With the launch of Bricknode Financial Systems version 2.01 came the Add-On Marketplace where specialized apps are being built and offered in a rapid pace. These apps have the power to offer a customized experience with regards to executing specific tasks.
The Bricknode Marketplace is opening up to 3rd party developers and product creators within the FinTech community that can use Bricknode as the core of their applications.
Since the end of the summer we have produced apps like Subscription Manager, Nordnet File Import, BankGiro Application and now we are releasing the Fee Manager with more to follow shortly!
A quick video of the Fee Manager for BFS can be viewed below.
The first available fee type in the Fee Manager is assets under management. A lot of our users are keeping customer accounts with an external broker and then using BFS to mirror these accounts for their customers. At the end of a month or at the end of another period, our user would like to create a file with the fees that should be applied by the external broker. This problem is what the first version of the Fee Manager solves in a beautiful way.
As with all of our Add-On apps the Fee Manager can be tried for free during 30-days, please let us know what you think!
During the past week the Swedish website Realtid.se published an article with regards to prohibiting kickbacks to financial advisors when selling securities or giving advice. Bricknode offers a solution for these issues, view the video below.
Earlier this week Bricknode announced the release of the Account Worlds & Dimensions concept, AWD in short. During the development of a complete financial platform, like Bricknode Financial Systems (BFS), there is a constant battle going on with regards to how far the scope of the platform should stretch.
As the product owner of BFS this is one of my main issues to manage. Now, what do I mean by scope? Well, its not how many functions our platform should have but rather how far the platform should look into external accounts and how should it be used in terms of accounting. Before we go further into this topic I will start describing the main roles within BFS.
The House within BFS is the operator/owner of a BFS-instance. This is the company that owns the customers within the BFS-instance and who is responsible for everything that goes on. The House is the entity that exports accounting data files from BFS in order to import into its own accounting system and who is responsible for all client assets, settlement and reconciliation.
A House member is someone who is using an instance of BFS and has a relationship with the House of the instance. For example, an Advisor managing customers and creating orders within the BFS-instance. A House member is also a company or a private individual who is a customer of the House. The assets of a House member that is keep within the BFS-instance is managed by the House but the House member might want to be able to extract their own accounting files for only their own account within the BFS-instance.
A provider of a BFS-instance could be a fund marketplace offering fund trading to the customers of the House, it could be a quote feed provider which the House has contracted with among other things.
These concepts are the pilars of BFS.
Please watch the following short clip about the AWD-concept before you continue to read more articles of this series.
Investing and advisory is changing rapidly! For the first time since the dawn of online investing the financial services are changing from list based sites into more enticing offerings using the tools offered by social media.
An interesting article in Investment News presented examples of even the older generation moving to online services to manage their assets, read the article here.
Instead of having to select between individual stocks the casual investor looks to follow others and being able to invest in themes. A great example of a stock focused site for this type of investing is Motif Investing who has created a new type of brokerage firm around this concept.
This relates to all asset classes and not only stocks which is why Bricknode; with its broad API; can support financial service firms who wish to create their own concepts using Bricknode Financial Systems as the general framework.
A few weeks ago Bricknode signed a strategic deal with MFEX Mutual Funds Exchange as a customer and partner for offering automated mutual fund trading. Yesterday Bricknode launched its last release into a production environment and we are now looking forward to our next release which will include the first module involving MFEX.
Trading of mutual funds still poses a big problem within the technical aspects of securities processing since the back office process can be demanding together with various types of corporate actions.
By combining the mutual fund exchange developed by MFEX and the back office and customer facing capabilities of Bricknode Financial Systems (“BFS”) this partnership will be able to offer truly automated trading of mutual funds.
The most frequent question we hear from new customers of Bricknode is how the platform manages the fact that money is sent to the fund company before the actual execution report is received. The simple answer is that BFS works with account reservations on the end customer interface while tracking un-settled funds sent to the fund companies pending execution.
Stay tuned for release number 4 of 2014!
A very interesting article was published in the Financial Times which was reported upon by various media like Veckans Affärer. Facebook could become the ultimate player within the financial industry who really understands how to use the Internet for conducting social banking and for the future maybe social trading?
Facebook has made a lot of smart moves lately where it has used its money to quickly make acquisitions instead of trying to develop everything itself. It definitely grasps the importance of time to market. With its global reach the company could become the fastest established financial institution ever. In an industry where numerous companies are struggling to establish a technical standard of their own and gain acceptance, could Facebook accomplish this by offering standardised banking API’s?
The next few years will continue to boost the financial technology shift into cloud solutions for financial companies and Bricknode is right in the middle of it!
Financial service companies are increasingly realising that focusing on their core business while outsourcing everything else is the way to go. Recently there was an article on Finextra with regards to third party vendors within the financial technology sector and how a lot of financial technology can be viewed as a commodity.
Financial service firms are even realising that a lot of technology companies can add value by even working in their own systems on behalf of the customer instead of training the personnel of the financial service company. Last week offered even more evidence of this when the large mutual fund operator Swedbank Robur selected TradeTech Consulting as their outsourcing partner for working in SimCorp Dimension, read the press release here.
A financial technology firm or a company closely related and specialised on certain software platforms can most certainly perform a lot of tasks more efficiently than a financial service company.
Bricknode has monitored this trend for some time and last week the company launched two new offerings. Bricknode can now create both outsourcing setups and even act as solution managers on behalf of customers who needs help with creating processes, performing day to day operations or architect new system solutions.
If you manage or own a financial advisory firm; or if you are running a financial institution with financial advisory as one of your business segments you should be reading this article.
Lets start by specifying some of your greatest pains with regards to your financial advisors.
- Lack of productivity (revenue generation)
- Fulfilling regulatory requirements (compliance)
- Verifying advisory process (quality of service)
Now, lets address one by one and look at how I think technology can offer a solution to each one of them.
Lack of productivity
The absolute greatest challenge for a financial advisor is how to leverage their time and this is one segment where technology really can help.
A great example of this is the effort by Danske Bank to start offering eMeetings. By utilising technology in the advisory process you could have customers pre-fill a lot of the questionnaires which you need in order to conduct the advisory process. The advisory tool could then present a few default packages based on the economic situation of the customer in relation to their risk appetite.
A simplified advisory process could look like this:
- Book a meeting
- Send an electronic information collection form to the customer
- Automatically compute received information to arrive at advisory packages
- Review advice live with the customer through a web presentation
Fulfilling regulatory requirements
As a manager or owner of a financial advisory business you can never be absolutely sure that your advisors are fulfilling all of their regulatory requirements unless you have a strict technical process in place. Using a customer acquisition software service you could configure the process ad-hoc and get some ease of mind while at the same time increasing productivity.
Verifying advisory process
To build company value as a financial advisor you have to be able to measure the effectiveness of your advisory process while at the same time being able to replicate it throughout your whole staff of advisors.
You constantly have to develop and adapt your process to the changing needs of your customers and the global environment. By utilising an integrated cloud based solution you could constantly configure your process and measure the results for both your advisors and your end customers.
Bricknode has embarked on the journey of working with financial advisors in order to create scalable value and increase competitiveness among small and mid-sized advisors. Please give us feedback on our Advisory module and Customer acquisition module!
We are running our production MongoDB replica set on Linux servers using the Ubuntu distribution. The other day we wanted to do some changes in our hardware configuration which would cause reboot of the servers. Before we used MongoDB for data persistence, we would have had to perform this maintenance operation at an hour with lowest possible usage of the system and we would have had to notify our customers and apologize for the inconvenience of the loss in service. The time of the day would probably have been really inconvenient for the guy performing the operation as well.
With the replication features of MongoDB we were able perform these actions during office hours by restarting the servers in the replica set one by one and no one noticed anything at all, except for us who were monitoring the replica set closely during the operation.
MongoDB replication will also allow us to perform “rolling upgrade” of our database servers, which will allow us to upgrade to the upcoming version 2.6 without any outage in our service. That suits us well, since we as far as possible want to keep up with the latest releases of the software we use in order always have access to the latest technology and to avoid accumulating “release gaps”.
Check out our whitepaper on how we migrated Bricknode Financial System from a SQL database system to MongoDB.
At least in the Swedish financial press there is a very hot topic currently being discussed with regards to the kickback-based business models used by financial advisors.
Today’s newspaper holds an article written by Christoffer Folkebo, the CEO of Max Matthiessen, a well-known insurance advisory firm. The article focuses on developing a standardised way for presenting all fees surrounding fund investments in a transparent way for customers.
I have previously touched upon this topic through various articles including “3 steps for surviving as a financial service company in the 21st century”, Thoughts on commission less world in our LinkedIn Group, Richard Leeson also wrote a good blog post on the topic titled “A Commission Less World”.
If for example kickbacks for financial advisors are to be banned the industry has to find a new scalable way of doing business. Obviously a financial advisor has to receive some sort of compensation for their work and the most transparent way would be to just charge a fee upfront for their services. If an advisor would charge for their hours spent only the very rich could afford having this type of service which means that the advisors instead could move towards implementing some sort of subscription model.
The next question one has to ask is what is the end customer ready to pay for? My response would be:
- Getting an aggregated view of their financial life in one place
- Being able to automatically act on certain offers and advice online without having to go to a meeting
By categorising customers in certain ways it is possible to automate some of the ongoing advisory process and by doing this the advisor would be able to scale out their services without selling hours.
In summary, all these events and business model adaptations are a testament to the fact that IT-systems are getting an even more centralised role in all aspects of the financial services business.