Data, People and Process: Key Considerations for Family Offices Implementing a Wealthtech Solution

Data, People and Process: Key Considerations for Family Offices Implementing a Wealthtech Solution

Publish Date Feb 16 2022

SEI Family Office Services delivers technology and outsourced services that support the accounting, investment management and reporting functions of family offices, private banks, private wealth advisors and alternative asset managers. Designed to help family offices and advisors to wealthy families better serve their ultra-high-net-worth clients, SEI’s award-winning Archway Platform℠ and high-touch outsourced services efficiently handle complex partnership, portfolio and corporate accounting alongside bill payment, investment management and multi-asset class data aggregation.

At SEI Family Office Services, we often talk about the importance of data, people and process in overarching family office wealthtech strategies. But it bears repeating that this trio can—and should—be specifically applied to the implementation of family office technology solutions too.

Leveraging our extensive experience implementing the Archway Platform℠ for family offices and financial institutions serving ultra-high-net-worth families, SEI Family Office Services knows a thing or two about how the decisions related to these three core areas can impact your implementation timeline (check out our recent blog Family Office Software Implementations: 5 Common Timeline Delays and How to Prevent Them) as well as the long-term viability of your chosen family office solution.

To help your family office think through these inflection points, SEI Family Office Services has put together a short list of considerations associated with each theme: data, people and process.

Data. The foundation of your wealthtech solution.

Arguably one of the most challenging components of a wealthtech implementation project is collecting, validating and delivering data to your technology vendor. While tech shops can mitigate the impact of this step through automation, data feeds and intuitive data assembly tools, family offices can also take steps to help create a seamless conversion.

Here are a few data-focused considerations:

  • Do you have a list of entities, accounts and ownership structures?
  • Do you have a list of all custodial and bank accounts, including points-of-contact?
  • Do you have a list of all managers for alternative investments?
  • Do you know how to extract data out of legacy systems, including general ledgers, custodian portals and portfolio reporting platforms?
  • Are you able to provide accurate, validated data to ensure a clean starting point in your new system?
  • Do you have access to historical financial reports, including balance sheets, income statements, trial balances and custodial documents?
  • Do you have records for all historical alternative investment cash flows?
  • If migrating to a new accounting system, are you prepared to close out the last accounting period in your existing system?
  • If migrating to a new reporting tool, is historical investment performance data readily available?

People. The engine that drives your success.

Implementing a new wealthtech solution takes equal parts skill, knowledge and resourcing. And while most people assume resourcing needs must be met internally, we’ve found that this isn’t always the case given the growing number of family office consultants that can offer capacity and expertise on an as-needed basis. With that in mind, striking the right balance of internal and external resources is critical to ensuring that you have the right team in place to successfully complete the implementation project and perhaps, more importantly, operate the solution long-term.

Here are a few people-focused considerations:

  • Who will be responsible for evaluating solutions?
  • Will you engage a consultant during the technology selection?
  • Who will be the ultimate decision-maker?
  • Who will manage the implementation project?
  • Who will support the collection, validation and delivery of data to your vendor?
  • Who will oversee the successful completion of project milestones?
  • Will you have a dedicated team to operate the technology post-conversion?
  • Who will be responsible for communicating with the vendor, sharing product updates internally and training internal staff on how to use the solution?
  • Will you outsource any components of your operations to your technology vendor or other third-party contractor?

Process. The nuances that define your operations.

If you have the data and you have the people, the final piece in the trifecta of implementation success is your process. Do you have a process defined that assembles the proper resources to collect, validate and deliver the data that is required to stand up to a new technology solution? While this may seem like overkill, keep in mind that in most cases, family office employees don’t simply abandon their day jobs during a technology implementation. By planning a process ahead of time, and remaining flexible throughout the implementation project, you’ll be in a better position to set reasonable expectations that don’t over-burden your resources.

Here are a few process-focused considerations:

  • What are the most important functions you need to perform in your new platform?
  • Have you thought about how you would like to prioritize the adoption of these new functions?
  • What reporting outputs do you hope to attain using your new platform?
  • Have you communicated your goals to your preferred technology vendor?
  • Have you worked with your internal stakeholders as well as your preferred technology vendor to set priorities and milestones?
  • Have you begun change management discussions?
  • Do you understand what data is required to reach project milestones?
  • Is your anticipated milestone timeline achievable based on other, pre-existing responsibilities and priorities?
  • How will you allocate resources to complete project milestones?
  • Have you created a workflow for collecting, validating and delivering data to your preferred vendor?
  • Who will sign off on the completion of project milestones?
  • Have you established criteria to determine when you can effectively cut ties with your old systems and processes?

In our 20 years of implementing the Archway Platform, SEI Family Office Services has learned firsthand how impactful pre-work can be. We recognize that having data, people and processes aligned is the key to simplifying technology migrations. By going through the exercises of organizing and preparing your data, planning resources and defining processes upfront, your family office will be better equipped to hit the ground running on your implementation project and successfully scale up your new solution.