Andrew Gluck

ContactAndrew Gluck is a veteran financial reporter and the founder and CEO of Advisor Products Inc., a marketing company serving 1,800 financial advisory firms.
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Advisor Products Inc.

RIAs Creating A Tech Stack Need A Long-Term IT Strategy edit
Monday, April 09, 2012 14:16

Financial advisors using Microsoft Exchange for email should consider other Microsoft products — such as Dynamics for CRM and SharePoint for file sharing. And if you are planning to switch from Microsoft to another small-business suite — Google Apps, for example — make the move in the context of your firm’s IT strategy. Those are the main conclusions from an interview with operations and compliance expert firm Chris Winn, founder of AdvisorAssist.

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Winn does not express a personal preference of Microsoft versus Google. But he emphasizes that advisors with no IT strategy should avoid making hasty decisions about using one or the other. Here’s why.
 
Let’s say you are using the Microsoft Office productivity suite (Word, Excel, Outlook, and Powerpoint). Winn says using Google Docs for file sharing with Office makes little sense. However, if you know you are going to be moving your office over to using Google Apps instead of Microsoft Office, then using Google Docs makes perfect sense. Point is, you need to decide where your firm is headed over the next few years.
 
Another example, if you know you are going to adopt Tamarac for performance reporting and rebalancing, sticking with Microsoft makes sense because Tamarac uses a Microsoft Dynamics platform for its CRM. (While it is not inexpensive, Tamarac, which was recently purchased by Envestnet, gets high marks from advisors for its integration of its rebalancing system, Schwab PortfolioCenter, and Micosoft Dynamics CRM.)
 
Winn spoke 10 days ago at an A4A webinar about cloud computing for RIAs. (A4A member can replay the webinar free.) I interviewed Winn last week to ask him questions we ran out of time for at the live webinar session.
 
On mobile security, Winn suggests advisors ask their data providers how they would “wipe” device remotely of any data if it is lost or stolen. He says, as a business customer, and ATT or Verizon, for example, both offer apps to wipe mobile devices remotely.
 
In addition, Winn says advisors, at a minimum, should password protect their mobile devices. It’s best, too, if separate login credentials are used for apps containing personally identifiable information, PII. If you use a mobile device to access PII stored on Dropbox, your firm’s crm, Winn says separate passwords are needed. Advisors can use a web-based password protection program or USB-drive to securely manage and encrypt all of their passwords.
 
Winn says state and federal examiners aer not asking advisors to sow them their mobile phones, but he speculates it’s just a matter of time befor that happens.
 
Winn says advisors must be prepared to provide examiners with two years of records on demand, even if those records are stored in the cloud. Winn says that federal examiners checking RIA compliance with books and records rules have always expected investment advisors to store two years of records in their offices. RIAs are required to keep records five years from the date of their last use, with the first two years expected to be stored onsite.  
 
In the interview, Winn also touches on social media archving and other compliance matters, including his opinion on whether the location of a cloud-based provider must be dislcosed on an ADV.
 
One topic Winn addressed was use of Dropbox and other consumer file-sharing apps. Since Winn commented favorably on an Advisor Products file-sharing solution, I moved that part of the interview to my Advisor Products blog.
 
This was the first try at using a video format for conducting these interviews and the audio contains the annoying sounds of my computer’s fan. I apologize and you’ll note that the noise was fixed by the end of the video. I’ll do better next time. Let me know what you think of the video format.
 
 
 
 

 

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