With data breaches rocking even the biggest names in the financial world, some companies are trying to capitalize on executives' concerns by offering data management solutions tailored for asset managers. Firms seeking cloud support will have to decide, though, whether to choose a new, more innovative firm, or a more mature but established provider.
Having already developed cloud-born software for companies in industries dealing with sensitive and highly regulated data, including energy, education and healthcare, upstart technology firm Box is looking to add asset management firms to its client roster.
Despite having launched only in 2005, the Los Altos, Calif.-based firm has garnered several partnerships, including Bloomberg Vault File Analytics, Capgemini and e-SignLive by Silanis. Box's customers include KKR, Sierra Pacific Mortgage and First American Equipment Finance. The financial firms join hundreds across several platforms already using it: Nationwide Insurance, Guaranteed Rate and Encore Capital.
Box co-founder and CEO Aaron Levie says financial firms have been cautious about selecting vendors for cloud computing. "Because of the highly sensitive nature of the data it deals with and the strict compliance standards it's held to, the financial services industry has been slow to embrace cloud and mobile technologies," Levie said.
"Leading firms are recognizing that mature cloud platforms not only offer agility and productivity, but also an opportunity for better security and visibility around their most valuable content."
By mid-January, Levie's firm already raised a reported $175 million in its initial public offering, beating their largest competitor, Dropbox. Shares rose an estimated 66% to $23.23 after being priced at $14 in the IPO, valuing the company at roughly $2.7 billion, Bloomberg reports.
"Banks are very concerned about being able to get to their data, and in many cases, financial firms want really fast access to the data," explained Ray Pompon, director of security at Linedata. "You really want to go with a large trusted provider who you know could stand behind the guarantees and reliability."
Pompon, an avid Amazon cloud user, has weighed in on cloud development alongside numerous providers and vendors for the last several years as a board member with the Cloud Security Alliance, a not-for-profit organization that works to develop best practices and security issues surrounding cloud technology.
In the world of e-commerce, where tech companies can see substantial overnight growth, Pompon said banks and financial institutions must not only decide whether keeping data in a cloud is fiscally beneficial option, but also whether it is beneficial to current operations.
"With Amazon, you would be looking at a large trusted provider," said Ray Pompon, security director at Linedata. "Box is getting into that space."
When the firm decided to target the financial industry, Whitney Bouck, general manager and senior vice president at Box, said a top order of business was to develop a staff of economic experts that could reflect what the industry needed.
For instance, with full integration to Box's application for digital devices, Bouck said advisors can potentially invite prospective clients into its cloud and share folders that are now accessible on all platforms.
"If you ever met with a financial advisor, you see them come to the house of their respected clients with a paper binder to walk them through their services," she explained. "Instead of that paper binder now, financial advisors can go into one of those meetings with an iPad and a folder of information stored in Box, effectively custom assembled for that client."
Box developed a lineup of tools, including retention management compliance features, a watermarking tool and enabling companies to control encryption keys and manage their own cloud. It is also working to allow customers to meet FINRA regulatory compliance standards, including requirements for how electronic records are preserved in non-rewriteable, non-erasable formats, for specific periods of time.
Debt management firms like Encore Capital have gone as far as to begin leveraging Box's APIs to integrate their ongoing partnership with companies like Liferay, a document portal tool servicing roughly 100 law firms.
"Box serves as the content platform layer to Liferay, delivering custom document search and delivery capabilities to the portal," explained Encore's senior vice president and chief information officer Carl Eberling. "With this solution, Encore was able to design workflows starting from the beginning evaluation process with an account all the way through final settlement and closure - and aggregate all documents and media in one central location."
Box's partnership with Capgemini is an effort to integrate the platform into their All Channel Experience insurance solution, allowing Box to develop custom apps that allows clients integrate with their cloud.
Clients of Box say they are pleased with the service they've so far received.
"Leveraging cloud and mobile technologies to provide our employees with access to content at any time is key to our ability to build a sustainable competitive advantage and drive productivity across our organization," said Ed Brandman, KKR spokesman. "Box provides a secure collaboration platform."