Monthly Archives: December 2014

The Best of 2014

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2014 was a big year on the Perspectives blog. We talked about industry trends, we extended the value of various events, we shared a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the culture of Boston Financial, and we had some fun with apps and gadgets.  On the last day of the year, we thought it would be fitting to take a look back at the top five most popular blog posts of 2014…

Industry-Trends-Icon-2-1024x682Distribution. Servicing. Compliance. Analytics. Competition. Where do they stand in 2014?

Kicking-off the New Year, we thought it would be timely to invite some of our senior leaders at Boston Financial to reflect on the key trends and issues affecting the fund industry.  Over the next several weeks, we will use this blog to dive deeper into these trends, and the questions they raise for our clients.  Read more…

Holiday-Gadget--4516335312014 Holiday Gadget Guide

The busiest shopping month of the year is upon us. This week, people will be lining up outside the mall at 5:00am and marking their calendars for the best online sales. Just in time for the big rush, I have once again rounded up this year’s hottest gadgets. From the coffee lover to the traveler to the workout fanatic, you are sure to find something for everyone on your list. Read more…

140057613Not What I Expected…

Recently, when I was asked to attend the NICSA Liquid Alternatives workshop in New Jersey, I was excited for the opportunity. Imagine the disappointment on my face when I found out what they meant by liquid alternatives…call me naïve but if you’re invited to a conference titled “Liquid Alternatives” and your company is sponsoring a cocktail reception, let’s just say it leads you to believe certain things. Read more…

Red-CarThere’s More to Life Than Someone Else’s Dream

It’s a beautiful summer day as I stroll into work through the doors of Audi and Porsche of Westwood. Before I have the chance to say good morning, my manager says, “Get ready, you have to take the red convertible R8 back to Cape Cod this morning.” Read more…

NickDarsch-e1397588330210The 2014 Boston Marathon – Finishing the Race

Last year Nick Darsch ran the Boston Marathon on behalf of Boston Financial, in support of United Way. Because of the events that unfolded that day, he was unable to finish the race. This year, Nick has decided to run again to finish the race. Here are his thoughts on running the 2014 Boston Marathon. Read more…

What was your favorite blog post of 2014? What would you like to hear from us in 2015? Leave a comment to let us know! Thank you all for your loyal readership. We look forward to sharing more Perspectives with you in the coming year.

Category: Associate Development and Engagement, Conferences and Events

Work-Life Integration – Strategies for Success

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Every year a number of Boston Financial associates attend the Massachusetts Conference for Women. Being the largest conference of its kind in the country, the event hosts a number of prestigious speakers and packs a full agenda of educational break-out sessions.

This is the second in a series of blog posts recapping the experiences our associates had at the event.

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Baby on ComputerIt may sound cliché, but when you attend a big event like the Massachusetts Conference for Women, there is something for everyone. The themes that emerge tend to echo the season of life you are in. Two years ago I attended the conference for the first time. I was in my first week at Boston Financial and trying to prove myself in a newly created role of social media community manager. That year the conference fueled my desire to drive organizational change and elevated my knowledge of how to effectively communicate in the workplace.

This year, as a new mom trying to figure out how to integrate my family with my career, the event spoke to me in a different way. I was drawn to a session called Strategies for Success in a Lean-In World. Working at Boston Financial, I am surrounded by working moms every day. (In fact, 60% of Boston Financial’s employees are women.) After listening to five high-powered panelists who have quite literally done it all in their professional and personal lives, I figured I would share the following well-tested advice with all the women from whom I have learned so much…

Keep your top five priorities in check.  Your career is only so many hours of your life. Make a list of the five things that are most important to you. Those are the five things your time should be distributed between. If something comes up that falls outside of your top five, it might not be worth your time. Everyone on the panel had happiness at home at the top of their priority list.

Rely on your support system.  I am not someone who likes to ask for help, but even Hillary Clinton, the most prominent conference keynote speaker, said one cannot succeed without a reliable support system. Whether it is family, friends, colleagues, or outside help, you need a team; people who help you daily and people you can call in a pinch.

Your life is not one chapter. It is a long novel.  You can have it all, but maybe not all at once. What chapter are you in now and what chapter comes next? You need to be self-aware enough to know where you are, and honest and clear enough to know where you want to be in the future.

“There is a time to lean in and a time to ask others to lean in.” In her book Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg urges women to set boundaries and abandon the myth of “having it all”. However, it isn’t that simple. Leaning in may be part of the answer, but it isn’t the whole answer to a fulfilling life. Though your priorities may not change, you may lean in to different priorities during each chapters of life.

After months of wondering if I really could make it all work, this year’s conference reignited my passion for my career and reminded me that I am not alone in the quest for work-life integration. With the strategies for success I took from the session and a supportive workplace like Boston Financial, I feel more confident than ever in my ability to thrive both professionally and personally.

Holiday Cheer from Boston Financial

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“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is to sing loud, so everyone can hear!” – Buddy the Elf

Christmas-Tree---493203935I just finished watching my favorite Christmas movie, Elf.  As Buddy narrated his journey through the seven levels of the candy cane forest and the sea of swirly gum drops, I began to reflect on our endeavors this year at Boston Financial. I am sure you wouldn’t enjoy my singing, so I thought I would take the opportunity to share some thoughts in a Christmas blog post.

Change has always been part of the transfer agency tradition and we saw plenty of it this year. As with most things in our society, the difference today is the velocity of change. This year’s drivers of change included the continued evolution of distribution strategies and the ever present jingle of regulatory legislation. Through these continuous changes, Boston Financial remains focused on ensuring our solutions continue to meet the needs of our customers.

Boston Financial is not alone in facing these business challenges. At times it seems that the entire asset management industry is working toward standardizing, streamlining, and simplifying their business. Beyond the transfer agency, the shift in fees paid to third party record-keepers has prompted many asset managers to reassess their service strategy.  There has been a renewed focus on outsourcing. In 2014, Boston Financial had the opportunity to participate in many conversations on this topic. These discussions have led to several additions to our customer family this year, and several jolly opportunities for next year.

These new business opportunities affirm our belief that our continued corporate focus on offering a high-quality, competitively priced, sustainable business model is paramount to the success of our customers and for Boston Financial. Our offerings are predicated on our core competencies: infrastructure, technology, resource management, institutional knowledge, and relationship management. When we apply these skills in areas that leverage our scale and technology, the results are solutions that are difficult for others to replicate. This advantage is evident in our current product offerings. Some product highlights from this past year include:

  • Regional Recovery Abilities: For years we’ve had the ability to move calls between sites and shared operational functions. Over the past 18 months, our regional recovery abilities have been greatly expanded in the areas of NSCC processing, control, and institutional processing.
  • Blue Sky Servicing: During the second half of 2013, Boston Financial added Blue Sky servicing. Since the introduction of this business last year, our Blue Sky customers have nearly doubled. Clearly, many of our customers share our belief that, given the currently regulatory landscape, the opportunity to bundle Compliance services with a trusted business partner is a compelling business case.
  • Abandoned Property: Customers are extremely focused on asset retention, especially faced with aggressive posture of many states related to escheatment. Even if it does not appear on your holiday wish list, abandoned property will continue to be a hot topic in 2015.
  • Intermediary Payment Administration and Proxy: These offerings also continue to gain traction. Boston Financial has several customers in queue to be on-boarded for Payment Administration and our proxy pipeline for 2015 also looks robust.

Of course, none of this is possible without our customers. If we are going to continue creating and maintaining compelling and sustainable solutions, we need to to understand our customers and ensure that we have a pulse on our clients’ businesses.

Client engagement takes on many forms at Boston Financial: individual meetings and planning sessions; customer events such as our Forums and Webcasts; thought leadership such as our Perspectives blog. We also try to be as active as possible with industry trade organizations, such as the ICI and NICSA.

How do we make sure we are on the right track? That we’re doing the right things? A few years back we changed how we conduct our client survey. The goal was to better understand our customer relationships by gaining insights on our relationship teams, the services we provide, and your challenges. This new survey process has proven to be an excellent mechanism for increased feedback and therefore a useful calibration tool for the ongoing alignment of business strategy to our clients’ needs.

While another busy year is drawing to a close, I hope that everyone has the opportunity to spend quality time with their friends and family during the holiday season.

From everyone at Boston Financial, we hope you have a joyful holiday season and a bountiful start to 2015!

Category: E-Business, Technology

2014 Technology Fails

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Blackberry“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”  -Thomas Edison

While those of us gadget geeks want to believe that every new technology will magically end hunger and cure cancer, some innovations don’t live up to the hype. In 2014, we experienced several technology fails. My favorites are detailed below.

Google Glass
Sadly, I got sucked into the hype regarding Google Glass. After a few months, I hit the limits of its usefulness and functionality. Still waiting to see if it holds water, but the latest crop of wearables from Apple, Samsung and Motorola may prove to be more popular and practical than the Glass. That combined with privacy concerns and the Glasshole stories may mean that Glass may be a niche product at best.

Blackberry
The mighty have fallen and fallen hard. With the latest devices from Blackberry, users found a lackluster experience, poor browsing capabilities and non-intuitive software. Cue the death march and begin the digging….it’s time.

3D TV
With a lot of hype, but not enough titles or players, the allure of 3D TV at home has just never hit its stride. While many TVs still promote it and come with the glasses, no one is really using it to any degree.

Coin
Coin promised to be a single card that, when paired with your smartphone, could “store” up to eight different credit or loyalty cards for use as a payment device. I am in the beta program and have been for about a year. Yet another launch delay means the earliest we’ll see the device is now Spring 2015. Sadly, things like Apple Pay and others may have already dealt the death blow to Coin.

Windows RT
A watered down version of Windows for the original Surface tablet; this was supposed to be the “household” version of Windows for tablets. Thankfully, Microsoft put this operating system out of its misery before too many users revolted against it.

Amazon Fire Phone
Amazon’s first foray into the phone market was a big hit…for its first hour. It is now selling at just $1 (down from $200 at lunch). In a crowded marketplace, even the Amazon brand couldn’t pull this phone above the fray. With a closed app ecosystem, a “blah” user experience, and gimmicky cameras providing a 3D-like experience, there just wasn’t enough for consumers to take a chance on something outside of the Apple, Samsung, HTC, Motorola, and LG circles. For a company with many hits under its belt (think Kindle), this was a huge fail.

There is no harm in calling out these technology fails, because today’s bad idea could emerge as tomorrow’s shiniest new toy. Consider, for example, that CNN is reporting that Ford Motor Company is dumping Microsoft OS for Blackberry’s QNX OS in the Sync 3 infotainment consoles in their 2016 model cars.

Stay tuned to Perspectives blog to find out what other 2014 flops will show up in the winners’ circle in 2015.

Category: Financial Intermediary Administration, Technology

Cybersecurity, Intermediary Oversight Hold Their Ground for 2015

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BoardroomIn today’s data-driven economy and device-toting world, data is everywhere. So no matter whom you are, what industry you’re in, you’re part of the data marketplace-and so are the cyberattackers.

In 2014, cybersecurity incidents reported worldwide have reached 42.8 million, an increase of 48 percent from last year according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey. When it comes to addressing these threats, what does your firm need to consider?

Cybersecurity was one of the featured topics at KPMG’s Mutual Fund Session recently held in New York. Doreen Norako, Chief Information Security Officer at Brown Brothers Harriman, led a discussion on the changes in the cybersecurity landscape and reviewed the strategic and tactical considerations for an effective cybersecurity program. External data monitoring, perimeter security, and prevention incident response were some of the key components cited for delivering integrated protection. Norako also emphasized training and awareness.

Security awareness plays a large role in Boston Financial’s information security program along with security policies and standards and risk mitigation and assessment. Our risk assessment process includes a detail review of vendors that includes a tier ranking to reflect the level of risk. Norako noted that firms should be reviewing their top service providers and working with auditors and risk groups to create appropriate metrics.

In addition to cybersecurity, the KPMG session also featured a panel on intermediary oversight, which I, along with industry experts from Wells Fargo, Prudential, and a retired partner from Deloitte & Touche participated on.

I’ve written that intermediary oversight continues to be a hot topic in the industry; our panel agreed. One of the topics the panel focused on was oversight procedures and best practices of an effective intermediary oversight program. We emphasized the need to apply a risk based analysis on intermediary agreements. Some of the questions you should be asking include:

  • Are payments disclosed adequately?
  • Are responsible parties doing services they’re contracted for?
  • Are services duplicative of anything contracted for?
  • Are distributions related?

The panel also examined the role of the board and their involvement with intermediary oversight. Typical board oversight involvement includes understanding what intermediaries do and what intermediaries are used. Because of the evolving nature of the intermediary and regulatory landscape, boards rely on CCOs and director’s counsel for guidance. Therefore, firms need to have a good grasp of the needs of their boards. Yet, the needs of the boards are often in flux. In this environment, it can be challenging for firms to find the right balance, a topic featured at a recent ICI conference.

The panel also reviewed the results from a recent Boston Financial survey on intermediary oversight. The survey found over 96 percent of respondents thought their fund company’s need to manage financial intermediary oversight will increase over the next three years.

Survey findings also showed that firms don’t rely on one tool and must complement their oversight program with various tools tailored to each intermediary. With the SEC focus on intermediary oversight continuing to grow, boards increasing their education in this area, and intermediary oversight requirements not decreasing, firms must continue to evolve their program.

Thank you to KPMG for inviting me to participate in their Mutual Fund Session. The session facilitated a great exchange of ideas. I have no doubt that cybersecurity and intermediary oversight will continue to be hot topics in 2015.