivery and innovative development of new financial applet capabilities.

“InvestCloud has built an innovative and one-of-a-kind digital applet platform leveraged by 660 independent and institutional clients globally with over $1.5 trillion in assets on the platform,” said John Wise, CEO and Co-Founder of InvestCloud.”PwC is one of the largest strategic consulting organizations in the world, and has an excellent track record of connecting scalable innovative solutions like InvestCloud with some of the world’s largest financial brands. We are thrilled to partner with them to support our continued growth across the globe.

Click here to see the full press release.

InvestCloud Solves DOL Issues with Digital Advice Platform

By Colin Close, President InvestCloud

Is your broker-dealer ready for the Department of Labor’s new Fiduciary Standard?

You Can Be With InvestCloud’s Digital Advice Platform  

  • New DOL ruling requires that many retirement accounts now be managed using a fiduciary standard.
  • Millions of clients and trillions in retirement assets will be affected.
  • Firms need a cost effective way to align advice and client service to meet fiduciary standards.
  • InvestCloud allows firms to replicate the low-cost brokerage experience with a modern digital advice platform.

Millions of brokerage retirement accounts must now be advised using the fiduciary standard. Short-term impact to registered representatives and broker-dealers will be the migration of these assets into a fee-for-advice model.  The Best-Interest-Contract Exemption (BICE) is the alternative which requires additional client disclosures and heightened compliance oversight. InvestCloud’s Digital Advice Platform is used by hundreds of financial institutions across $1.5 Trillion in assets to automate your client advice, communication, and portfolio management capabilities.

InvestCloud’s Digital Advice Platform is the most customizable, cost-effective, fully integrated digital platform available today.  Our Applet based approach allows firms to scale the delivery of client advice, regardless of service model and account size.  Our proprietary MQMA (Multi-Question, Multi-Answer) risk profiling technology intelligently automates your custom KYC questionnaires, client onboarding, and investment policy statement by intuitively stepping your client through their own custom digital onboarding experience. The result: Client’s self-direct themselves to your own investment strategies and asset allocation models. Your own digital platform, your own service model, your own investment strategies, your own brand…all powered by InvestCloud. Going digital doesn’t mean you can’t be different.

CLIENTS   +    TECHNOLOGY   =    SCALABLE ADVICE AND SERVICE

Old Think
Smaller accounts are charged trading commissions or higher annual fee % due to low profitability and the increased maintenance/education required to service a mass-affluent client.  One service model forced onto all client types and sizes.

Singular Service Model
New Think
Clients individually choose their own level of service based on personal needs and portfolio requirements. Smaller accounts and digital-first clients operationally scale with client on-boarding and model portfolio automation applets with InvestCloud. High net worth clients choose the high-touch service model they demand with digital-first, full-service, and hybrid service models readily available for all types of clients.

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Clients are demanding digital services and cheaper advice models. High performance firms are leveraging InvestCloud’s Digital Advice Platform to quickly scale custom service models and meet the service demands for clients of all types and sizes.  The market is quickly responding and digital innovators are surfacing as competitive leaders. Grow your AUM by offering the service model your clients are asking for.

Cross the digital divide with InvestCloud’s fully integrated Digital Advice Platform.

Why Technology Projects Fail

The Importance of domain depth and the value of InvestCloud’s PWP®

The Numbers:

  • In a KPMG global survey, 86% of firms reported a shortfall of up to 25% of promised benefits across their project portfolios. (1)
  • In Geneca study, 78% of respondents reported that the “Business is usually or always out of sync with project requirements”. (2)
  • The same study reported 75% of companies said projects failed due to “Fuzzy objectives, out-of-sync stakeholders, and excessive rework”. (2)
  • Dobbs Journal survey found 70% of firms seeing signs from the start of a project that were likely to cause the project to fail. (3)
  • An IBM survey of 1,500 executives indicated 60% of “Change” projects fail to meet schedule, budget and quality goals. (4)
  • KPMG survey of Project Management practices showed 50% of firms saying their projects failed to consistently achieve project objectives. (5)
  • McKinsey & Oxford study of 5400 large scale IT projects found 45% of projects were over budget while delivering 56% less value than predicted. (6)

The high rate of failure for technology projects is legend. Billions of dollars a year are wasted on failed or abandoned technology implementations.  The Financial Services sector is a significant contributor to these horrendous failure stats.  The apparent reasons for failure are many, but they all trace back to two, and only two, key factors. The first is an inability to effectively define and communicate project requirements. The second is the development/implementation approach used to improve existing implementations or greenfield projects.

The Disposition of Better Definition

The most practical solution to the problem of ineffective project definition is to engage vendors with substantial experience and domain depth.  This will help ensure that the right questions are being asked and that reasonable expectations are being set.  Questions like 1) Do we have the right approach?  2) Do we have the right people? and 3) Are we building the right product?  These questions should include hearing the voice of the client as well as the voice of all types of users, both senior and junior.  The vendor should also have an in depth understanding of the eco-system where a project will live (cloud, coupled, modular, etc.). That is why vertical market specialists are often the best and most cost effective partners when a project is focused on requirements specific to a particular industry. There is no substitute for deep domain experience and a history of successful project implementations. This proves that an experienced vendor can be highly effective in laying the foundation of good requirements gathering and feature prioritization.

Collapsing the Duration of Iteration

The solution to closing gaps that emerge in implementing deliverables is a more difficult problem than the first. It is a problem inherent to the constraints of traditional enterprise software, and requires a radical new approach to application development. The reasons are two. The first is the “lost in translation” problem that happens when business analysts do their hand-off to programmers. The second is the greater time and expense required for traditional coding. Commonly it is months to quarters before the business user gets to see how closely, or not, the product outcome matches the intended requirement.  This is a result of traditional software development lifecycles like the “Waterfall” project methodology; Gather requirements once and start implementing until completed. It was essentially because of this problem that Agile methodologies have all but replaced the older Waterfall approach. Continuous iterations allow for a more consistent “clean-up” of the problems during the course of the project.  Ask the right questions, Build, Configure, Test, Release, REPEAT…typically over 2-3 week sprints of development.

At InvestCloud we have addressed this problem by developing a completely unique next-generation approach we call PWP® (Programs-Writing-Programs).  Our founders addressed this hard-coded, slow-to-implement project problem early on and invested significant resources to solve this core development issue.  The PWP approach is a collection of proprietary tools that allow business analysts and designers to do the configuration work of a traditional programmer with production ready code as the result. PWP developers that are closest to the needs of the business unit and requirements definitions develop applets in a very fast, secure, modular way. This unique agile approach collapses both the cost and time required to iterate.  Prototyping quickly with continuous user feed back is now much more cost effective and reduces risks of failure by identifying problems quickly. Within days to weeks the business user can be using actual pre-production versions of their applications with production environments ready as soon as users and quality assurance/risk teams have approved results.

Flexibly Fit-to-Purpose

This PWP® approach makes it very cost and time effective to create multiple versions of an application that is configured to the specific requirement of different business users. Evidence of that are the 4,000+ applets versions that our clients have uniquely configured from our core 150+ digital applet function sets such as Client Communication and Client Management.  The InvestCloud digital warehouse can deliver, in a secure multi-tenant environment, “house” views of data, which are about managing positions, exposures, risk, and trade compliance.  InvestCloud can then quickly deliver custom configurations of the applets for portfolio accounting “system” views which address firm management, billing, and tax reporting for example. Finally, there are the “reported” views to clients, intermediaries, and shareholders which are focuses on documenting and reviewing results.  Each of these user personas have unique needs that can be addressed with applets that are “fit to purpose” and quickly configurable based on their custom requirements and beautifully designed for each individual user…all without hard coding a single digital experience.

 

If you would like to learn more about InvestCloud and how our PWP® approach can ensure the success of your digital financial technology project or annual technology roadmap, visit us at www.investcloud.com or call us at 888.800.0188.

About InvestCloud

InvestCloud, Inc, the first of its kind, all-in-one “Cloudsourcing” (Cloud-based outsourcing) solution for the financial services industry. With $1.5 Trillion and 660 client firms on our platform. InvestCloud designs, develops, and deploys digital applications with pace setting efficiency for asset managers, private banks, fund of funds, investment advisors, and the managers of pensions and endowments. InvestCloud’s core value-add is data integration, consolidation, and analytics delivered across web and mobile applications. Equipped with our unparalleled and innovative cloud applets, InvestCloud’s solutions employ innovative elements of Form, Function, and Fulfillment that collaborate seamlessly with independent and legacy technologies including those of custodians and line-of-business applications which allow firms to leverage and extend their existing infrastructure.

 

1: KPMG. 2005 Global IT Project Management Survey of 600 organizations globally.

http://www.kpmg.com.au/Portals/0/irmpmqa-global-it-pm-survey2005.pdf

2: Geneca. 2010, 2011 Interviews with 600 people closely involved in software development projects.

http://www.geneca.com/75-business-executives-anticipate-software-projects-fail/

3: Dr. Dobbs Journal. 586 respondents to 2011 email survey on IT Project Success Rates

http://www.ambysoft.com/surveys/success2007.html

4: IBM. Oct. 2008 Survey of 1,500 change management executives on the failure rates of “change” projects.

http://www-935.ibm.com/services/us/gbs/bus/pdf/gbe03100-usen-03-making-change-work.pdf

5: KPMG. 2010 Survey of a broad cross section of companies on Project Management practices.

http://www.kpmg.com/NZ/en/IssuesAndInsights/ArticlesPublications/Pages/project-management-survey-2010.aspx

6: A 2012 McKinsey & University of Oxford study of 5,400 large scale IT projects with initial budgets greater than $15M. http://calleam.com/WTPF/wp-content/uploads/articles/Whatmakes.pdf