I'm happy to report that Rob Major, CEO of AssetBook, is a self-critical executive. Major began working on the technical side of the advisor business in 1992; before founding AssetBook, he was probably best known as a co-founder of TechFi, the developer of an SQL-based portfolio management and accounting system.
Advent Software purchased TechFi in 2002 and terminated support for TechFi products in 2004. By 2005, I was taking my first look at Major's new product: AssetBook. Since then, Major and his team have made important incremental upgrades to the platform to better meet the needs of independent RIAs. The classic AssetBook system is successful enough that it continues to be offered.
But Major told me recently that he felt his firm was losing some sales because of perceived product weaknesses in three areas: graphics, usability and flexibility in altering the screen view.
Radar, AssetBook's new software as a service portfolio management system, was built to address those weaknesses. And it includes some new features that advisors are sure to like.
The home page dashboard provides immediate evidence of attention to the areas that Major vowed to address. It is flexible, easy to use and incorporates improved graphic capabilities. The page is fully customizable - that is, you can select from a large group of widgets, known as "radar scopes" in AssetBook parlance.
A button at the upper right of each radar scope governs settings. Click this, and a dialog box appears that allows the user to customize the scope. For example, if a scope lists my largest accounts, I can order a chart to be included next to the list. A drop-down menu offers two default chart types: pie chart or column chart. Another menu allows you to select the number of accounts to display in the scope.
The charts themselves are interactive. In the example of the large accounts list, when you mouse over a slice of the pie chart, you can see several details: the registration of the account, the account balance in dollars and the percentage of your total AUM that the account represents.
A special type of list on the home page is the alerts scope. One powerful new Radar feature is the ability to establish various types of alerts and have those alerts appear on your home page.
These alerts are highly customizable. For example, you can be alerted when a sum of cash exceeding a certain threshold flows into or out of the account. If your clients are on a systematic withdrawal plan, you can set the tool to check that balances are sufficient and alert you if additional cash is required. You can also set required minimum distribution reminders or portfolio drift reminders that will notify you if a portfolio requires rebalancing.
Major soon hopes to leverage the TD Ameritrade VEO Open Access API so that the firm's custodial alerts can flow right through into the Radar alerts system.
The bottom line is that without leaving the initial page, an advisor can obtain a great deal of information about the overall status of the firm's portfolios. Screens can be customized at the user level, so that as employees perform various functions, each can have his or her own screen views.
Other sections of the application work like the home dashboard. For instance, an account dashboard page is populated with various radar scopes that can be further customized.
To cite one example, in the performance scope I can show a chart comparing returns against an index, like the S&P 500. I can specify that I want returns calculated using either the time-weighted return method or internal rate of return. Using drop-down menus, I can specify the return periods that I want to display. I can also set up a tax considerations widget - to display, for example, my top unrealized gain or loss positions.
For more information, click the accounts detail tab. This allows you to simultaneously view two charts from the drop-down lists as well as such information as the fee schedule applied to the account, the tax ID, the model associated with the account and the core cash position (if any). There is also room here for notes related to the account.