Editor’s Note: One objective of our articles is to share with our clients the trends we see impacting the environment within which we all operate. This enables the reader to understand the thinking FNI’s senior management and the types of changes that will affect our joint future.
Retrieving financial data electronically has never been a simple process. Although FNI’s BankLink and BrokerLink data retrieval software products make it easy for the user, the myriad of financial custodians providing differing amounts of detail and utilizing inconsistent formats require a lot of behind-the-scenes expertise. Now, as institutions increasingly focus on raising their security standards, new challenges are arising that herald change.
Data Aggregation as an Industry
The process of automated data collection, electronically gathering transaction information for investments, checking activity, credit cards, etc. from a variety of sources for multiple accounts, is now so important and technology-intensive that it has become a separate industry. In simpler times, FNI could provide this service itself. Now, however, because of the thousands of financial institutions, each with its own evolving security procedures, this service can only be efficiently provided by specialists. A recent experience reminded us of this new reality.
In early January, several clients called about problems they were having retrieving their data from a specific investment firm. FNI’s BrokerLink product had worked flawlessly just a few days before, yet our clients were now receiving messages stating they did not have the correct credentials to access their accounts. We discovered that, with the New Year, the bank had changed its security protocols. When we contacted the bank, they declined to tell us what information their system now wants or the format in which we need to provide it. Instead, they are leaving us completely in the dark.
Obviously, it is not feasible for us to try to determine what is needed for, and then customize our products to accommodate, the unique security requirements of every financial institution in the land. We need a more practical, wide-ranging solution. Rather than reinvent the wheel, we can instead accomplish our objectives most effectively by partnering with one of the firms that specializes in data retrieval.
ByAllAccounts / Morningstar
ByAllAccounts (“BAA”), a division of Morningstar Inc., is one of the largest and most successful data aggregation services in the US. Since 2013, FNI has been using BAA to gather financial data for its new clients. FNI’s pre-existing clients also have the option of using BAA, but are not required to do so. However, given the ever-increasing complexity of this process, we expect that, over time, all clients will eventually have no choice but to use BAA for their data retrieval needs. The above anecdote is simply the latest example of why.
If you are currently using FNI’s BankLink or BrokerLink data retrieval software to retrieve your financial data, you can certainly continue to do so. However, if and when that functionality comes to an abrupt halt for some of your accounts, as in the example above, you will then need to use a different tool. Fortunately, ByAllAccounts has a proven solution readily available. What’s more, FNI’s support staff can install BAA’s software and show you how it works, to make your transition as quick and painless as possible. In this instance at least, there is no need to fear change.