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Research results: Document Management, CRM
and Portfolio Management are the most
challenging systems areas for wealth managers

July 15, 2008
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The portfolio management system used the most was Advent, by far (primarily AXYS, but some APX users and one Geneva responded). Again illustrating the marketing challenge faced by vendors, the second most-used “system” is Excel spreadsheets, with Schwab’s Portfolio Center coming in third. Fidelity was a distant fourth. Advent’s dominance in this arena is reaffirmed in the answer to “who’s the best”, as AXYS was cited by 31% of those responding with Schwab’s Portfolio Center a distant second at 5%. The news for Advent was not all good – several comments indicated undefined dissatisfaction with the quality of Advent’s offerings.

Custodian support in ops and tech

In each of the three most problematic areas selected, respondents were asked several questions about their custodian. The five most-cited custodians were 1) Fidelity, 2) Schwab 3) Ameritrade 4) Pershing and 5) Merrill Lynch. 

When asked “In general, how would you rate the Ops & Tech support and systems you get from your custodian?” custodians received generally high marks, 27% saying “excellent” or “very good”, 49% saying “good” and only 6% saying “very poor” or “terrible”:

Ops and Tech Support

Respondents were asked if their custodian supported them for all of their top 3 ops and tech needs. For the top 5 custodians, the answers were:

 

No

Yes

d/n

Fidelity

40%

32%

27%

Schwab

49%

35%

16%

Ameritrade

57%

25%

18%

Pershing

48%

35%

17%

Merrill Lynch *

0%

88%

13%

* Only Merrill Lynch advisors cited the firm as their custodian.

Operations and technology concerns vs. others

But how does ops and tech rank against other areas crucial to being a successful wealth management firm? Respondents were asked to rank-order seven areas crucial to the success of an investment advisory business. New business development was the runaway leading concern, with ops and tech coming in second:

  1. New business development
  2. Operations and technology, and its effective deployment
  3. Managing firm growth
  4. Product and service development and differentiation
  5. Marketing (positioning, public relations, collateral, website, etc.)
  6. Human resources
  7. Building transferable value (valuation, succession planning, M&A)

 

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