Archive for April, 2012
You just don’t see vendors to advisors get named to Gartner’s list of “cool vendors.” Sorry, I know RIAs think they are really a big deal but in the enterprise world covered by Gartner, the RIA segment of the financial services industry just does not matter much.
So when Craig Brauff, founder and CEO of Erado Message Control Solutions, an email and social media compliance solution, sent me a copy of Gartner’s research naming his company a “cool vendor” today, I was thrilled.
Erado was on my radar screen for the last few years but did not get on my personal list of “cool vendors” until about three months ago, when Brauff came to visit me here in Long Island.
Brauff is an economist who taught himself programming. In his early 50s now, he’s an entrepreneur with a track record of success. He’s a hands on guy, totally obsessed with doing great work. For instance, Brauff built his own data center because he decided that was a requirement for building a world-class advisor compliance business.
With an intensity that matches my own, Brauff and I are kindred spirits. When we sat down together in my home office after dinner one evening and got to know each other, we almost immediately became excited about one another’s work.
Erado was making technology simpler for advisors. For example, other social media compliance vendors had created proxies for logging into social networks. Big social media vendors have been requiring that advisors log into a compliant version of Linkedin, Facebook, or Twitter and use that to post content to their social networks. That means those other vendors have to support software proxies for smartphones, desktops , tablets, Androids, Macs, and PCs. I have learned from personal experience that ths is a bad approach.
Erado’s approach is different. It does not create a proxy to log into social networks in order to enforce compliance. It rids advisors of the need to use a proxy. Erado capture what is posted and turns it into an email where it can be reviewed by compliance officers and archived. Brauff went in a different direction from most vendors gaining momentum with enterprises. And it has paid off.
Gartner’s recognition is fantastic but the real recognition that Erado is doing something better it that its systems are getting adopted by large institutions. Erado now provides email and social media archiving for tens of thousands of advisors, and it is the compliance vendor chosen by many large BDs, including LPL Financial.
When Brauff told me about his ideas for advisor email and social media compliance three months ago, I knew right away that Erado was a cool vendor. But what was really cool is that Brauff felt the same way about Advisor Products!
I showed Brauff how the Financial Advisor Social Media Content Stream from Advisor Products would work. (It just went live recently and we are looking for beta testers.) Brauff got it. While other vendors offered content, Brauff on the spot that evening validated that what Advisor Products is doing would be better. Advisor Products, Brauff understood, was dong something really cool!
It was at that moment when we decided Erado and Advisor Products would work together.
In a few days, Advisor Products and Erado will start providing RIAs with Erado compliance solutions — email archiving and encryption as well as social media archiving.
The price will be 20% below what Erado charges RIAs for its compliance solutions. Erado is treating Advisor Products like a large enterprise buyer and Advisor Products is passing on the savings to RIAs.
RIAs will be able to buy cloud solutions for Office 365 and Google Apps bundled with email and social media compliance.
Advisor Products has been in search of a compliance vendor that could meet the needs of RIAs for about five years. But Erado really is a cool vendor and that’s why we chose Erado.
Tonight, at long last, we’re going live with a financial advisor social media dashboard (SMD.
People who have seen SMD say it’s like HooteSuite for advisors.
We create content — articles and videos — and we write three status updates (tweets) about each topic. You use SMD to send your tweets.
SMD is an ingenuous way for a wealth manager to post updates to social networks once a day on topics high-net-worth individuals need to know about: how the improving financial condition of state governments might affect muni bonds, utilizing “stretch” IRAs, how not to spoil their kids, and asset protection strategies for doctors.
The beauty of the SMD is that Advisor Products does the heavy lifting by writing about these strategies authoritatively. All you do is rewrite the tweets we provide to target it to you social networks.
The SMD is included free with all Platinum-licensed websites. You can add the social media content stream and our content to any website for $1337 annually.
If you’re interested in becoming a beta tester, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know.
The ease of use of consumer file sharing apps like Dropbox and Box makes them so convenient, but advisors must be thoughtful about using consumer file-sharing apps in their practice.
Dropbox and Box are best-in-class file sharing apps, but they are not built expressly for investment advisors.
I recently interviewed Chris Winn, founder of AdvisorAssist, a leading operations and compliance consultancy, about use of Dropbox and other consumer file-sharing apps by RIAs and registered reps. I honestly did not know where Winn was going to come out on this issue. His response is important because investment advisors are obliged legally to take care with a client’s personally identifiable information. Liability and regulatory issues are involved, and Winn is an independent expert.
To hear Winn advise against using Dropbox and other file sharing consumer apps with clients in favor of a system like AdvisorVault validated my thoughts in creating a secure client communications portal to meet the specific needs of RIAs.
Informed by Winn’s comments, here are a few of the issues advisors must consider as consumer file-sharing apps grow in popularity with consumers:
Compliance-Configuration. Dropbox, Google Docs, and other file sharing apps may have the features necessary to enable a configuration that forces prudent practices by clients. For example, clients sharing documents with you should be forced to create create password at least eight characters in length (preferably 10) and that use at least one non-alphanumeric and one upper-case character. But you must configure consumer apps to enforce such policies.
Internal Versus External. Winn says using Dropbox and other consumer file-sharing apps are okay for use with staff but not with other professionals or clients. If a client is using his own Dropbox account with you, you do not control the security policies of the client or outside professional.
Fast And Easy But Not Carefree. The near-instant access ease of file sharing apps makes it easy to give little thought to security. Yet people are posting personally identifiable data in many places more often.
Supporting Consumer Apps. Advisors who do not create their own dedicated client portal will find that their clients have done so and that it is scattered across the World Wide Web, which means advisors will often find themselves supporting an array of file-sharing apps. Instead of spending quality time with clients, you spend time time supporting clients with tech problems.
One Client Portal. Unless you do it for them, your clients over the next few years are probably going to create their own online vaults. You’ll have lost the opportunity to organize your clients’ personal financial information on your firm’s website.
Winn and I have collaborated together on A4A webinars and other projects for nearly three years, but he never brings up solutions made by Advisor Products and I’ve never asked him to do so. In this instance, however, the growing popularity of online file-sharing apps made the question inevitable and his answer important.
The three-minute video below is actually a short snippet from a longer interview with Winn posted to Advisors4Advisors. Because Winn spoke about Dropbox versus a solution from Advisor Products — AdvisorVault — I removed this portion of the video from A4A and posted it here because it’s basically an endorsement of AdvisorVault. However, getting an endorsement from an independent compliance consultant I really respect makes me proud.
With more advisors and their clients using the iPad to access to the Web, it’s good to know the popular tablet is compatible with AdvisorVault.
With an iPad you touch any folder icon to drill into a folder or touch any document to pop it open.
AdvisorVault’s dynamic HTML reports, which work with Schwab PortfolioCenter, Advent Axyx, AssetBook, Orion, Albridge, TD Ameritrade VEO, and other systems, look great on the iPad. Ticker symbols in performance reports can be opened by touching them and you can navigate across the reports.
Clients and collaboration partners, whether they’re on an iPad, iPhone, or Android device can view files securely in AdvisorVault.
With clients increasingly using Web-based file storage systems like DropBox, establishing a client financial portal that you can brand and control is wise. It will be compliant, integrated with professional systems, and include the security features needed investment advisors. And it’s compatible with the latest mobile devices used by you and your clients.
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