The cloud as the true paperless office

Cloud storage of client paperwork took the wasteful legwork out of meetings and administration for this financial advisor.

In 2011, NewMarket Financial Advisors took the leap into cloud computing to streamline client communications as part of its mission to assist clients in every aspect of their financial lives.

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Brandon Lancaster Image: NewMarket Financial Advisors

"Large client rosters and massive amounts of paperwork make things difficult," explained vice president Brandon Lancaster, who drove the project for the 30-year-old company. "Anything that saves time is worth its weight in gold."

The deal to work with a new securities broker-dealer gave the company the chance to look for ways to improve workflows company wide. It found a document management system called Safe Cloud from provider Cabinet, and Lancaster said that as soon as it was up and running, NewMarket's team of advisors was enjoying all the benefits of the paperless system. "We had speedy access to documents, foolproof version control, granular security, and peace of mind knowing all our information was securely backed up," he said.

Client documentation became the linchpin of the move. At the time, all of NewMarket's documents were on paper or legacy computer systems, meaning wasted time filing and retrieving information, as well as inefficient document-sharing practices.

"We looked at the big picture and knew that with 750 clients and a commitment to set up a up a disaster preparedness plan, it was the most responsible thing we could do," Lancaster said of what prompted the move in the early days. "We broke the task into small fragments and gave ourselves a year to make the transition."

Whenever the company performed a portfolio review with a client, staff would clean up the client's hard copy paper file and convert everything to Cabinet. "We were slow and steady," Lancaster said, "and we completed the transition faster than the time that we allotted ourselves."

Safe Cloud is hosted in Cabinet's secure data facility, and the NewMarket Financial Advisors team found the transition seamless. The true value was revealed when the company was subject to an audit from its broker-dealer. Though the process was completely routine, the timing was tight — barely a week between notification and the audit itself. The old paper files system would have been a nightmare, but Lancaster said it went extremely well. "We did everything by the book, and they were in and out of our office within five hours."

As a client-focused company, both NewMarket Advisors and its clients place a lot of value on one-on-one meetings. In the old days, it meant enlisting support staff to locate, package, and transport large amounts of paper documentation. However, Cabinet's mobile app gives advisors access to the document store on their iPads.

Lancaster said the mobile app interface is extremely easy to use, with robust capabilities. "We immediately recognised how valuable it would be for client reviews and travel," he said. "So much so, we ended up purchasing five additional iPads so our advisors have access."

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