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 has discussed 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. Read the entire series here.
The term “transfer agent” evokes images of shareholder recordkeeping, transaction processing, phone servicing, and possibly even document movement in plastic bags (if you’ve been in the industry since the 1980s). There was a time when a fund company was able to make a relatively simple decision to either perform these functions with its own employees or to hire a company like Boston Financial to handle some or all of these tasks.
But our industry is changing, and the classic definition of a transfer agent is no longer good enough to encompass the functions that a mutual fund service company must perform (or outsource). In addition to the functions of the legacy transfer agent, today’s service company must also manage multiple sub-TA relationships, provide shareholder service across a wide range of media, and ensure that all activities remain compliant within the ever-changing regulatory environment. To remain viable as an outsourcer of these functions, a third party transfer agent must also be ahead of the curve in anticipating what fund companies will require both tomorrow and in five years.
Boston Financial has been thoughtfully analyzing the most recent industry megatrends to understand their impact on our clients and our business. We’ve identified five disruptive trends any shareholder and intermediary servicing business needs to be prepared for if they are to be successful in helping clients manage the challenges of the industry:
Demographic stressors: Marketplace competition and diversity among the investor population is contributing to the emergence of niche investment products with more targeted demographics and higher risk. This is coupled with a need for more highly segmented shareholder marketing and service channels.
Rise of the intermediary: The upsurge in subaccounting means that intermediaries have become both valued clients and vendor partners subject to intense regulatory scrutiny. Balancing these relationships has become much more challenging and fraught with increased costs and risk.
Rapid evolution of technology: Technological innovation is both enabling and disrupting the way we do business. Digital capabilities must be rapidly and securely expanded to better serve the end client and the intermediary, while still remaining focused on improving internal efficiencies and capitalizing on data analytics.
Shareholder and advisor behaviors and expectations: The combination of demographic stressors and the evolution of technology is contributing to consumer demand for an increasingly personalized experience with their service providers – on the Web, on the phone and in person. Transfer agents and their clients must be better at leveraging data to provide individualization without compromising data security.
Regulatory scrutiny and complexity: The pace and scope of regulatory reform in today’s political environment is unprecedented. In addition to being prepared for changes in processing and reporting rules, a smart transfer agent should also look at the landscape holistically so they can anticipate and educate clients about future reform.
Over the past several weeks in Perspectives, Boston Financial has shared our current view on each of these five trends. In some cases, we’ve described how products and services either in production or being developed are helping us address a specific requirement. In others, where our path forward may currently be uncertain, we remain committed to staying in front of the need and making the right investment at the right time to ensure that we’re ready before our clients are faced with the new challenge.
So, if you’re a regular reader of Perspectives, you now know our, um, perspective on these trends. If you’re not caught up, please visit the archive and read the other articles in this series.
We’re now extending our discussion to our clients and other readers. Using the comment box below, please share your thoughts about how these trends are impacting your business. Do you agree or disagree with our views and assumptions? Are you seeing other trends that weren’t discussed in this series? You can also contact either me at firstname.lastname@example.org or your Boston Financial relationship manager to set up a more personal discussion. We look forward to hearing from you soon as we jointly redefine the role of the “transfer agent” in the next decade.
Read other blog posts in the Creating Future Value series: