Looking for ways to better serve your wealth management clients and grow your business? One of the most valuable steps you can take is to integrate all the different activities into your workflow.
Integration is the key to facilitating accurate, transparent, and highly responsive client service. It starts with secure exchange of information between your core general ledger accounting system and your banking system. And plugging in a portfolio management solution is essential to provide the information you need not only about transactional finances, but also your clients’ invested wealth.
Ensuring that your accounting system works seamlessly with your tax preparation solution is critical for eliminating double entry and minimizing the potential for errors. Customer information, time and billing, and payment management are additional candidates for integration with your core system. Your workflow may also require exchanging information with business partners such as a health benefits manager or insurance broker.
Today, most of these services are digital and can share data electronically. For example, your insurance broker most likely sends insurance policies for your clients electronically in the form of PDF files, rather than on paper by surface mail. That means your core software should be able to read those files and load them into the document management portion of your accounting system. Question is, How do you put the pieces together?
Choosing the right option
To accomplish this integration, financial managers have three options:
- Consumer-grade solutions
- Large, all-in-one solutions
- Best-of-breed ecosystem solutions
Smaller business management firms and family offices may start with a consumer-grade accounting solution and spreadsheet programs. However, this type of technology is not built for the throughput that a growing organization requires, the business security that high-net worth clients expect, or the ease of integration with other systems that is needed to smooth your workflow.
At the other end of the spectrum, a really large professional services firm might purchase an all-in-one solution with pre-integrated parts designed to run a massive business. These packaged solutions are costly to purchase and maintain. They take a long time to implement and often require disruptive “rip and replace” installation. But the biggest drawback is that they don’t do everything well. For example, they often have an underdeveloped accounts payable module, which is difficult and costly to replace because it is deeply embedded in the package.
Benefitting from a best-of-breed ecosystem
Best-of-breed ecosystem solutions are well suited to small and mid-sized financial management firms and family offices. These organizations can start with a core solution and flexibly add capabilities as business requirements evolve. This approach also supports choice, enabling firms to pick the most suitable offering in each category from a whole ecosystem of solutions. For example, if they have a great aggregation system and workflow in place, but don’t like the reporting that is provided, they can easily plug in a different reporting platform.
The best-of-breed approach occupies a kind of “Goldilocks zone” between consumer-grade technology that can’t meet the needs of a professional business and all-in-one solutions that lock companies into an expensive, monolithic system that is often inflexible. A good best-of-breed solution combines professional-grade technology and flexible integration at the right value point.
Look for a core, specialized accounting system that gives you the potential to integrate with other business partners and solutions while also offering the enterprise security, scalability, and business controls you expect from a future-ready solution.