At the Intersection of Financial Data and Intuitive Design

  • Andrew Lewis , Executive Vice President, InvestCloud

  • 04.05.2016 08:49 am

The role of aesthetics and design in financial technology has long been underestimated. While most technology providers struggle for functional execution and speed, the aesthetic components of their programs often leave much to be desired. A meaningful balance between practical functionality and aesthetic value can therefore be key to success in the market. The digital solutions for client communication, client management, and client automation created by InvestCloud address this combination. InvestCloud’s digital platform has already attracted more than 660 clients across a broad mix of sectors, totalling over $1.5 trillion in assets being managed across this. The company is now expanding in Europe with an office opening in London. Andrew Lewis, Executive Vice President of InvestCloud, shared his vision of the digital applet technology and design within US and European context.

“We’re seeing a lot of client portals and communications technology in the market that don’t look as good as they could –the systems haven’t really moved on since the late 90s, and they don’t integrate fully to allow customers to have the best digital experience possible. What we find is that many investment management firms tend to rely heavily on using programmes like Excel, with individuals pulling all the information (relevant portfolio or client information) together when needed. Overall it’s not very pragmatic, as the whole user experience is not very good and basic portfolio management and communicating financial information to a client can take a lot of time” comments Lewis.

As a matter of fact, most investment management, wealth, and banking platforms are very complicated in their functional and systematic design. As a result this complexity of functions and content increases chances for overloading the users. InvestCloud’s answer to this problem is the intuitive digital experience and design in all of its Applets and digital platform. US – based financial advisors and institutions have been using InvestCloud’s platform since 2010. In addition to its cloud –based secure architecture and good taste in design, the platform offers solutions across a very broad range of asset classes, for a firm of any size. The smallest client currently served by InvestCloud is a $5 million start-up hedge fund, and the largest is $360 billion asset services company.

“InvestCloud’s Digital Platform is a combination of our Digital Warehouse, over 150 financial and business applets, and intuitive digital experiences. We’re pre-integrated into many global custodians and popular accounting systems as well as over 14,000 3rd party account sources such as banks and brokerage firms,” continues Lewis. 

“The key components of our platform are client communication, client management and client automation functionality, all delivered via highly secure cloud technology. Essentially, if the end user has a portfolio with a wealth or asset manager, we provide the tools to engage in that portfolio in a dynamically designed and customisable fashion. On the client management side, we provide managers with everything they need to manage portfolios, evaluate trades, run performance reports and screens, manage compliance processes, re-balance, reconciliation, and so on. We have a lot of functionality with our CRM and Portfolio Management Applets for portfolio and relationship managers to manage those relationships with end-users, particularly around client reporting and digital tools on performance of portfolios. To do this we’ve developed over 150 applets with a specific design for each functionality. And you only pay to use the applets you want to use. Client automation applets consist of accelerating the client life cycle from on-boarding, risk profiling, and relationship building.  Client automation is key to scalable investment advice and we are seeing allot of requests from firms that want to start differentiating their service model based on client type and profitability.  Our Applets are highly customizable for each firm to create their own unique client lifecycles for each of their client types.”

Currently InvestCloud is opening an office in London to reach European clients in the wealth management space, IFAs, asset management, and family office sector. Ex-Charles River sales guru, Andrew Reid Thomas, will drive EMEA sales efforts with additional executives moving to Europe to meet the growing demand. In comparison to many other providers, InvestCloud develops its solutions with more code-generation rather than human programmers involvement. All its products are coded through special development tool kit Programs-writing-Programs™ (PWP™) which allows new Applets to come to market rapidly and have a competitive pay – per – functionality pricing.  Much less expensive than hiring developers to build custom solutions.  PWP generates production ready Applets, unique to each client, very quickly.  Some of the worlds largest financial institutions have realized our competitive advantage and are quickly building Applets on our digital platform to leapfrog their competitors.

“We have a smaller team that maintains the development tool kit, but many more analysts, designers, and subject matter specialists using the tool to build digital applets and user experiences for financial institutions. One of the key differentiators for us is that we can develop a product with a unique experience for each client – be it a large financial institution or a smaller individual investment manager. Each client can have complex or basic customisation, such as colour scheme, asset classes available, visualisations, integrations, and so on. We even enable our clients to create their own custom investment models and strategies to further extend their own brand and secret sauce. Each one can have the most sophisticated experience they want.”

“We also have a lot of APIs with integration tools, so we can pull in data from trading systems, custodians, news channels, social media, market data providers, and deliver this across all mobile platforms – Android, iPhone, iPad.  We integrate all of these data sources into our Digital Warehouse which is designed to store structured financial data, such as holdings and transactions as well as unstructured data, such as social media activity and documents.”

To address the rise of “Robo” tools, InvestCloud is also also bringing its Digital Advice Platform Applets like MQMA or Multi-Question, Multi-Answer to the European market. These applets help advisors who don’t want to lose their assets to cheaper, more modern platforms and would like to benefit from some functionality and components of “Robo” tools.  Digital Advice provides automation of an institution’s KYC and an on-boarding process into an intuitive client lifecycle. Clients can self-select their risk profile and are given a recommendation of models and strategies provided by the institution in a single, integrated experience.  Clients that are digital-first may require a new service and pricing model and our platform allows firms to meet this demand.

“We define digital as the intersection between financial data and intuitive design,” concludes Lewis. “We are currently the largest digital design firm dedicated specifically to Financial Services. The business founders have developed a string of successful FinTech businesses, in London (predating the buzzing FinTech scene on Silicon Roundabout), New York and now on the US West Coast. We are innovating the FinTech space with our PWP software development and intuitive designs. InvestCloud is the premier partner to financial institutions and advisors for retaining assets and growing financial business in the digital age.”

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