By Christopher Driscoll, Product Manager, Linedata
Patience has never been a hallmark of the modern age of technology. Instant gratification and access to real-time information is the rule rather than the exception. This applies to all aspects of our daily lives including our shopping, banking, billing statements and appointments. The world of fund accounting and transfer agency is no exception. While slower to adopt, the need for a client and investor facing web portal is no longer a ‘nice to have’ but a requirement for any system offering this technology. Clients and their investors expect the same interaction and user experience that they have in their daily lives. This is driving the need to for a web portal solution across the fund accounting and transfer agency system space.
There are many benefits to web portals, reaching a wide audience. Perhaps most important is direct access to realtime data through the web, allowing investors, portfolio managers and interested parties to see accurate snapshots of up-to-date account information. Investors can quickly and easily view account balances, pending orders, transaction history and prior fund activity. Portfolio managers can directly access and view portfolio activity and reports for all or a subset of the funds under management. Brokers and investment managers can access all of their client accounts through one portal view and then drill down into each investor account for additional detail, eliminating the need to enter multiple account views.
Investor level and portfolio reporting can also be requested by users directly through the portal, eliminating the need for reports to be generated out of the system and subsequently delivered via email – this makes for easy distribution and delivery. Other information including prospectuses, annual reports and periodic performance updates can also be uploaded to the portal for immediate access. Operationally this reduces overhead and decreases mailings and printing costs as well as promoting sustainability.
A Personalized Experience
Web Portals are also fully configurable based on client criteria with drag and drop functionality to tailor it to each client’s needs. They can provide the ability for direct order entry allowing investors to log into their accounts and place orders, eliminating the need to call or mail in these requests. This enhances the user experience, allowing independent management of investments.
The development of web portals has been highly influenced by developments in mobile technology. No longer are we tied to our desks and to our desktop computer at home or in the office. Instead, the proliferation of smart technology in both phones and tablets has made our offices mobile allowing us direct access to our accounts and fund information in real time. Important to this technology is the configurability of the web portal for each type of smart device. For example, access to order entry can be restricted on a smart phone as smaller keyboards may cause a risk to for entry error, but could be available on a tablet that has a larger keyboard for input thus decreasing the odds of incorrect entries.
Keeping It Safe
An essential aspect of any web portal solution is user and site security. A secure web portal will incorporate separation of servers where the portal server resides outside the corporate firewall and can be internet facing while the service layer and the core application are protected inside the firewall and is not internet facing. Additionally, many solutions are required through local and federal regulations to use a second factor level security authentication service to further authenticate access and passwords. Encrypted passwords and https/SSL certificate also insure that the portal layer is secure. This enhanced level of security insures that while the data is accessible to view it is protected from manipulation from outside users. As current events have reported web portal security should be the most important requirement in building out a web portal solution.
As web portals continue to evolve, the functionality will continue to incorporate more and more aspects of the daily activity of fund accounting and transfer agency. The ability to schedule and drive processes through the web will continue to lessen the burden on internal users to create reports, enter orders and deliver information in a sleek and modern format familiar to today’s tech savvy clients and investors. Is there an app for that? If there isn’t yet, there will be soon!