Is your client data vulnerable?

Published by Bo McWilliams, Managing Director - General Manager, Managed Hosting
August 23rd, 2016

Wealth management firms have a deep responsibility to their clients. That responsibility goes far beyond the Fiduciary Standard and engagement on client goals. One of the deepest—and least talked about—is the responsibility for the safekeeping of personal client data.

Wealth management firms have access to the most valuable client information, all in one location. That creates a very target-rich environment for criminals and hackers. It’s therefore critical that the measures employed in the protection of that data are equal to the task.

Firms, therefore, have important choices to make. There are myriad philosophies regarding how to organize and run a wealth management firm, but one thing’s certain: data security must be a paramount concern.

 

Time as a Factor in Security


Unfortunately, an effective data security strategy takes both time and money. Most of the time, wealth management firms don’t undertake the expense to employ a development and security team with sufficient skills to manage this critical operation. That leaves them with the choice of hiring an outside consultant group to design and implement a security strategy for client data.

With the speed of change in electronic security and prevention techniques, the decision to hire an outside firm is not a short-term development engagement—it’s the decision to enter into a long-term relationship that will cost serious money.

Additionally, in the event of a security breach, the firm is the sole responsible party in the eyes of the law. Relationships with outside vendors should therefore be very carefully contemplated. This leads back to the fact that all of this takes time. No wealth manager goes into business to be a software developer or data security specialist. And no wealth manager goes into business to give away a significant amount of money to hire those services.

That leaves a third option.

First Rate’s Managed Hosting


Information technology systems and expertise play a critical role in enabling financial firms to meet client expectations and industry regulations, and having the right systems in place improves service delivery and reporting performance. Yet financial institutions are struggling with the costs—in head count and infrastructure terms—of maintaining a secure, reliable, available and scalable environment. Their internally developed reporting solutions can’t keep up with the latest standards.

One of the easiest ways to optimize staffing needs and bypass aging infrastructure is to deliver critical business applications in a managed-hosting environment. Managed hosting gives businesses the ability to deploy applications and services using the established and secure infrastructure of a service provider where security and up time are their primary skills. Delivering business applications in a managed hosting environment relieves the pressure on both staff and owned infrastructure, and helps firms keep up with the demands of change in a way that provides data security, reliability, availability and scalability.

First Rate’s Managed Hosting services cater to the financial industry, as opposed to mass-market cloud hosting providers that do not fully understand or tailor their services to financial industry requirements. Our managed hosting service includes a team focused on actively managing every aspect of your hosted experience.

First Rate CORE – A Turnkey Solution


Our CORE solution is an end-to-end wealth management solution with the capability to deliver a holistic wealth view for any client, any time, in an on-demand environment. It provides a fully secure, integrated data engine that allows wealth managers to service every aspect of their client relationships in a way that builds trust and delivers custom solutions.

It’s built on a fully integrated data engine that creates a stable, fast, and robust operating environment. Security concerns have been front-of-mind throughout the entire development process.

As we know, data security can be attacked at every point in the development and delivery chain. We have a two-pronged strategy for ensuring data compliance and integrity: we make a significant outbound effort as a company to consult with clients on security matters, and we have a robust internal development strategy that includes several methods to ensure our own data is secure:

  • We regularly perform an “ethical hack” on our systems to locate hidden weaknesses.
    We have systems that perform continuous threat monitoring of our networks and servers
  • BC/DR testing—Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery testing enables us to test our recovery strategy for resiliency in the event of a disaster or major interruption of service at our data centers.
  • We use Veracode, an outside software vulnerability testing firm to validate our code-base and tests for inconsistencies and weaknesses that would permit nefarious intrusions or code injections.
  • In addition to third party code testing, we design our own tests, and then we test the tests as well.
  • And finally, we utilize a third party auditing firm to review our policies, procedures and controls in order to maintain our AICPA SOC2 certification each year.

We do all of this because we know that no matter how great our products are, data integrity and security are paramount.

At First Rate, we believe that when you tell your story using a combination of superior digital tools like our goal based reporting application through the CORE solution, and excellent one-on-one attention, clients are more engaged, long-term relationships thrive, and your competition is left behind.

 

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About the Author: Hugh (Bo) McWilliams is General Manager of First Rate’s Managed Hosting division, and is responsible for First Rate’s data centers, infrastructure, data processing operations and security.

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