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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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Which areas of operations and technology are most challenging to wealth management firms, and how are custodians and vendors perceived in supporting advisor’s operational needs? This is the main question The Collaborative and Advisors Perspectives answered in a survey of investment advisors and wealth managers conducted in May 2008. The study shows that document management, customer relationship management and portfolio management rank as the top three most problematic system areas, while billing and trading are the least worrisome.

While 83% of respondents rate the overall operations and technology support and systems from their custodian as “excellent” or “very good”, 47% say they their custodian doesn’t support them in any of their top three most problematic areas. Respondents were asked to answer several questions about their three most painful areas of operations and technology, chosen from the following 10 possibilities:

  • Proposal and presentation generation
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
  • Compliance
  • Financial planning
  • Portfolio management (transactions, holdings accounting, performance, etc.)
  • Investment analysis (investment analysis, risk analysis, asset allocation, etc.)
  • Document management
  • Account Aggregation and reporting
  • Billing
  • Trading

Aggregating all responses shows how investment advisors rank their ops and tech concerns:

Investment Advisory Firm

Respondents were asked to rank their top three most troubling operations or systems areas. In compiling the results, we assigned the following weightings:

Ranking of most troubling area








Based on these weightings, document management came in slightly ahead of CRM as the most troublesome area, but in the overall tally (most votes in #1, 2 or 3 ranking) CRM was slightly ahead of document management.

We also asked respondents to identify their biggest unresolved problems in each area they ranked as the most problematic, and the following themes were evident:

Document management

  1. The paper explosion – vast amounts of paperwork required by custodians and regulatory bodies
  2. Having a process that mirrors the firm’s prospect-to-client transition needs, including input to ancillary systems
  3. Having the trained staff – and enough staff -- to organize the vast amount and types of documents, and then get it into a paperless system
  4. Differing formats and documents required by both regulatory agencies and custodians
  5. Perceived cost of imaging equipment and software
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