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Say Goodbye to Signatures on Paper Forms

Stop printing forms and start processing documents electronically with updates from popular technology providers.

Bill Winterberg, 09/12/2013

In today's Digital Age, consumers can accomplish an increasing number of activities completely electronically. For years, investors have been able to open and fund brokerage or investment accounts online with no forms to print out and no checks to send via overnight envelopes. Several institutions are now experimenting with electronic account processing, all from within mobile apps.

But independent financial advisory firms, by and large, are still dependent on paper-based processes to complete many kinds of account-related transactions. Not only do investors and clients find paperwork a hassle to manage, clients accustomed to doing things electronically with other service providers will find the entire practice frustrating.

Thankfully, a number of new developments in electronic form processing and signatures are making their way into the financial advisor marketplace, giving advisors the solutions they need to service clients electronically while simultaneously gaining operational efficiency.

Form Filling Enhancements
One document processing company familiar to many advisors is Laser App, founded in 1995 by financial advisor Ed Beggs and headquartered in Ontario, Calif. The company introduced streamlined form-filling software to the financial-services industry, with a heavy emphasis on the broker-dealer segment because of its large volume of daily form processing.

Laser App® Enterprise, the company's flagship software, requires installation and licensing on a local desktop computer. But last year, the company announced its Laser App® Anywhere solution, an online, HTML-based version of the Laser App Enterprise software that features about 95% of the same functionality found in the desktop version, according to Robert Powell, vice president of sales and marketing at Laser App.

Laser App Anywhere is designed to work on any device running any operating system, so both Windows and Mac OS are supported, as well as mobile devices running iOS and Android. All of the major Internet browsers are supported, too, including Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, and Chrome.

No other vendor has more coverage of institutional and product carrier forms and documents, as Laser App offers just under 30,000 forms in its library from 375 product carriers and 340 broker-dealers. While form-filling software certainly lacks the sizzle of technology like online collaboration software, virtual meetings on tablets, or electronic signatures (more on that later), Laser App is often identified as the backbone of running an efficient back office.

Because of its vast form coverage, Laser App has established integration partnerships with many of the well-known technology providers in the financial advisor marketplace over the last decade. With the release of Laser App Anywhere last year, Laser App has accelerated the pace of integration by bringing on 20 new partners so far in 2013, with more on the way.

Bill Winterberg, CFP, is a technology and operations consultant to independent financial advisors. His comments on technology have been featured in a variety of financial industry publications. You can view more information about Bill and see his schedule of upcoming speaking engagements at his Web site, FPPad.com. The author is a freelance contributor to MorningstarAdvisor.com. The views expressed in this article may or may not reflect the views of Morningstar.

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