The findings in this blog post come from our annual survey of over 1,500 registered investment adviser ("RIA") firms that was conducted in the first quarter of 2018. 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 he growth, size, or operational efficiency of an RIA firm. In this blog post, we focus on the top document storage software used by RIA firms.
The adoption of document storage software can offer a compelling return on investment to investment advisory firms of all sizes. Starting at as little as 10 to 20 dollars a month, an advisor can benefit from secure cloud storage for all client files and firm documents. Such software can help the RIA firm meet regulatory compliance requirements, reduce hardware costs, streamline operations, and improve the client experience. Furthermore, the leading cloud-based document storage providers also feature some of the best user experiences available in the financial services industry.
RIA Adoption Rate of Document Storage Software
In our previous post focused on what types of technology systems RIA firms tend to adopt, we highlighted that when firms start to invest in technology they tend to start with either 1) financial planning software or 2) document storage software. For RIA firms adopting 4 or more types of technology systems, 88.8% of such firms have implemented document storage software.
According to our latest survey results, an average of 43% of all RIA firms are using some form of could-based document storage software. This is down slightly from last year's figure of 48%:
RIA Document Storage Software Adoption Rate by Firm AUM Size
Similar to other types of RIA technology solutions such as customer relationship management or portfolio management and reporting software, larger firms are much more likely to adopt a document storage solution. Over the past 3 years, the popularity of document storage solutions has grown with larger advisory firms:
We believe some of the increased adoption rate by larger firms is a result of a growing RIA industry comfort level with cloud-based document storage solutions. We continue to generally recommend that investment advisers utilize secure cloud storage solutions when possible given the security features, operational efficiency, back up capabilities, and likely cost savings.
Top Document Storage Software Adopted by RIA Firms
Today in the RIA industry two major players dominate cloud document storage: Box and Dropbox. While our latest investment adviser technology landscape infographic features a number of financial advisor focused document storage solutions such as Docupace or NetDocuments, such solutions presently have limited market share in the RIA space. On the other hand, Box and Dropbox are both general software solutions that are not primarily designed for the investment adviser or broader financial services industry. However, as each has expanded and gained credibility in recent years, their market share in the investment adviser industry has continued to increase.
It's also important to note that while both Box and DropBox offer free consumed-focused versions, investment advisers should strongly consider adopting the paid commercial versions which offer not only additional customization, but also greater information security features. In addition, RIA firms should ensure that all document storage solutions are properly secured and backed-up.
This post is the fourth of five blog posts that will focus on the core technology solutions available to investment advisory firms with past posts focusing on financial planning, customer relationship management ("CRM") and portfolio management and reporting software. In the final post, we will look at wrap up our series of blog posts with a detailed look at portfolio risk software solutions.