Category: Creating Future Value, Industry Trends

Looking at the Big Picture: Leveraging the power of data


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.

Follow this monthly series by subscribing to Boston Financial’s Perspectives blog.


Data-AnalyticsDo you know how many emails are sent every SECOND? Or how many items are ordered through every MINUTE? Or how many hours the average American spends on their smart phones every DAY?

Brian Melter recently reminded us that consumer behaviors are changing. The net result of this behavior change is the unprecedented volumes of data being generated, stored, and leveraged.

We know from our annual client satisfaction survey that asset managers are eager for analytic capabilities to help them use transaction data to improve distribution and sales strategies. They also want to use data to personalize marketing messages and other aspects of the shareholder experience.

So the question facing the shareholder recordkeeping industry is how to manage and leverage our data to help our clients reach these and other goals? And how do we use the data to help our own businesses make better decisions, reduce risk, and improve efficiency. All without compromising the strict security controls in place to protect shareholder data?

These are big questions that require a thoughtful response. This is why Boston Financial, with its enterprise technology partner DST, is choosing to take a methodical, four-step approach to turning data into value for our business and our clients (Figure 1).

Figure 1: DST's Applied Analytics Group recommends a four step approach to leveraging the power of data.

Figure 1: DST’s Applied Analytics Group recommends a four step approach to leveraging the power of data.

So where are we on this continuum?

Step 1: Strategy

If you’ve ever needed to clean your attic or garage, you know sometimes the hardest part of the job is knowing where to begin. Given the often overwhelming volume of information available, the urgency of asset managers’ needs, and the cybersecurity imperative, developing a strategy for tackling data analytics in our industry can feel the same. At Boston Financial, we’ve handled this by looking at the big picture and (a) understanding what data is accessible across the enterprise, and then (b) identifying which of our clients’ questions might be answered with this data. And then, like you would do with any big project, we are starting small by experimenting with more manageable subsets of data.

Step 2: Getting Data Ready

Back office shareholder record keepers like Boston Financial manage enormous volumes of data. But, by and large, this data is actually owned by clients or their technology providers. Concerns about cybersecurity and market competition make many firms reluctant to share data, even if it were stripped of shareholders’ personally identifying information. In examining the big picture, we’ve identified a need to untangle issues of data ownership and data governance. Until these issues are worked out, our capacity to use aggregated client data for activities like industry benchmarking or comprehensive fraud protection may be limited.

Step 3: Data Insights

At this stage in the development of our analytics strategy, the story being told by our data is that we still have things we need to learn in order to completely satisfy our client’s desire for sales and distribution analytics. For example, we are closely examining subaccounting data to determine how we can help our clients achieve transparency so they can achieve their goals of supporting their intermediaries and the shareholders they service.

We’ve also learned that we need to start building our data analytic capabilities using individual client-data to solve individual client problems. And after more than 40 years of experience, it is clear that this data is best used for (a) improving operational efficiency, (b) reducing risk, and (c) shareholder lifecycle management.

As a result of these insights, we’re moving on to step 4 with small, client-driven projects. For example, we are working with one client to package shareholder demographic data to support segmented marketing efforts by clients to specific demographic groups.

Our experience tells us our emergent data analytic strategy is moving at the right pace because of the complicated questions being raised about ownership, strategy, and security. While we wrestle with these big issues, we are still taking bold steps forward to help our clients efficiently leverage data to gain the competitive edge.


2.9 million emails are sent every second (Source: KPMG Investing in the Future, November 2014).

4,374 items are ordered on every minute (Source: KPMG Investing in the Future, November 2014).

Americans spend an average of 4.7 hours of every day on their smart phones. (Source: The International Smartphone Mobility Report, February 2015).


Read other blog posts in the Creating Future Value series:

The Impact of Megatrends to the Transfer Agent Model

Prepared for Whatever Comes Next: Creating future value in compliance programs

Have It Your Way: Meeting the Needs of Empowered Consumers

Facing Industry Challenges Together

Arthur Dunn

Arthur Dunn

At the end of 2014, Arthur was appointed to the position of Chief Risk Officer for Boston Financial. Since joining Boston Financial in 1981, Arthur has held a variety of operations and relationship management roles for key mutual fund and 529 plan clients. Arthur drove the development of Boston Financial and DST’s operational and systems capabilities to support 529 products. He has also played critical roles in major corporate initiatives including the establishment of IFDS-Toronto and Boston Financial’s joint effort with DST Insurance Solutions to create an Insurance BPO. Most recently, Arthur worked with DST’s Global Insight Group (GIG) to provide domain expertise and to represent business development opportunities for Boston Financial.

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