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 In the clear majority of cases, inflexible and outdated legacy technology was to blame.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.

Wealth and millennials: how they think, spend and save

The millennial generation – those born between the early 1980s and mid 1990s – are now either just joining the workforce, or well into their careers. As millennials gather the responsibilities of adulthood, financial and wealth management products come with the territory – this is the essence of financial mobility. Not surprisingly the wealth industry is paying close attention to this coming generation.

 

Possibly the most studied segment in history, millennials have been variously labelled as narcissistic, entitled, tech-savvy and ethically conscious. Their relationship with financial institutions is well documented. The financial crisis and subsequent scandals created a general feeling of distrust toward the industry, but millennials have started to emerge as the largest client opportunity in the coming years. In order to capitalize on the opportunity, wealth and asset managers must adapt to successfully serve this complicated and fiscally important generation.
The growing millennial impact

Last year 40 percent of the global adult population were under 35 years old. Today they account for US $1.3 trillion in direct consumer spending in the US. This figure will balloon over the next decade as the millennial generation is projected to account for 75 percent of the workforce by 2025  (source: Bank of America Merrill Lynch).
Three trends will dictate how this population will acquire and use their wealth.
First, as the current 18-34-year-old cohort enter prime earning years, their liquid assets will increase substantially.

 

Second, these younger generations are seen to be more entrepreneurial than their parents, which should accelerate the increase of their available assets: Deloitte found that 54 percent of millennials have started, or plan to start, their own business – 27 percent are already self-employed.

 

And thirdly, millennials should benefit from a transfer of wealth from their parents, the baby-boomers, driving a future wave of inheritance that wealth managers need to prepare for.

 

Behavioral characteristics

 

So how should wealth managers adapt to serve this group successfully? Critically, you need to get a good understanding of their behaviors.

 

Millennials are drawn to authenticity and want this reflected in how they live, work and invest. Long-established wealth managers steeped in the traditions of stability and continuity may need to rethink their own culture and recruitment policies to connect and engage this coming generation, using a more empathetic client communication approach.

 

They are socially and environmentally aware, not only concerned with the state of the world, but vocal about the need for change. Which means they don’t consider profit as the sole success factor of an investment. Millennials seek out organizations and investments that prove their value with acts of social responsibility.

 

Nor has the impact of the global financial crisis been forgotten. This generation was greatly affected and as a result is more cautious and conservative than baby boomers.

 

This was also the first generation to grow up in a digital platform world, acknowledging technological innovation as a constant. They adopt early. They try out new services. They value utility. They resent friction.

 

Their financial habits are like everything for them, always online first – it is their default setting.

 

For millennials, technology is the key differentiator that wealth managers must be aware of. Deloitte found that 57 percent would change banks for a better technology platform solution. There is no reason to think wealth managers are not under the same scrutiny to offer client portal and client reporting advancements.

 

Financial advisory adaptations

 

Based on these different behaviors, it is fair to assume millennials are not being satisfied. But the opportunity to do so clearly exists, and for wealth managers who react it will be greatly rewarding. To combat distrust, financial advisors need to focus on pricing transparency and become more communicative and open, ideally with new choices of alternative investments, markets and products.

 

Most importantly, wealth managers need to better engage millennials digitally. The InvestCloud Digital Experience involves clients, provides an intuitive experience and is highly personalized, supporting many varied personas in order to work for each individual. Opportunities abound for wealth managers to advance the millennial client experience – not to mention to make advisor portal and other internal tools better for the management of this crucial client demographic. Now is the time to act.

 

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

 

#clientportal #advisorportal #clientcommunication #clientreporting #digitalplatform #financialmobility

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.