Wescott recently undertook the development and launch of our cloud-based client portal, myWescottVault™. As we thought about the essential functionality and utility of our offering, we became part of the ongoing conversation in the financial services industry, a tug-of-war between convenience and safety. One side advocates the absolute necessity of these platforms, branding them as effective ways to store and share information.  On the other, a concerned group cautions people about the dangers of placing sensitive data into locations where it could be stolen.  Both sides have a point: technology is critical to our evolution. However, users need to understand the inherent risks and how-to mitigate them.  We believe that we have successfully achieved a balance of several key characteristics, blending protection and practicality.  Below are the four characteristics that we believe every financial technology solution must have:

1.  Security

Inadequate security renders even the best technology platforms useless in the financial world.  There is a reason that the two major financial governing bodies, the SEC and FINRA, each have such stringent requirements regarding financial firms’ tech offerings.  The requirements are so strict that some of the world’s most popular services weren’t approved for use in finance until recently.  You need to make sure the platform you use meets all industry standards and handles all sensitive information safely.  Security alone may not drive you directly to a particular platform or solution, but a lack of proper security measures should definitely drive you away.

2.  Simplicity

No matter the use, technology’s main purpose is to simplify your life.  The best client-facing financial solution aggregates all accounts into one view that becomes the center of your financial world.  This includes accounts held through a wealth management firm, in addition to third-party accounts like employer-sponsored retirement plans, bank accounts, illiquid investments and even mortgages and insurance policies.  Beyond aggregation, you should make sure that you are able to easily see and review pertinent financial information and track it against the goals that you and your advisor have strategically outlined.  We designed myWescottVault™ to be the central point for our clients’ personal financial information, while helping them understand their finances in the process.

3.  Accessibility

As recently as 10 years ago, the way to successfully navigate a family transition – death or divorce, for example – was through a file cabinet.  Documents were delivered by mail, or fax, and the hard copy was stored in one of those metal boxes.  It would not open without the key, no matter how hard you pulled.  It was a triumph for security, but a total failure for accessibility.  Information could be viewed only in one location; thus, it was difficult to quickly communicate about anything related to the family’s finances in the event of a sudden transition.  We no longer live in that world.  Not only should technology safely simplify finances, it should allow multiple generations of your family and the family’s financial advisor to access and share that information by computer or mobile app when appropriate.  That makes a significant impact on estate, legacy and philanthropic planning for any investor and their family.

4.  Adaptability

Technology means different things to different people, and should be treated as such.  There is no one-size-fits-all solution because users have a variety of needs.  Technology platforms, especially those related to personal finance, need to be personalized and capable of customization and re-customization as investors become more comfortable with the platform, or with the idea of using technology in the first place.  There is still a generation of investors that is wary of using technology to share their financial information and communicate with their wealth management team.  Quality tech platforms with the right modifications should be able to effectively relate to any investor.

When evaluating which technology platform to track and share personal financial information, investors should use these four characteristics as a guide.  The balance between all four is essential.  At Wescott, we take that balance seriously.  In fact, we used these characteristics as the cornerstones in our development of myWescottVault™, a tool for all investors and their families.  Beyond its role as a secure client “vault” for personal information, it is a robust piece of cloud-based technology that puts the client at the center of the experience.  Ultimately, that is what any good financial technology solution will do: put the client first.

To learn more, contact Wescott Financial.