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December 19, 2005

Microsoft announces Advisor Platform for the financial services industry

Posted by David Hunter at 10:02 AM ET.

Microsoft rolls out another vertical offering, this time for the financial services industry:

Microsoft Corp. today announced the Microsoft® Advisor Platform, a Web services framework designed to help advisors take a centralized view of both customers and investment products and services. The platform not only improves financial advisors’ ability to provide customer service, it also leverages firms’ existing IT infrastructures to find the wealth within.

“Financial firms face many challenges in developing a wealth management platform,” said Alois Pirker, securities and investment analyst with Celent LLC. “Among the top challenges faced are making sure that the platform integrates with existing in-house systems and getting advisors to use the tools.”

In fact, a recent Celent study found that more than 50 percent of banks and brokerage houses report that integrating with existing in-house systems is a major challenge to effective wealth management. The Microsoft Advisor Platform addresses this problem by utilizing the power of the Microsoft .NET Framework and service-oriented architecture (SOA) to tie multiple back-office systems together into a seamless platform for investment planners, wealth managers and others.

The Microsoft Advisor Platform is often implemented as a collaborative portal that gives advisors centralized access to client information, helping them offer more holistic advice, increase cross-selling opportunities and enhance regulatory compliance. Through a familiar Microsoft interface, advisors using the portal can seek out and profile potential clients, create financial plans, and perform complex wealth-management functions. The portal’s team collaboration capabilities also enable advisors to take full advantage of the expertise across an institution, without having to go outside the portal.

Behind the portal is a matrix of disparate data sources and applications connected through Web services. Both partner applications and Microsoft technologies — including Microsoft SQL Server™, Microsoft BizTalk® Server and Microsoft Office Live Communications Server — help enable high levels of scalability and reliability to drive or communicate with back-end systems. And by using applications such as Microsoft Dynamics™, Microsoft Office SharePoint® Portal Server, the Microsoft Office system and Microsoft Windows® Rights Management Services (RMS) for Windows Server™, firms can build full CRM and collaboration functionality into the framework, allowing advisors to store unified customer information, create projects in virtual work spaces, and exchange instant messages with their teammates such as to share new investment ideas, for example.

If this seems a trifle vague and inclusive of every known Microsoft product, it’s because it’s not a product, but a template for Microsoft customers and partners to build financial services systems with Microsoft technologies and legacy systems.

Filed under Financial Services, Verticals

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