Wealth From Within: Microsoft Empowers Next-Generation Financial Advisors With Advisor Platform Offering

REDMOND, Wash. — Dec. 19, 2005 — Separate silos of customer information. Disparate databases. Complex investment products scattered across several systems.

Financial advisors facing these issues finally have an industry-tested solution. 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.1 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.

And trusted advisors can trust Microsoft, which has joined with several partners to launch the new offering: AdviceAmerica Inc., Avanade, Blue Frog Solutions Inc., Capgemini, Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories Inc., Impact Technologies Group Inc. and XDimensional Technologies Inc. (XDTI). Utilizing these companies’ best-of-breed functionality, Microsoft integrates capabilities and tools for enterprise identity, collaboration, portal, workflow and operational disciplines to provide a battle-tested, streamlined framework.

“Wealth management clients are becoming increasingly sophisticated. They expect an advisor who understands their complete financial situation,” said Bill Hartnett, general manager of strategy and solutions for the Financial Services Group at Microsoft. “The Microsoft Advisor Platform helps advisors give better, more holistic advice, and also helps firms compete more effectively by using technology to differentiate themselves in an increasingly competitive marketplace.”

The Power of the Platform: Integration and Connectivity

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.

Partner Support for the Industry Framework

Several key Microsoft independent software vendors serving the banking, capital markets and insurance industries have joined with Microsoft to launch the Advisor Platform:

“Microsoft’s .NET Framework has enabled AdviceAmerica to provide financial institutions with cutting-edge flexibility in terms of roles, workflow and system configuration — all of which dramatically lower total cost of ownership.”

— James Lorian, Senior Vice President of Business Development, AdviceAmerica

“The Microsoft Advisor Platform campaign is an excellent opportunity for demonstrating the full value of the Microsoft platform and desktop products in scenarios that are relevant to our financial services clients. This program also allows Avanade to demonstrate our value-added assets, and how we use them to create solutions for the information worker in financial services applications. Avanade is focused on delivering value to our clients by harnessing the power of the Microsoft platform and the synergy that is possible when Microsoft desktop, CRM, business intelligence and portal products operate seamlessly.”

—George Lipsker, Director of Market Development Financial Services, North America, Avanade

“Microsoft’s .NET technology is at the heart of Blue Frog’s software solutions, which are allowing large financial services firms to efficiently share critical customer, sales, asset and investment information with managers of various investment products. Blue Frog has partnered with Microsoft and its experience Insurance partners to provide real application solutions to the market. These solutions are evolving to provide a suite of fully integrated products that bring real value and a terrific experience to advisors utilizing the Microsoft Advisor Platform.”

—Doug Massey, Vice President, Insurance Services, Blue Frog Solutions

“Capgemini is pleased to be working with Microsoft and build on our great momentum in the wealth management space. We are also happy to be one of its partners in support of the Microsoft Advisor Platform. Together, we are helping to build a richer client and advisor experience by empowering advisors with the next generation of workstation technology and developing more innovative client-facing Web site strategies to extend their reach to the Internet for more fruitful collaboration with their customers.”

—Donie Lochan, Vice President and Wealth Management Practice Leader, Capgemini

“The Microsoft Advisor Platform initiative focuses on solving key challenges in the financial services sector. We’ve partnered with Microsoft to address these problems by aligning the right technology solutions to help financial institutions reduce operating costs while increasing productivity for the customers at the enterprise. Microsoft Live Communications Server and Genesys’ GETS (Genesys Enterprise Telephony Software) solution allow customers the flexibility to leverage their existing PBX infrastructure and/or to migrate to VOIP at their own pace while experiencing tremendous savings impact to their businesses.”

—Kenneth Chang, Director of Business Development and Strategy, Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories

“The Microsoft Advisor Platform initiative focuses on solving key industry problems and challenges in financial services. Microsoft and its best-of-breed partners like Impact address these problems by aligning the right technology solutions that help financial institutions create operational efficiencies within and achieve success with the customers they serve. Microsoft’s tools have allowed us to speed to market solutions like PlanLab and successfully deliver value to the financial services industry.”

—Kevin Clay, President, Impact Technologies Group

“The empowerment of financial advisors via the Microsoft Advisor Platform can be expected to raise the level of service and value that customers and prospects will receive. It will help build broader and deeper client relationships. Within the value chain, it will enable efficient delivery of products and services and raise the level of collaboration. Ultimately, it helps increase our potential to drive higher sales and satisfaction levels. We are pleased to participate in this exciting new initiative and offer advisors a powerful service for selling and managing their clients’ insurance needs.”

—Warren Long, Vice President of Marketing, XDimensional Technologies

About experience Financial Services

Experience Financial Services is a Microsoft initiative that helps financial services organizations change the customer, employee and operations experience so they can maximize opportunities for increased market share and profitability. Working with more than 75 leading financial industry technology companies, Microsoft developed the experience Financial Services initiative to help financial services firms differentiate their brands and achieve a competitive advantage with increased employee satisfaction and productivity, faster response to changing market needs, and reduced total cost of ownership. More information can be found online at http://www.microsoft.com/resources/financialservices.

More information about the Microsoft Advisor Platform framework can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/industry/financialservices/advisorplatform.mspx.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

1 Source: Celent LLC, “North American Wealth Management Survey,” 2004

Microsoft, BizTalk, Microsoft Dynamics, SharePoint, Windows and Windows Server are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

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