NAPFA National was the first financial services conference we have attended that was not a technology specific conference, so we weren't sure how many advisors would be there looking for technology solutions...turns out, nearly all of them were.
After spending the week talking about the cloud and hearing from the source what financial planners want from their technology to serve their clients, here is some of what we learned:
I asked everyone I came in contact with how they were managing their documents and most of them were storing their documents on a server in their office and jumping through hoops to create backup disks and disaster recovery solutions in the name of meeting SEC compliance requirements. These advisors also expressed the need for anytime access and easier ways to share their content with clients.
When we presented the idea of the cloud, it was not a new concept to most advisors; however, when we showed them how NetDocuments provided them all of the benefits of the cloud without sacrificing any functionality, security or compliance, it was a compelling argument and most wanted to learn more.
After two days on the exhibit floor talking with advisors about their desire for their separate business applications to speak to each other, I attended a technology panel featuring Bill Winterberg and Davis Janowski and that same theme kept coming up. While NetDocuments is integrated with Salesforce, there was high demand to see integrations with other CRM and financial planning apps that would provide advisors a seamless way to handle a client's portfolio, documents and relationship...we have taken note and you can expect to see some innovation in this space in the near future.
Our enterprise customers are constantly chatting about the consumerization of IT and how the new technology that their employees are using in their daily lives is driving innovation in business apps. Personal financial advisors are talking about the same thing. Their customers are living on the web and want to communicate using new mediums...the only difficulty is that of confidentiality and SEC and FIRNA regulations regarding sending email attachments or providing client access without audit trails or history. That intersection is where client centric business apps are filling this need.
Next year the show will be in Chicago and you can expect to see the us and our cloud soda again. To continue the discussion, send us a tweet at @NetDocuments.