After hearing our plans to create a new platform, a number of our clients have inquired about what they can do to prepare for the future. It is smart of them to be asking this now.
Adequacy of Your Data
One question we like to hear from clients is, “What should I be doing to prepare for conversion to the new platform?” This is a good question because the steps you take now will make your later work easier and allow the performance reports you receive in the future to be more meaningful.
To prepare for conversion, we recommend clients examine the quality of the data they have already recorded in FN. After all, this is the data that will be converted to the new platform. If the qualify of your data is good, you will be well positioned for success in using the new system. Conversely, if the quality of the data is poor, you may be disappointed with some of the reports the new platform can produce.
Accounting vs. Performance Data
A little background can be helpful here. FN 9.5 has extensive capabilities, but many clients use it primarily as an accounting system. Therefore, the data in the system often ends up being just accounting data. To ease the on-going task of entering data, clients often summarize that data and take other shortcuts, as long as the cash account reconciles to the bank or custodian balance.
The new Asset Vantage platform provides accounting but also offers other capabilities, including calculating investment performance at many levels of asset classification. For financial performance calculations to be accurate and meaningful, the underlying data must be more detailed and precise than for basic accounting.
For example, consider the different ways a FN user can track dividends received. Many of our clients simply lump all dividends together and record one amount at the end of the month as dividend income, with a corresponding addition to cash. For general accounting purposes this approach works fine. And, if you only wish to report performance at the portfolio level, this practice for recording dividend income is acceptable. However, if you want to analyze performance by each security, this method will not be suitable.
If your data is not sufficiently detailed, there are three alternatives to consider:
- Accept the Situation – You can accept the fact that certain performance calculations for past time periods will be unavailable or inaccurate because the data you have is not as detailed as needed.
- Improve the Data Yourself – You can go into FN 9.5 and edit the FN data to make it more accurate and detailed. You can do this on a selective basis and only add data where it will have a significant impact on performance calculations.
- Have FNI Improve the Data – We are beginning to develop special services where we can assist our clients to correct or improve their data. If you ask, we can give you our assessment and a fee estimate for us to do the work needed to bring your data to the level of accuracy required for the new calculations. This approach will allow you to gain the full benefit of the new platform.
Any of these three alternatives can certainly provide a satisfactory solution. Each client will have to decide which approach will best meet their specific needs.
More Detail Moving Forward
The best news is that the new platform has a number of techniques for capturing the detailed data required for precise performance calculations. As a result, the issue of getting sufficient transaction data into the system should not be a problem in the future.
The other question we are asked by clients is, “Will I need to change my Internet connection?”
The new platform is a cloud-based system that will only operate over an Internet connection. Fortunately, the system is designed so that it does not require a very high speed Internet connection to work well. A connection with a minimum speed of 20mbps (megabits per second) for downloading data and 5mbps for uploading should be satisfactory. Of course, a faster speed will provide a better experience for users because the reports and screens will display more quickly.
The key requirement should be that your Internet connection is reliable and not subject to outages, since the loss of your connection would prevent you from using the new platform.