Monthly Archives: October 2013

Category: CCO Forum, Compliance

Leading the Way to Compliance

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Silhouette Guest SpeakerThis year Boston Financial has been celebrating its 40th anniversary, not only because we are a long standing joint venture between two great organizations, but because we’ve evolved to become what we believe is the best third party transfer agent in the industry.

Think about it! Forty years ago we began servicing a few large well known mutual fund organizations. Today we still support most of those same fund families, and many more. They may have changed their names, added share classes, or acquired other funds, but we’ve grown together.

I started at Boston Financial in 1981 (of course, I was just a child). Compliance with transfer agent rules, tax laws, and fund requirements was handled primarily in the client operations and control departments. Our procedures incorporated controls to satisfy compliance with the regulations and it was management’s responsibility to provide appropriate oversight of them. Eventually we made a decision to create a separate and distinct compliance department to foster the specific knowledge and expertise needed to support our clients in an increasingly complex regulatory environment.

Today, the industry has more regulatory players, not only the SEC and the IRS, but also FINRA, the CFTC, FinCEN and others. In 2004, SEC Rule 38a-1 required mutual funds to hire chief compliance officers (CCOs) responsible for due diligence and oversight of various entities – the fund, the adviser, the intermediaries, and of course the transfer agent. The expectations and responsibilities of the CCO have expanded over the years and now even include monitoring of risk. They have a daunting task, especially with the movement to omnibus and the lack of transparency.

Boston Financial responded to all of these changes by developing a strong compliance program. To further support the CCOs, we began hosting an Annual CCO Transfer Agency Due Diligence Forum many years ago. This year’s Forum will be held on November 13, providing our clients and their CCOs with an opportunity to network and gain valuable information from our Boston Financial team and invited speakers. The theme, “Leading the Way to Compliance,” reflects our commitment to be in the forefront providing solutions that support the risk management and compliance needs of our clients.

It will be interesting to see what the next 40 years brings from a compliance perspective, but I’m sure Boston Financial will still be partnering with our clients to lead the way!

Category: E-Business, Technology

Your Life and Technology

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Brian Melter - Volunteer firefighter for Stone Bank.Many of you may know that I am a gadget aficionado. I like to keep up with the latest trends and gadgets and check them out. Often times, after the initial fanfare is over and the early adopters (or pioneers) grab them, we find out that they aren’t ready for prime time. But, we are up for the bumps, bugs, and updates needed to get them into their final form.

On the gadget roundup piece that I wrote last year I highlighted a great gadget that has gone mainstream; the Nest thermostat. For those who have not heard of it, the Nest thermostat connects via wifi to your home network for remote control capabilities and learns your habits of turning the temperature up and down to save you energy. I bought in and have four Nest thermostats in my home and one at my office in Milwaukee. Since my initial purchase, the Nest II has come out with more features and a thinner profile.

I was a bit surprised this week when I received an e-mail with Nest’s latest product, the Nest Protect, a smoke and carbon monoxide detector. With features such as remote control, spoken alarms,  interconnectivity, and ongoing monitoring, it sounds like a great step for Nest. Thinking about it more, a few things concerned me. Technology is a powerful tool, but in all reality sometimes technology doesn’t work.

Being a firefighter for my local town for the past seven years has taught me that working smoke detectors and an escape plan are the best things families can do to survive a fire in their homes. I am sure Nest Protect can play into that to make some of the annoyances of the smoke detectors of today a bit more livable. They did the same thinking with the creation of their thermostat; totally reinventing something that was a commodity to become a market leader.

The issue here is that now your life will depend on this new reinvention of the smoke and carbon monoxide detector. I know that the Nest Protect has been thoroughly tested and certified, but at the same time, I think about using technology for technology’s sake. Something looking great on paper may lose its luster once you think it through. And at $129/ detector, outfitting your home may not be a cheap undertaking.

It will be interesting to see if Nest Protect hits the market in the same way as their thermostat offering.  My guess is that people may think twice given the price point and the life safety aspects. Technology is a great thing when applied in the right way. In this case, I am not sure it has been.

Category: Associate Development and Engagement

A Table for Leaders

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Leadership highlightedEarlier this week, I was fortunate to have been invited to attend a women’s conference. The key speaker at this event was Betsy Myers, the Founding Director of the Center for Women & Business at Bentley University. Betsy has deep experience in the corporate, political and higher education areas and shared her insight on the evolving nature of leadership.

The timing could not have been more perfect with our management focus on the delivery of the 2013 Associate Survey results and our action plans to address feedback. As we work to implement feedback received in the survey, Betsy’s research provides some insight into what managers can do to keep employees more engaged in the workplace.  Her research suggested that 47% of employees today are disengaged or unhappy and further indicated that “employees do not leave companies, they leave managers.” Betsy explained that genuine leadership is not something that magically happens based on our roles as managers, but is a function of how we treat and connect with the people around us.

The seemingly simple message that a leader can yield positive results by treating people with kindness, patience and listening to them resonated with me. Those who know me know that I love working with people and, as a manager at Boston Financial, I know the importance of my role! Today’s workforce is compromised of many generations; Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and Millennials, to name a few. This diverse workforce has one thing in common; we are all people first and want to feel valued and included.  As leaders, inviting others to the table is a fundamental and basic approach that is available to us in allowing our organization to collaborate and drive goals together.  We are reminded each day when we enter the workplace that kindness and human nature in nurturing our teams is not just a condiment at our table, it’s the core ingredient to our success, both personally and professionally.

Category: Client Forum

The Next 40 Years

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Global communicationJay Hooley has been an integral part of the history of Boston Financial. After leading Boston Financial as our president for 12 years and a former member of our board of directors, it was only fitting to have him open our annual Client Forum celebrating our 40th Anniversary. He spent time reflecting on “Old Home Week” as he called it. Pointing out that it is the people, the talent across our industry, and the purpose that has gotten us to where we are today. But like any transformational leader, he focused his discussion on the future and where we are headed. As he has done every time I have heard him speak, I walked away with a clearer picture of the future.

Where are we? Or maybe more fitting, who are we? Jay’s depiction of where we are today immediately conjured thoughts of big burly Clydesdale horses. We are an economy that is going to have to grind out growth and bear the burden of regulatory reform. And, we have the challenge of changing consumer behavior – investors want to stick with the sure, predicable bet.

So if we are living in a Clydesdale world, what should get us excited?

Although Jay focused on two common trends; globalization and technology, he had a thought provoking spin on each. Most of us have heard about  the array of predications around emerging markets. Time will tell how big the markets will be, but suffice it to say, they will be significant going forward. Jay agreed and offered the idea that these markets will not only provide a return of double digit growth, but they will provide as significant of an opportunity to step in and assist with the ever increasing retirement defined benefits gap that exist worldwide, not just in the US.

Jay then took on technology and explored the concept of the digital revolution. He suggested we all read “Race Against the Machine” in order to get another perspective on how the digital revolution will impact our industry and workforce. He focused on a time where technology will be able to make judgments, i.e. the driverless car. He challenged us to think about what this would do to a workforce.

What is it going to take to succeed? To end the session Jay offered us three pieces of advice for the future. In addition, he outlined the steps State Street is taking to address these critical success factors.

  1. First, know your customer. He suggests we need to go beyond the surface and truly understand what drives the customer.
  2. Second, embrace the digital world. Yes, it can be a scary place, but imagine what insights are possible.
  3. And third, manage your reputation. He suggests that you can come back from a financial loss, but can almost never come back from a reputation one.

At Boston Financial, we could not agree more with Jay’s critical success factors. Our Global Relationship team is focused on understanding the customer and the customer’s customer.  Our technology team is not just focused on what we can do to enhance our core record keeping platforms, we are focused on providing an array of insights to help both us and our clients work more efficiently and with higher quality. And lastly, from our CEO and President, Terry Metzger, and throughout the organization we are focused on our reputation and more importantly preserving our clients’ reputation.

Recipe for Success: Relationships and Constant Communication

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Business HandshakeAt the NICSA General Membership Meeting in Boston, I had the opportunity to speak on a panel with other industry experts about effective intermediary servicing and operating relationships.  Keeping up with both fund and intermediary activities can be challenging, but whether navigating change in the industry landscape or intermediary consolidations, communication and relationships emerged as a key theme for the fund, intermediary and service provider success.  E&Y moderated the panel which was comprised of  distribution, operations, transfer agent and broker dealer representation.

While each panelist represented a different stake in the game, the key theme was the importance of building and maintaining relationships. Relationships are built on experiences, so those report cards, surveys, face to face visits are important and our opportunity to know our customer and find out what’s important to them. The panel unanimously agreed that industry committees are invaluable in  bringing  partners  together to discuss business challenges and steering solutions and working  well and very important to how we solve problems collectively. From all seats, the importance of communication and advance notification was reinforced as the key. At the end of the day, it’s about the successful delivery to the network and end shareholder.

Where can we improve? Assisting our Fund Clients and Intermediaries with the adoption of automated products and best practices. From each point of view,  we have similar goals in reducing costs, mitigating risk and delivering service excellence. If we build it, they will use it!  What’s our takeaway? To keep up with our survey feedback, stay on our road trips, and seize the client engagement opportunities!