November 22, 2013

Doug Winters, Seismic
Doug Winters, Seismic

From customer relationship management software to high frequency trading algorithms, the finance industry has become one of the world's more automated industries. But technology that enhances one-on-one client experience has remained elusive. This is particularly apparent in the asset management industry, where a bottleneck at the point of content creation is slowing down the pace at which entire firms can scale in a business model that still relies heavily on human interaction.

Stuck at the First Step

The content bottleneck starts in the marketing department, runs through compliance, and leaves its fallout in the hands of client relationship managers. Asset management firms have the opportunity to enhance their client relationships, but in order to do this relationship managers need access to accurate, personalized content.

Take quarterly investment reviews, for example. The work from the marketing and compliance teams to pull together the performance and benchmark data in a polished presentation can take weeks. The reputation of the firm's brand is paramount when assembling the charts, graphs and performance benchmarking. There is little room for error.

Additionally, compliance must be heavily involved, reviewing every slide in painstaking detail to ensure that the right disclosures are attached to the proper products and charts. Again, the risk to the brand and reputation of the firm depends on these activities so while the time spent appears justified, the process remains inefficient.

At the end of the day, relationship managers can only move at the speed of the bottleneck. They aren't free to book meetings until marketing and compliance are done. By re-thinking the role of technology in the presentation process however, asset management firms will see that these constraints can be removed.

Uncorking the Bottleneck

How can asset management firms free up more time for marketing and compliance, so that relationship managers aren't constrained by activities on the back-end? The answer is the same as so many other segments of the financial industry. Namely, find out what can be automated. There are a few places to start.

1. Let software find content for you. It's easy to find information outside of your company -- between Google and Wikipedia, it takes a fraction of a second to find whatever you are looking for. When it comes to information within your firm, however, siloes still reign supreme. In order to find updated, timely data for a presentation, a marketer might have to sift through emails, CRM software, Zillow and MorningStar. Finding an application that can sift through all those places at once can save hours of hunting.

2. Get compliance out of the way early. The established presentation-making process puts compliance smack in the center of a manual process. Compliance team members must approve every single presentation slide before it can be shipped to the relationship department. Think about getting compliance involved earlier in the process: for example, by approving entire templates in advance and linking disclosures to products. That way, when marketing pulls a report, all of the right disclosures are automatically included in the presentation.

3. Let relationship managers access reports on any device. When relationship managers can bring up reports on their tablets and phones, they save themselves a trip to the desk or back to the office. This effectively enables relationship managers to run to as many meetings as they can, spending more time one-on-one with customers. Freed from the shackles of waiting, relationship managers can both further relationships with existing clients and build new ones.

With the right technology, the bottleneck moves down the line. The biggest challenge becomes not how much content a department can create within a set period of time, but the number of client meetings a firm can schedule. And that's not a bad problem to have.

About The Author: Doug Winter serves as Chief Executive Officer and founder of Seismic, the only platform that enables LiveDoc creation for brand-approved, real-time enterprise content management. Doug previously co-founded Objectiva Software Solutions, which was acquired by EMC Document Sciences in 2004. Doug was a VP and General Manager at Document Sciences until founding Seismic in 2010. He holds a MSEE and an MBA from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a BSEE from Virginia Technological University.