Laser App Software pioneered form-filling technology for financial services in 1995. Since then, it has grown to be an industry leader in the field. The company's software is used by six clearing firms, about 350 product carriers and about 350 broker-dealers. The company works with about 70 integration partners, providers of CRM software, financial planning software, portfolio management software, account opening software, commission compliance software, document imaging software, e-signature technology, portfolio management software and tax software.
The Laser App library includes about 29,000 forms. The firm's software is installed in roughly 110,000 locations. In the last year, more than 10 million forms were downloaded by users, and it's estimated that more than 20million forms were filled out using Laser App software.
THE NEW PRODUCT
Laser App Anywhere is the firm's new cloud-based product. It was introduced at the company's annual broker-dealer conference in August in San Diego, which attracted more than 300 advisors, broker-dealer and custodian personnel and technology vendors.
When the firm asked advisors what they wanted, they said "the cloud," according to Robert Powell, Laser App Software's vice president of sales and marketing. Some of these advisors probably didn't know exactly what the cloud is, but they knew what the concept meant to them: freedom to access any form, from anywhere, at any time.
Broker-dealers undoubtedly had their own wish list. They wanted something that would further reduce not-in-good-order paperwork, while meeting institutional-grade compliance and security standards. The software also needed to be easy to set up and use.
Although it was not explicitly stated, Laser App Software no doubt had a wish list of its own. It needed a 21st century edition of its legacy desktop-based product. Addressing an audience primarily made up of broker-dealer employees, Ed Beggs, the CEO and founder of Laser App Software, said, "If you don't provide good technology, your customers will leave you." He went on to state that 22% of new advisors are younger than 40, and 5% are younger than 30. "Young people grew up with technology," he said. "They expect technology, and they demand it of their providers."
This new cloud-based system was designed from the ground up with four major goals: to make it accessible, to make it simple, to make it reliable and to make it powerful. Laser App Anywhere is still in beta, so I have not been able to test it extensively yet, but based upon what I've seen so far, it appears to meet or exceed the needs of its constituencies, and it appears to meet all of its objectives.
Laser App Anywhere can be launched through two channels: CRM software systems and the account-opening solutions offered by broker-dealers and custodians. So, if an advisor has entered a prospect's information into the CRM system and the prospect decides to become a client, the advisor can launch Laser App Anywhere, select the appropriate forms and have those forms pre-populated with data contained within the CRM system, provided the CRM vendor is integrated with Laser App. If a broker-dealer or custodian has a workflow that originates at an account opening solution, Laser App Anywhere would pull information from that application and pre-populate the forms.
The accessibility applies anywhere, on any device. Laser App Anywhere should be accessible from smartphones, tablets and PCs running major operating systems like Windows, Mac OS X, iOS and Android. Laser App says the application is compatible with all major web browsers. No installation is required, nor is PDF software.
EASE OF USE
Laser App Anywhere is simple to use. Based on a demo and my brief hands-on experience with the product, any advisor should be able to master the application in minutes.
Advisors can locate the form they need using one of three methods. The first is search. From a drop-down list, they would select, for example, the form type. They would next select the form vendor. They would then view a filtered list of forms that meet their criteria. The second method is to select from a published group, a list of forms that an administrator at the broker-dealer or custodian creates for the user. The third method is to choose from a personal form group, a list that a user has created for his or her own use. The system can store multiple published groups and personal groups, so multiple groups can be created, each related to a specific workflow.