Post Authored by Leonard Johnson, VP Marketing, NetDocuments
Leonard Johnson and Marc Duncan attended T3 Conference in La Jolla, California. We not only enjoyed beautiful, warm weather at the Hilton La Jolla Hotel adjacent to the world-class Torrey Pines Golf Course, but more importantly we enjoyed visiting with many of our customers and consultants of this prestigious financial investment advisory industry. Marc works closely with our customers and prospective customers in this industry and he stated, "it was like a family reunion." We have wonderful customers who are great to work with and we greatly appreciate their business.
NetDocuments provides an easy-to-use document management that provides these firms with business continuity, client-centric document organization, SEC/FINRA compliance, and client sharing. We also provide a market-leading Salesforce integration and as firms move that that CRM, they all migrate to NetDocuments for their document management.
Leonard presented in two panels, one on document management and the other on client portals. There were about 40 in attendance to each one. The document management panel was interesting as we were positioned along with two other companies that were legacy, server-based DM and one other SaaS DM. It was clear by the questions and the follow up with people that this market knows that the industry trend is clearly moving to SaaS, cloud-computing based applications. We had a significant interest following both of these sessions.
I would like to share a few observations regarding this market and potential trends that would be interesting. There are too many vendors, e.g. portfolio planning or analysis software, trying to provide a "one solution fits all" approach, attempting to offer everything and the kitchen sink...which only confuses the customer and provides less than best-of-breed in each solution. Client portals are one of these solutions that everyone tries to offer. Document archiving is another area that applies in some cases.
Additionally, there have been worthwhile attempts, e.g. YourSilverBullet, that has brought vendors together under the guise that they will "technically integrate" with one another and provide customer solutions. But in speaking with their representatives, they acknowledge that their standards (two years in the making) remain elusive (i.e. years away from being defined) and that the underlying focus of this group appears to be co-marketing and leveraging their membership for joint marketing activities and gaining discounts on events and advertising. I am concerned they are ignoring the market needs and what the customer wants.
When speaking with Bruce Moulton, creator of the XLR8 overlay for Salesforce, owner of consulting firm Moulton Strategic Partners and Director of Operations for Tolleson Wealth Management, he defined four essential applications needed in every RIA firm: 1)portfolio management software, 2) financial planning software, 3) Contact Relationship Management (CRM) and 4) document management (along with backend email archiving for compliance purposes), and every firm should have the choice of best in breed products/services. This makes sense to me. The advisor interface throughout the day is typically their CRM. Document management should not be offered by the CRM provider but should tightly integrate, and the same for any financial planning software.
Bruce feels that a client portal is a logical extension of a document management solution, since it can take advantage of the full document collaboration, permissioning, security, etc., yet not force the firm into maintaining multiple copies of the same document in disparate systems.
I was quite intrigued during the client portal session when one person in the front row stated that "Mint.com" should be the front-end client portal to the client. Now that's a fresh approach (no pun intended). I really appreciated that comment as I tend to agree.
Here's why? Wouldn't it be amazing if NetDocuments integrated with Mint.com (now owned by Intuit) whereby the client or person not only managed their banking accounts and personal financial information with Mint.com, a free service by the way and thus can capture wide adoption, but had the investment statements sent directly there as well (as they now do), and there was a tab or integrated, single-sign on page within Mint.com to access the investment advisors work and documents being shared by him/her, i.e. NetDocuments client portal embedded within Mint.com. NetDocuments would and should be embedded within the advisors CRM (which we do today with Salesforce.com and in future with Redtail.com), and NetDocuments should be accessible and embedded within the client's Mint.com.as the portal or secure link from advisor to client. Mint.com truly becomes a client portal to his/her financial world. Communication by the advisor would be direct with the client via the related document and collaborative portal (NetDocuments) provided by the advisor but linked to Mint.com for a single client portal. The accountant and the lawyer who works with the same client could also share via the netdocuments portal-all secured and all compliant across industry regulatory boards.
Interesting.... any thoughts?