New DCIO Reporting Available

Historically, the DCIO channel has proven to be one of the most difficult as it relates to easily reporting transactional data.    Due to a lack of standardization by DCIO record-keepers, this disparate data has been a challenge to fully integrate into existing sales reporting systems.

Over the past year, we have been working towards building new interfaces to automatically load DCIO record-keeper data files into MARS.    As a result of our efforts, our clients can now leverage any one of 14 record-keeper interfaces to load transactional data into MARS.  This allows sales to be reported at the underlying firm, office and rep level as well as providing visibility to the underlying plan details.

Based on the breadth and depth of our experience with transactional data files, we were confident we could provide a solution for our clients.  We now offer the capability for our clients to load these files and incorporate the details similarly to how traditional sub-accounting data is loaded and incorporated into reporting today.  This provides asset management firms the ability to perform analysis on trends and sales growths at a more granular level.  Advisor sold plans will be included in the advisor’s total book of business and firm level reporting will also include this business segment.  Having plan level details included allows clients to leverage existing MARS pipeline functionality to track potential business and correlate it to corresponding new business.

Over the coming months we will continue to add to our library of  DCIO record-keeper interfaces and we can add new DCIO record-keeper interfaces as required by our clients.

This summer, in conjunction with the upcoming release of MARS version 9, we will be introducing our new Institutional module.  This module will provide more functionality specifically related to the DCIO space.  Two examples included in this module are:

  • Tracking Consultants’ pipeline activity;
  • Consultants’ sales reporting for plans across record-keeping systems.

Additionally with Version 9, clients will be able to take advantage of the compelling MARS v9 visual analytics functionality leveraging all reporting channels, including DCIO.

Our overall intent and goal is to continue to provide our clients with solutions to existing challenges, and based on the recent work done with DCIO data files, we’re confident your firm will benefit from our most recent project.

MARS V9 Advanced Visual Analytics

The Adoption of FinTech Distribution Data Solutions by Dave Halligan

Fee compression, expense reduction, the preponderance of lower cost products, and a more educated and cost conscious consumer have been disruptors for mutual fund firms for several years.  The mutual fund industry is not alone as it relates to disruptors.  Brick and mortar stores have been displaced by Amazon, Taxi services are in much less demand due to ride services such as Uber and Lyft, and if you know what a travel agent is, you are dating yourself.  Each one of these examples shares a common theme in that their displacement or disruption was due to an advance in technology, creating an ease of use for the end consumer.

The mutual fund industry has certainly made great strides in how the end consumer can purchase their product.  Long gone are the days of mailing or faxing an account registration, processed by the transfer agent, now replaced with online account forms and a multitude of online brokers offering hundreds of mutual funds.  The advisors have similar technologies in place to purchase mutual funds for their clients on the myriad of distribution platforms.  However, I would argue that mutual fund distribution groups have lagged in their adoption of the most efficient technologies and services available to them today.

Distribution data for mutual funds is spread across multiple platforms and sources creating quite a challenge for firms to normalize aggregate and utilize this data.  Ultimately, distribution groups need to provide actionable intelligence to their end consumer, the wholesaler and/or specialist that is engaging with advisors on a daily basis.  It is too often the case that these strategic resources do not have all the data provided to them in a clear, concise format.  In today’s app lifestyle, shouldn’t a wholesaler be able to open an app, type an advisor’s name and get all the recent sales and asset data as it relates to your firm?  Some firms do have these technologies in place, most do not.  Why?  It’s not a simple solution.

Mutual fund firms have multiple, disparate data sources as it relates to distribution.  Through the years, many firms have built internal processes to cleanse and aggregate this data and present it in the CRM, thus providing their distribution team with some actionable intelligence.  However, with the advent of ‘Big Data’ and a desire to add multiple data points, firms now look to add market share, and prospecting data as examples.  This creates a need to manage additional data sources and enrich it along with the sales and asset data.  Are mutual fund firms staffed and resourced to perform these tasks, or should they focus on their areas of expertise?

A fair amount of mutual fund firms have robust operations and IT groups that welcome projects such as these.  I have worked with and spoken with firms that have built impressive systems and applications that provide an end to end solution for their distribution sales team.  However, they are clearly in the minority.   The majority of mutual fund firms struggle with how to create an efficient and cost effective  way to gather, cleanse, aggregate, process, summarize, and deliver these various data sets.  For example, many firms have adopted a very popular CRM platform over the past several years.  Once a mutual fund firm implements this CRM platform, how do they get all the distribution, market share, and prospecting data loaded into it?  They hire an implementer to design the platform specifically for their business needs.  Some firms have budget for this, most do not.  This is an example of adding an expense on top of an expense, while trying to create efficiencies.

Creating efficiencies should ultimately reduce expenses.  Hiring a vendor that specializes in FinTech distribution technologies and services should take the burden off your internal resources allowing them to focus on their true areas of expertise.  When speaking with asset management firms, I am no longer surprised to learn that many senior management staff are tasked with researching and tracking down transactional information, or that wholesalers are walking into an advisor’s office not knowing what history that advisor has had with their firm.  These examples illustrate a far too common and current challenge for mutual funds firms today.  Solutions exist for these challenges, and some of the solutions utilize the cutting edge technology we have come to depend on in our everyday life.  Then why aren’t the majority of mutual fund firms utilizing some of the FinTech distribution data solutions available today?

Moving from embedded, legacy processes and systems requires time and resources, most of which are scarce in today’s cost cutting environment.  However, being able to see past the initial change and disruptions, firms that do implement technologies and services related to distribution data will soon reap the benefits.  They will no longer rely on older, out of date, legacy systems and processes and will be able to reallocate those precious, internal resources. The ability to ascertain sales data and intelligence on a specific firm, office, and/or advisor should be easy based on the data available.  It’s certainly not a simple process to provide that data, but it can be made easier with the FinTech data distribution solutions in today’s marketplace.

Investment Company Institute (ICI) Membership Meeting

Another ICI conference is in the books.

This year, we had the pleasure of our colleague Miriam Sanchez (MARS Training and Client Education) joining Jill Santandreu (Director of Professional Services), Aaron Wong (MARS Product Manager), and me.   Miriam has tremendous experience with our Client Training and Education Programs as well as our Data Stewardship and new Unify Registered Rep Database services.

I always enjoy attending the ICI conference as it affords me the opportunity to speak with current clients, prospective clients, and fellow industry colleagues.  In addition to that, the panels and keynote speakers are always of the highest caliber.  I had the opportunity to sit in on panels on global trends from the perspective of three leading chief investment strategists, a policy discussion with General Stanley McChrystal, and keynote lunch discussion with GE’s CEO, Jeff Immelt.   Each of these sessions was informative, educational, and at times entertaining.

We at SalesFocus Solutions consider ourselves very fortunate in that we have several clients that are representative of the speakers and their associated firms at ICI.  As we continue to enhance the suite of MARS products and services, it is the one-on-one interaction with the ICI membership to discuss industry trends and strategic insights that is integral to our continued growth and success.

Dave Halligan, Director of Sales and Client Account Management

http://salesforce.cioreview.com/vendor/2016/mars_sales_focus_solution

CIOReview Magazine features SalesFocus Solutions as one of the 20 most promising Salesforce solution providers in 2016

 

The September 2016 edition of CIOReview Magazine highlights SalesFocus Solutions’ leadership in enhancing the value Salesforce CRM for asset management firms who are struggling with typical industry challenges such as:

 

  • Aggregating large volumes of sales and asset data from many disparate sources;
  • Maintaining data accuracy and integrity;
  • Managing and reporting on complex distribution channels and sales territories;
  • Performing advanced analysis of sales and asset information combined with Salesforce CRM data; and
  • Obtaining granular ETF sales reporting across all data sources.

For more information, here’s the link to the CIOReview article: http://salesforce.cioreview.com/vendor/2016/mars_sales_focus_solution

ICI Conference May, 2016

SalesFocus Solutions enjoyed participating in last week’s ICI GMM conference.  The ICI continues to be a great venue to connect with clients and industry colleagues and to discuss how our MARS product suite can overcome some of the business challenges that asset management firms face today.   

As an example, Our ETF reporting solution has received a lot of attention from firms struggling with ETF distribution reporting challenges because it solves the industry-wide problem of ETF data aggregation and normalization and helps firms better position themselves in the marketplace. 

At the conference we talked with many individuals who were interested in the various aspects of our products and services including: 

•  Distribution Reporting for all product lines:  Mutual Funds, Managed Accounts, ETFs, & Retirement/Insurance Products;

•  Competitive Market Intelligence, RIA, & Marketing Data Integrations;

•  Advanced Sales and Marketing Analytics, including Cross-sales Analysis;

•  Data Cleansing & Data Quality Improvement;

•  Innovative Mobile Apps;

•  Industry-specific CRM or Salesforce® Integration with our Sales Reporting and Advanced Analytics system; and

•  SEC Rule 22c-2 and Prospectus Compliance Management. 

We look forward to the new relationships and contacts that came out of this meeting and look forward to doing it all over again next year!

 

 

Data Insights

I had the distinct privilege to participate on a panel at the recent 4th Annual Mutual Fund & ETF Distribution Summit in Boston on April 26th.  The topic of our panel was Effective Wholesaling Methods.  The panel had a good mix of representatives from research, asset management, and vendor solution firms.

Reliability on data is a common theme when discussing effective wholesaling methods and how best to execute on those strategies.   Enabling wholesalers with strategies and tools is only as good as the underlying data.  In today’s world, ‘Big Data’ has become its own marketing campaign, but we feel our most successful clients are the ones who focus specifically on ensuring the data they do have is accurate and reliable.  When there is confidence in the data, the sales team can execute on the strategies using the tools provided to them.  They spend less time sifting, sorting, and combing through data and more time focused on cultivating relationships and selling product.

Many of our clients have a Master Data Management (MDM) strategy.  The transactional data that resides in MARS is an integral part of the overall MDM strategy.  In additional to the sales and asset transactional data, these clients also leverage MARS to integrate 3rd party data from Market Intelligence sources and RIA data subscriptions.  Leveraging our team to cleanse, resolve, aggregate, and integrate these additional data sources produces a centralized location to house and access this information.  In the end, this allows our clients to decide how they want to marry and package this data along with other relevant information such as marketing, research and product material so they can deliver a clear concise package to their wholesalers allowing them to execute on their sales strategy.

In the end, the importance of leveraging the data you have, ensuring it is clean, accurate, and reliable will be the cornerstone to any effective and successful sales strategy.

Dave Halligan

 

The Benefits of Attending Client Off Site Meetings

One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is being able to interact directly with the end users of our MARS products and services.  Over the past few months, I have had the opportunity to attend three clients’ annual sales meetings to review our current products and services and get invaluable feedback from the people who depend on these products and services every day.  When I present and review newly released features, I am always impressed by the depth of knowledge our clients have for our products and how they continually make suggestions to help us improve the product, thus allowing them to be more successful at their jobs.  One of the fringe benefits of being at these meetings is when more experienced and savvy users of our web and mobile apps share their insight, tips, and knowledge with their colleagues.  I’ve often heard comments like, ‘Wow, I didn’t know you could get that information so easily on the mobile app’ and ‘Having access to this on the road is a game changer!’.  These quotes are straight from some of our wholesaler clients and are not coming from our Marketing department.  I don’t often get the chance to spend significant and meaningful time with all our end users, but when I do, it’s truly a mutually beneficial experience.  We always come away from these meetings with changes and enhancements that we implement that benefit all our clients.  More importantly, these meetings are an opportunity for us to enhance and build on the strong relationships we have cultivated over the past 16 years.

Inside ETFs and NICSA Strategic Leadership Forum Conferences

“I thought MARS was just a CRM”  – this was what one of the attendees at the NICSA Strategic Leadership Forum said to me after we had a lengthy discussion of all of the products and services offered within the MARS suite.  He was pleasantly surprised to learn that MARS was much more than a CRM.  MARS is actually an acronym for “Marketing and Reporting Sales”.  Yes, we have our own native, industry-specific CRM that many of our clients utilize, but they are also using MARS because of the dynamic and flexible sales and asset reporting system that integrates with the CRM.  We also have clients that use our Salesforce bi-directional integration, along with other clients that use MARS as a stand-alone Distribution Reporting and/or 22c-2 Compliance Management System.

We are always looking to enhance and improve our product suite offering as is evidenced by the advanced data visualization and analytics capabilities in our mobile solutions and also with our full service data stewardship offering – which firms can take advantage of to improve data quality and reduce costs whether or not the firm is using our MARS system.  Most recently, our innovative ETF data aggregation and reporting solution has received a lot of attention from firms struggling with ETF Distribution reporting.

Over the past two weeks, SalesFocus Solutions enjoyed participating in ETF.com’s Inside ETFs conference and NICSA’s 2016 Strategic Leadership Forum.  These conferences were both great venues to discuss how MARS can help asset management firms gain efficiencies, cut costs, and increase AUM.   At NICSA’s Strategic Leadership Forum, we moderated a panel discussion with industry experts on “Overcoming ETF Distribution Data Challenges.”   The NICSA conference was a good venue to exchange information with firms about the reporting challenges many ETF providers are facing and how our MARS product solves some of their key business needs.

For more information on how MARS can help your firm, please contact Dave Halligan @ dhalligan@sfsmars.com or 978.473.0350

Inside ETFs Conference

SalesFocus Solutions is looking forward to attending this year’s Inside ETF’s conference on January 24-27 in Hollywood, Florida.   We are also proud to be recognized by the conference sponsor as an Innovative FinTech company for our MARS system which provides a comprehensive ETF distribution data aggregation and reporting solution.  Our MARS ETF solution allows our clients to better position themselves in the marketplace by:

  • Aggregating and normalizing data from all ETF data sources;
  • Reconciling ETF data to obtain information at the most detailed level;
  • Standardizing ETF data for reporting purposes;
  • Integrating Competitive Market Intelligence, RIA, & Marketing Data; and
  • Providing insights into potential new ETF sales opportunities.

If you are planning on attending this year’s Inside ETFs conference, please stop by to see us in the Innovative Fintech Firm area to learn more about our MARS ETF distribution data reporting solution.