Thought leadership is more than marketing jargon at Boston Financial. For us, thought leadership tells the story of what we think about changes in the industry, and what we are doing about them.
Boston Financial’s Creating Future Value series is discussing how we are responding to industry megatrends by moving away from the classic, transaction-driven transfer agent model in favor of a smart servicing model that positions clients for growth in the changing economy.
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We live in a society that moves quickly. Information is available from a variety of channels on TV, our tablets, phones, wearable devices and more. Whether you’re ordering food for delivery, moving money at your bank, depositing a check, researching a new purchase, or buying a pair of shoes, the expectation is that you can securely do what you want to do, on a device that you choose, whenever you want. And every time these online transactions are executed well, you feel empowered by your devices and the experience.
What is also happening is that an expectation is being set that every digital transaction should be fast, simple and satisfying.
The financial services industry knows that the bar has been set high – by your “do-everything” search engine, your favorite online shoe store, your virtual travel agent, your bank, even your insurance company. We also know that, unlike online retail, our industry is highly regulated with many safeguards to keep assets safe and secure.
Playing in this space isn’t easy, but at Boston Financial, we’ve done some great things to bring our online product solutions up to date with the expectations of the empowered consumer in the digital age in mind. This has been accomplished through redesigns of existing secure websites, increasing the number of functions and information available online, and making secure sites mobile-friendly – all with a modern user experience. The driving factors in developing these capabilities were to (a) make it easier for our clients’ investors to do business with the fund company, (b) increase brand perception, and of course, (c) meet and exceed shareholder expectations.
Given the regulations in the industry, some transactions still require the human touch. We are working hard to bring some transactions that require documents, forms, medallion guarantees, and other requirements into the 21st century. Our online bank verification process is a great example of learning from what is being done by online banks, Google Wallet, PayPal, eBay, and others, then applying it to the mutual fund industry. The result is an online, self-service bank verification process that will meet the self-service demands and expectations of our clients’ shareholders.
The best back office solutions are modular, meaning they may be adapted to meet multiple needs. They are also scalable, meaning they expand or contract with the needs of the client. What’s next for Boston Financial is turning our digital lens inward and adapting our 21st century digital capabilities for internal use. We’ve spent considerable time, effort, and research in creating e-business tools that are simple to use – bridging multiple systems with modern interfaces. We are now analyzing how we can apply the technologies and user experience research to make improvements to other internal business processes and more importantly, help our associates better serve fund company shareholders and advisors.
The transfer agent industry is often criticized for being slow to adopt new technologies. For good reason, as complex regulations intended to protect shareholders’ assets are not keeping pace with the digital evolution. Most of us in the industry have tackled the low hanging fruit – simple transactions that can be securely managed through self-service Web portals. The next phase invites us to look beyond the easy processes and develop secure and compliant solutions that offer consumers opportunities to grow and protect their assets both on their terms and at every step of their relationship with their fund company. This type of planning is already being done in some sectors of the financial services space, and it’s our job to push, pull, and drag this work into the transfer agent side of business. From every angle, this is smart servicing in the 21st century.
Read other blog posts in the Creating Future Value series: