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The Case for Integrating Wealth Management Technologies: Enhanced Productivity and Customized Advice
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Partner Insights

The growing complexity of investing has created challenges for investors and financial advisors alike.  Investors face an ever-growing menu of portfolio options, investment strategies and product solutions. At the same time, financial advisors must meet investor demand for more personalized, comprehensive and cohesive advice.  For advisors, the way to earn more clients and increase assets under management is to couple goals-driven, client-centric planning, with the ability to support a wide variety of investment strategies and portfolio constructs.

The most effective solution to address the needs of both advisors and clients is through a consolidated technology platform, which aggregates the data from all accounts and investments into a comprehensive view. And, beyond just providing a view into the assets of an individual, the aggregation can extend to include all family members to provide transparency into the client's total household financial picture. This comprehensive process of profiling and planning around total household assets, liabilities, income and expenses is commonly referred to as the unified managed household (UMH).

Tasks such as analyzing account data, trading and reporting are necessary areas of focus to provide an enhanced level of customized service and advice to clients.  Investors are seeking customized advice and solutions in order to meet specific financial goals. As such, they are also looking for simplified tracking and detailed monitoring of their performance according to their individualized goals, and not just relative to peer groups and benchmarks any longer. 

Efficiency is also a necessity for advisors who need to find more time to capture new business. Increased efficiency is often quite difficult to achieve when faced with data, product and workflow silos imposed by the use of suboptimal blends of legacy infrastructures and third-party systems and the related process redundancies.   To streamline workflows and remove technology silos, financial institutions can leverage an integrated, converged wealth management platform, intended specifically to heighten advisor and back-office productivity. 

Assuming the platform has all the right UMH features, the converged technology platform should also enable the advisor and financial organization to deliver highly customized, goal-driven advice to clients.  

To truly support the UMH approach, a converged wealth management platform should be:

  • Integrated to facilitate data exchange and seamless workflow among front-, middle- and back-office systems.  Advisors and their home office sponsors will leverage this integrated technology to more easily manage the client relationship and simplify trading and rebalancing for multiple accounts.
  • Flexible enough to support any type of investment product in the Managed Account program space. This includes unified managed accounts (UMA), separately managed accounts (SMA), Rep-as-Manager (RPM) and mutual fund advisory (MFA) accounts. With this capability, advisors can create highly customizable portfolios in an efficient, consistent and-most importantly-repeatable manner.
  • Configurable and entitlement-based deployment that can support all the wealth businesses of a firm-including broker-dealer, RIA and Private Bank-and its advisor types and clients.
  • Provide a single sign-on that enables the advisor's firm to provide an enhanced experience to investors.  With this capability, the financial organization will no longer need to require investors to open and document multiple accounts.

Such an integrated, flexible and configurable wealth management technology platform will provide advisors with the portfolio management and reporting solutions required to deliver more pertinent and timely advice.  A single platform capable of handling all of these functions will allow firms to deliver services with lower operational costs, resulting in higher profit margins.  Perhaps most importantly, a unified wealth management platform will provide advisors with the tools necessary to improve their ability to customize advice and in turn, build client trust and satisfaction.  

(1) Comment

The United Managed Houshold (UMH)perpetuates old technology and outdated processes, approaches to portfolio constructyion and work flows.

1. Financial planning software today is a series of disjointed calculators with no unifing expert authenticated prudent investment process (asset/liability study, investment policy, portfolio construction, monitoring and management) which supports fiduciary standing based on objective, non-negotiable fiduciary criteria of statute, case law and regulatory opinion letters. This is neededed inorder to make advice safe, scalable, easy to execute and manage as a high margin enterprise at the advisor level.

2. The brokerage format unecessarily complicates the free flow of data by virtue of a highly inefficient means to facilitate the transfer of data which has been resolved in Singapor and Hong Kong through the advancement of XBRL. The free flow of data renders the UMA and the UMH obsolete and facilitates the development of a broad range of apps which modernize portfolio construction and management that empower advisors with technical competencies like tax efficiency which are beyond the typical advisor skill set but essential for fiduciary duty.

3. It is what the advisor does with an investment or process that adds value, not products. Fiduciary standing can not be achieved by an advisor as long as advice is thought of in terms as a product the broker sells rather than a process the advisor manages. Edwards Demming, who reinvented automobile manufacturing to the chagrin of Detroit, observes "until one can define what they are doing as a process, they don't know what they are doing." You miss the most substantive point--expert, authenticated, process.


Posted by Stephen W | Wednesday, August 22 2012 at 10:24AM ET
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