Cloud-based document management services aren't new, but the leading provider of on-premises software for advisors is expanding its offering with a new online service.
Attend any advisor conference or read any advisor trade publication (including this column) and one topic emerges to dominate the discussion: the cloud. Advisors have more options than ever to leverage the cloud, loosely defined as any service delivered over the Internet, including applications such as CRM, portfolio management, and financial planning software.
However, when it comes to document management applications, advisors have few choices for moving such a robust program off of their local server infrastructure and into the cloud. Such applications maintain a large number of documents of all types and sizes organized under complicated taxonomies and filing structures, and transferring large volumes of data over the Internet negatively affects speed and performance of the system.
Laserfiche, a leading provider of on-premises document management software for financial advisors, is tackling the challenges of delivering document management over the cloud by offering an optimized version of its enterprise application to the financial services industry.
From Desktop to Cloud
Laserfiche has a long history among financial advisors; the company specifically dedicated resources to the financial services industry more than 10 years ago. According to Tim Welsh, president of Nexus Strategy and consultant for the company, Laserfiche now has over 4,000 financial services installations worldwide allocated across various banks, credit unions, broker-dealers, registered investment advisers, and other financial institutions. Laserfiche document management software was cited as the top on-premises solution among advisors, selected by 10% of the 3,200 participants in the 2011 Financial Planning Magazine Technology Survey.
Still, the overwhelming majority of advisors use no document management software, and two drawbacks of the on-premises model might explain the lack of adoption. First, purchasing on-premises software such as Laserfiche Avante (the version for 100 users and fewer) can require a sizable initial investment, including a multi-thousand-dollar SQL Server license and individual user licenses priced at $500 each. Second, the typical advisory firm often incurs additional IT administration costs to configure and maintain servers needed to support the application.
By offering a cloud-based version of its software, Laserfiche aims to minimize the drawbacks of the on-premises model and offer a capable yet cost-effective solution to the financial services industry.
Laserfiche sells its product through a global reseller program, and as this column goes to press, two resellers provide the cloud-based solution for the financial services market. Datamax of Texas offers CloudWise™ Content, and One Source Document Solutions in Greensboro, N.C., offers AdvisorsData. This column highlights the AdvisorsData product, but there is no functional difference compared with CloudWise Content.
Founded in 1994, One Source Document Solutions first offered document management solutions in 1996 and became a Laserfiche reseller in 2001. According to Kevin Smith, president and CEO of One Source Document Solutions, target industries include the local government and financial services sectors; in the latter category, the company serves approximately 185 firms representing over 4,000 users.