Making technology management decisions for your registered investment adviser ("RIA") firm can be daunting. One of the most important decisions you have to make is which network infrastructure to use. It’s a vital component of your business operations that can enhance the efficiency of your organization while ensuring security of your critical business data.
You may ask which infrastructure technology will keep us most secure? Which one allows our people to best serve clients? How much do we need to invest in technology – hardware, software, and networks – to meet our business objectives? Read on below as we discuss the benefits of using a virtual desktop solution tailored for RIA firms.
What is a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure?
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure "VDI" is a desktop virtualization technology where the operating system, typically Microsoft Windows, runs and is managed in an on-premises or cloud data center. The virtual desktop image is delivered over a network to the user’s device, such as a PC, tablet, or mobile phone, which allows the user to interact with the operating system and its applications as if running them in the office.
For example, if you are working in your home office, you log into your company’s server remotely, and it’s as if you are in the office. You see the same screen on your device, have access to the same applications, and company data. It allows workers to not be tethered to the office and have the same computing experience, no matter what device they are using.
How Will a VDI Help my RIA Firm?
There are three key ways that a VDI allows you to transform your firm’s ability to leverage your technology to service clients better.
1. Operational Efficiency
Every firm wants to boost productivity while saving money. VDI allows you to do both. With a local network infrastructure, your firm would need to invest in servers, desktop computers, and the cost of maintaining and upgrading them on site. With a VDI, your RIA firm can drastically reduce many of those expenses.
First, no on-site server is needed, saving you significant money depending on your needs and the number of people accessing the network.
Second, you wouldn’t need to invest in the most feature-rich or fastest processing computers to enable your employees to maximize their productivity. With VDI, computers are truly dummy terminals. No matter what device you use to log in, you will see the familiar Windows 10 operating system and as long as you have a quality Internet connection, you’ll have access to the power and speed of the cloud network. The power of the user experience is in the cloud, not the terminal or computing device. You don’t need to invest in the latest and greatest computers, saving you money. In fact, your employees can use their own personal computers if they have an affinity to a particular brand or type.
Third, your information technology ("IT") department or managed service provider can install updates and patches at once, rather than running around trying to update every employee’s computer. You only have one system to troubleshoot instead of many. This allows your IT staff or managed service provider to focus on significant issues, instead of redundant work. This can save significant time and money.
Fourth, with the rapid growth of many RIA firms, VDI makes it easier for firms to rapidly add advisors and support staff quickly and seamlessly. Gone are the days of delaying moving into a new office space waiting for the network wiring build out to be completed. And, integration after acquiring another advisory firm is no longer a huge headache. Your technology platform is infinitely scalable.
While those operational efficiencies are a huge benefit to the firm as a whole, virtual desktops are a benefit to your employees as well. Moving to a VDI empowers the user with fast, compliant, and secure access to your RIA firm’s network to serve clients from any location. Your team can travel more, work from their home office, or work from the client’s site. Your team will have the same exact computing experience as if they were in the corporate office.
With this untethered ability to work from anywhere, how do you ensure that you have the applicable security practices and protocols in place to protect your firm’s and your clients’ sensitive data?
In moving to a virtual desktop solution, you improve your RIA firm’s ability to meet the the cybersecurity risks related to people, technology, and third party vendors. Many reports have shown that the physical location of your data matters less than the access to it.
Cloud-based platforms usually focus more on security and governance than systems built inside of firewalls.
Cloud-based systems offer multiple layers of security, far beyond what most businesses can afford on their own. From multi-factor authentication to 24/7 monitoring by cybersecurity experts, anti-virus software and other sophisticated security tools, cloud systems are often more secure than an RIA firm can accomplish with their own internal system.
Since VDI uses a cloud network, with the help of a Qualified Technology Partner who knows the RIA industry and SEC compliance standards inside and out, your RIA firm can improve its ability to meet the SEC cybersecurity standards, especially Governance and Risk Assessment, Access Rights & Controls, and Data Loss Protection.
3. Business Continuity
With local area infrastructure, you depend on your physical office to stay connected and productive. As recent years have proven, things happen much more frequently to disrupt business – natural disasters, pandemics, power outages, etc. If you can’t work, you aren’t making money and potentially losing customers. With VDI, your business never has to shut down because it eliminates the need for a physical office.
Operational efficiency, improved security, and business continuity are three solid reasons why a VDI is a competitive advantage that allows your RIA firm to smartly leverage technology to meet your business needs.
Want to learn more about what a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure could do for your firm? Request information here.
If you have any questions on choosing the network infrastructure or creating a robust business continuity plan for your RIA firm, please contact us. We’re happy to answer any questions you have.