What do general ledgers, governance and data visualization all have in common? They all lend themselves to different types of family office software.
At SEI Family Office Services, we spend an extraordinary amount of time discussing financial technology or, more specifically, wealthtech for family offices. But in addition to the vast array of traditional accounting and investment tools available to family offices, there are a number of other solutions that can play a role in their broader technology stack.
To help show just how far family office technology spans, we’ve compiled a list of back-, middle- and front-office solutions ranging from investment portfolio software to compliance and collaboration tools.
Here are a few types of software that family offices may include within their end-to-end technology ecosystem:
Accounts Payable Software
Whether you’re working in-office or remotely, managing a family office’s accounts payable and bill payment processes often requires collaboration across locations, staff members and end-client stakeholders. In a nutshell, accounts payable software allows your team to manage the collection of vendors, invoices, checking accounts and credit cards that exist in family offices with multiple generations or households.
With the right tool, family offices can automate bill reviews, invoice storage, accounts payable data entry, expense approvals, payment settlement and expense and cash flow reporting. There are several different types of accounts payable solutions available to family offices, but choosing a system that integrates with your primary accounting and reporting platform can help you deliver more holistic financial insights to your accounting staff and family members.
A client portal can serve a variety of purposes. Generically, client portals represent a digital application where family members can access some facet of their personal data. Client portals can take shape as document exchange mechanisms, family communication tools or personal financial reporting apps.
For example, the Archway Client Portal functions as an on-demand, interactive client reporting tool that allows users to view their total net worth using customizable dashboards and data views. Family members can assess their individual holdings, asset allocation, investment performance, cash balances and expenses, as well as review routine reports and approve bills.
Data Visualization and Reporting Tools
Data visualization and reporting tools can be layered over multiple systems to stitch disparate data together in a consumable, tailored fashion. These tools can help family offices create custom reports that depict basic financial information as well as more sophisticated reporting that can help investment professionals analyze performance using metrics like time-weighted and money-weighted returns, Multiple on Invested Capital (MOIC), risk analytics and other relevant measurements.
While not always a necessity (particularly if you’re using an open architecture or integrated platform with built-in custom family office reporting options) data visualization software can be a good option for family offices that are aggregating data in a data warehouse.
Document Management Tools
Document managers were popularized due to their strict security features and ability to quickly share important documents with multiple interested parties. Today, document management tools can still be utilized as standalone technology, but it’s also common to see them built directly into software packages—including the Archway PlatformSM—allowing users to upload and organize legal agreements, invoices, reports, custodial or banking statements and other documents critical to the family office.
While spreadsheets lack the security and sophistication of purpose-built family office technology, they remain an integral part of many family office’s operation—for better or worse. Given their blank canvas nature, spreadsheets are often used to:
- Prepare financial statements like balance sheets and income statements
- Plan and monitor budgets
- Manage partnership allocations and entity ownership
- Aggregate asset values and net worth
- Create custom reports
If your family office is still relying on spreadsheets, keep in mind that many of today’s modern family office solutions allow you to perform these same tasks with added layers of security, quality assurance and automation.
Family Governance Software
Family governance software unifies family members for collaborative endeavors like reviewing grant applications, managing family and board member meetings and sharing private family information. These types of tools can also help centralize legacy family documents, family history educational content and important family announcements.
A capable general ledger software is key to running an efficient family office. While the familiarity of industry-agnostic accounting tools can be challenging to part with, general ledgers designed for family offices can take days, weeks and even months off of your routine accounting processes. Using a family office-specific accounting system can allow your accountants to efficiently look across entities, manage intercompany transactions and prepare consolidated financials—without the burden of manually combining multiple files or ledger instances.
Optical Character Recognition (OCR) Software
OCR software is used to recognize text in digital images, eliminating the need to manually enter data. Family offices can use this technology to automate the collection of data off of invoices, manager statements and other types of recurring documents.
Portfolio Intelligence Tools
Portfolio intelligence tools can provide enhanced analysis and insight into a family office’s investment portfolios. Occasionally used independently, but commonly packaged together with other accounting or investment platforms, these tools can provide powerful portfolio analytics that can help inform investment decisions and maximize investment performance potential.
Interested in learning more about portfolio intelligence? Check out SEI NovusSM, used by family offices to deliver deeper multi-asset class insights, perform what-if analyses, conduct manager due diligence and deliver sophisticated stakeholder reporting.
Portfolio Management Systems
Keeping track of the family’s overall wealth can be a difficult task when using multiple systems to track investments, accounts, managers and custodians. Portfolio management systems provide family offices with a powerful tool to aggregate assets in a single, centralized database, which is essential to providing holistic net worth reporting. Solutions like the Archway Platform offer fully-integrated accounting and portfolio management capabilities.
Trust Administration Software
Trust administration software provides dedicated technology to centralize and manage data related to the family’s network of trusts. From digital account opening tools, CRM-style entity management, automated account reviews and electronic approvals, trust administration software can play an important role in the family office.
Automated workflow tools allow you to define processes, create and assign tasks and monitor progress. Featuring custom controls and approvals, workflow software can be molded to your family office’s unique processes through pre-defined sequencing and automated triggers. This type of technology can be particularly important for compliance-, audit- and security-focused family office operations.
Keep in mind that every family office’s technology strategy will feature a different combination of solutions. If you’re curious about other types of software that can feed into the family office technology ecosystem, check out our blog on Integrated Technology for Family Offices and High-Net-Worth Individuals for a list of additional financial tools to consider when designing your own family office wealthtech stack.
As an integrated family office software solution, the Archway PlatformSM checks many of the boxes when it comes to family office wealthtech.
Take a tour of SEI’s Archway Platform to learn more about how our solutions efficiently handle complex partnership, portfolio and corporate accounting alongside bill payment, investment management, multi-asset class data aggregation and comprehensive wealth and financial reporting.
Product Solutions Manager – SEI Family Office Services
Paul Francis is currently a member of the SEI Family Office Services team serving as the first point of contact for prospective clients interested in the firm's software and service solutions. He is responsible for conducting initial product demonstrations to professionals within financial institutions as well as collecting industry feedback and trends to further SEI’s product development and innovation. Prior to this role, Paul was a member of the Client Relations team where he was the subject matter expert on data integrations resulting in streamlined internal processes for monitoring data feeds and improved efficiency in addressing integration-related inquiries.
Paul holds a Bachelor of Science in Finance and Entrepreneurship from Ball State University. Outside of work, he enjoys spending time on the lake and traveling with his wife and their two dogs.