The findings in this blog post come from our annual survey of over 1,600 registered investment adviser ("RIA") firms that was conducted in the first quarter of 2020. This proprietary RIA in a Box study is paired with publicly accessible data provided by the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC"). The goal of our annual study is to understand different options that comprise each firm characteristic, and to determine whether specific characteristics impact the growth, size, or operational efficiency of an RIA firm. In this blog post, we will explore our survey results in response to document storage software systems used by RIA firms.
Excessive documentation and storage are a challenge advisors of all sizes face. As advisors expand the size of their firms and headcount increases, document accumulation is a natural product of firm growth. Fortunately, the market for cloud-based document storage solutions has expanded dramatically over the last decade. As more teams work remotely and across multiple offices, cloud-based document storage solutions can help the RIA firm meet regulatory compliance requirements, reduce hardware costs, streamline operations, and improve the client experience. Starting at around $10 to $20 per user per month, an advisor can benefit from secure cloud storage for all client files and firm documents, making document storage software a compelling return on investment to all investment advisory firms.
Document Storage Systems Adoption Year Over Year
RIA Adoption Rate of Document Storage Systems
Following the usage of a customer relationship management (“CRM”) software at 53% of all RIA firms, 50% of surveyed RIA firms have adopted a document storage or management system. Like other core technology solutions, larger firms are much more likely to adopt a document storage solution in comparison to emerging firms. While overall document storage software penetration has plateaued in recent years, as advisory firms build their technology stack, firms are the most likely to adopt a document storage solution first in relation to a CRM or financial planning solution. We attribute this change to the growing competitive landscape for document storage solutions, increased comfort with cloud-based solutions, and low upfront investment in relation to other technology solutions. We continue to generally recommend that investment advisers utilize more secure, paid versions of cloud storage solutions when possible given the security features, operational efficiency, and robust back up capabilities.
RIA Document Storage Systems Adoption by Firm AUM Size
The Top RIA Document Storage Systems
In the past, Box and Dropbox have dominated the RIA cloud document storage space, but now there are several financial advisor focused document storage solutions, such as ShareFile, Redtail, and Docupace that continue to gain increased adoption in the RIA space. Also, we've seen Dropbox clearly distance itself from Box over the last two years as the document storage solution of choice for advisors. This may be to Dropbox's more recent push to offer its DropBox Business menu of storage options.
Both Box and Dropbox offer free consumed-focused versions for general storage solutions but are not primarily designed for the investment advisor or broader financial services industry. Advisors need to be selective as to which solution is the best offering for their firm as the task of changing providers can be cumbersome. Advisors should strongly consider document storage solutions with features that are designed to meet relevant regulatory requirements.
Firms utilizing our MyRIACompliance software platform benefit from our integration with Docupace, a digital document management system that uses government-grade encryption to help maintain security. The integration allows a joint Docupace and RIA in Box MyRIACompliance® subscribers to leverage single sign-on to access the Docupace Vault to consolidate their physical and digital records.
This post is the fourth of five blog posts that will focus on the core technology solutions available to investment advisory firms with our most recent prior post centered on portfolio management and reporting systems. In the final post, we will take a detailed look at portfolio risk software solutions.