Future-proof your finance teams – lessons from wealth- and asset-management businesses

Ben Collins Profile picture for user Ben Collins December 16, 2021
Summary:
Finance leaders are under pressure to develop efficient and innovative ways to deliver higher value while meeting compliance, regulatory and cybersecurity requirements. Sage Intacct's Ben Colins shares three trends businesses need to address, and how to respond.

Hand holding a stacking gold coins and money bag tree with growing in the public park, a saving for future business investment and richness concept © Watchara Ritjan - Shutterstock
(© Watchara Ritjan - Shutterstock)

Within the past two years, financial markets have entered an unexpected and unrelenting period of rapid volatility and transformation that has created greater demands on the leaders of wealth- and asset-management firms.

Consider the pressure on the finance leader — you need to create efficient and innovative ways to deliver higher value to clients. You need to meet rising expectations by delivering digital-centric experiences. And you need to meet increasingly stringent compliance frameworks, regulatory standards, and cybersecurity requirements. Here are the three trends you must be prepared to address in 2022 to meet these goals.

1. The rapid acceleration of digital transformation

In every area of the economy, we're seeing continuous waves of disruption on countless levels - from the COVID-19 pandemic to inflation to supply chain bottlenecks to employment uncertainties. And when you're working with tech-savvy Millennials, digital transformation must be a fundamental requirement for wealth- and asset-management firms. One pillar of digital transformation is simply the ability to deliver a single, digitized source of truth for financial accounts. That positions the firm to scale and deliver better insights and service to clients.

Accurate information must be readily available 24/7 - irrespective of technology systems or databases - to those who must make informed decisions. A modern, flexible financial accounting system can support your firm's current and future digitalization needs.

How to respond

  • Automate and streamline manual financial processes and workflows.
  • Develop financial reporting that portrays the overall health of your business in addition to a clean view of your firm's general ledger data.
  • Access real-time, consolidated dashboard views of financials across funds, customers, locations, assets, or currencies.
  • Benefit from the scalability, collaboration, and workplace/work-from-home flexibility that cloud-based platforms provide.

2. The efficiency mandate

As generational wealth continues to shift, margins continue to shrink. Younger, tech-savvy investors want frictionless investment platforms and technologies that emphasize speed and efficiency. At the same time, a growing number of lower-cost, passive investing vehicles are pushing fees even lower. As a result, wealth- and asset-management firms must build more efficient organizations that rely less upon manual efforts. You need to increase your team's operational efficiency without increasing headcount or layering on additional expenses from third parties to assist with core processes.

How to respond

  • Accelerate your closing processes by automating routine accounting
  • Reduce audit times while providing clear audit trails and direct auditor access to reports.
  • Properly allocate overhead costs across the organization.
  • Manage GAAP compliance and audit trails more effectively across legacy systems.
  • Provide secure, cloud-based access to those who need it, no matter where they work.

3. Evolving cybersecurity threats 

The rising volume and severity of security threats are prompting stricter regulatory oversight of the ways wealth- and asset-management firms store and share personally identifiable information (PII) and other financial data. What's more, large firms aren't the only ones at risk from cybersecurity threats. The fact is, family offices that manage the wealth and assets of ultra-high-net-worth individuals can be an even more attractive target - and face even greater risks. Firms that take a reactive approach - and do only the bare minimum - risk the kind of reputational damage from which they might not recover. By contrast, staying ahead of shifting compliance requirements helps ensure you protect client data - and your firm's reputation - at all times.

How to respond

  • Streamline compliance efforts.
  • Establish and maintain more granular audit trails.
  • Restrict data access through configurable permissions, so people only see the data they need to see.
  • Use cloud-based security protocols and fully redundant servers.
  • Deploy a solution that meets the most stringent of security mandates: SSAE 18 SOC 1 Type II audits performed twice per year; SOC 2 Type II-audited; biometric access controls for production data; and 128-bit encryption for all data transmission.

Conclusion

A modern, cloud-based financial management platform may not solve every challenge, but it's a core piece of the digitalization puzzle. The right accounting platform not only helps you mitigate risks, it helps you prevent them as well.

Future-proofing a business is an ambitious goal, but we can start by eliminating the daily finance scramble. The right financial accounting system puts an end to the daily fires. Your team can stop manually tracking down and standardizing data in Excel. They can stop wasting time on outdated reports. They can stop implementing patchwork security protocols. Instead, they can focus on the strategic analyses - and the value your clients expect and deserve.

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