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Just the Apps, Ma’am

From the Sept. 2006 Issue

Article: The Technology of Financial Services

Specific technologies and applications used by tax preparers providing financial
services include the following:

  • DOCUMENT & CONTENT MANAGEMENT — Document Management
    Systems (DMS) and Content Management Systems (CMS) enable organizations to
    create/capture, manage/secure, store/retain/destroy, publish/distribute, search,
    personalize, and present/view/print digital content such as pictures/images,
    text, reports, video, audio and transactional data, according to
    help the practitioner disclose fees, possible conflicts of interest, expected
    investment risk, and other required disclosures to clients. While some disclosures
    are required by statute, others are to prevent legal liability or to protect
    the practitioner against charges of an undisclosed conflict of interest.
    — Financial planning tools help the practitioner define a client’s
    investment objectives and calculate the resources needed to achieve those
    objectives. The findings are assembled into a financial plan, which is then
    presented to the client. With the annual flurry of new and expiring tax provisions,
    this software segment requires the practitioner to select a tool that meets
    their current needs with frequent updates.
  • INVESTMENT RESEARCH — These tools are used to obtain
    information about products, earnings histories and investment strategies for
    an investment.
  • TRADE MANAGEMENT — Trade Management tools are used
    to initiate, settle and record purchases and sales of holdings. Since these
    assets are usually held in “street name” by a broker/dealer or
    a trust company, it is imperative that all parties keep detailed records of
    transactions. These tools also have the potential to shift time-consuming
    tasks such as stock trading data from the busy winter season into portions
    of the year that are less hectic.
  • PORTFOLIO MANAGEMENT — Portfolio Management tools
    are used to periodically analyze a client’s holdings, and they can be
    programmed to alert the advisor if adjustments are needed to the asset mix.
    Most software for performing this critical task will also do many of the calculations
    needed when rebalancing open positions.
    used to manage and track all correspondence associated with a customer, including
    letters, e-mails, faxes and trades. Effective client interaction tools can
    simplify collaboration with customers and enhance an organization’s
    ability to retain and serve the challenging needs of high net worth individuals.
  • CLIENT ACCESS & REPORTING — These tools provide
    a web-based interface for anytime, anywhere access to current investment performance
    for clients. Since most small firms do not have the internal resources to
    provide the necessary security and information infrastructure needed for online
    reporting, this application is almost always outsourced to a third party.
    to be executed with special pads like the signature pads used by many merchants,
    or with digital imaging tools like Logitech’s
    io digital pen and notepad technology. Such tools facilitate
    the conversion of handwriting into searchable text and images that can be
    layered over *.PDF versions of the documents to give an image that looks just
    like a manually completed version of the document that has been scanned.

Article: The Technology of Financial Services