Practice - Technology
Microsoft Eyes “Advisor in a Box” Solution for Windows 8
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
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MIAMI - To attract more independent advisors to its Windows 8 platform, Microsoft is in the process of developing complete “advisor in a box” solutions for RIAs.

Thomas E. Feher, the financial services industry director for Microsoft’s U.S. Dynamics Industry Team, said Microsoft has already partnered with several “industry partners,” including Envestnet-Tamarac and Salientia to provide CRM solutions to advisors through the Windows 8 platform. But, he said, the next step is a preloaded package of tools and services specifically tailored for each advisor on the Windows 8 platform.

“We want to create a seamless business experience that is device agnostic,” Feher said during a breakout session Tuesday at Technology Tools for Today. “Microsoft wants to give advisors the power of choice.”

Currently, 90% of advisors are using Windows, but 62% of those advisors are using Windows 7 devices and 37% are still using Windows XP, according to Financial Planning’s annual technology survey.

Since its introduction in October , Feher said 60 million users have shifted to Windows 8 and it is adding 20 million new users each monthly.

Technology expert Joel Bruckenstein said with Windows 8 slick design and aggressive pricing, advisors need to adopt it “because that is where your clients are going to be using.”

With the new operating system still in its infancy, many advisors remain wary of the platform because of a concern about applications. Feher said any application that an advisor used on Windows 7 can be used on Windows 8.

Some providers are already developing Windows 8 applications. Trade PMR, who Bruckenstein described as an “up-and-coming custodian” have developed an interactive custodial app specifically for Windows 8.

Dennis Suppe, the company’s chief technology officer, said the platform is designed to be  “clean and simple” and gives advisors “more control to script a really story for clients.”

Feher said Microsoft has already quadrupled its app library for Windows 8, but he wants to focus on “quality over quantity.”

“We expect the number of apps will continue to grow daily,” he said.

Some technology providers are still taking a wait-and-see approach when it comes to Windows 8. Jon Reiners, the vice president of sales at Orion Advisor Services, said that over the past few years, Orion has been developing mobile apps for both the Apple and Android marketplace. He said the company has been considering a Windows 8 app, but remains wary.

“Advisors are their clients are still carrying iPads and iPhones and androids,” Reiner said. “We want to make innovations when and where the marketplace demands it. If demand changes, we will consider a Windows 8 strategy.”

Over the course of the next 12 to 18 months, Bruckenstein said he expects Windows 8 devices to continue to gain momentum with advisors and their clients.

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