Keeping a finger on the pulse of wealth management technology

This article first appeared in Wealth Adviser on 28th April 2015.

With over 22 years of experience of providing technology support from the front to back office in the wealth management industry, Pulse Software Systems has seen some significant changes.

The firm is bringing out the sector's first browser-based 'single page application' platform, Fusion, designed to give wealth managers an application suite that includes a 'tool kit' that will enable firms to tailor their offering and safeguard critical points of differentiation in their business in one single unified environment.

The new platform is a flexible and fluid solution that provides firms with a sound base for onward development. It will also enable fast and convenient 'any time, anywhere' access across multiple mobile devices.

Pulse’s commercial director, Paul Mepham, explains that the firm, founded in 1993, was originally a tech start up launched from current chief executive officer, Mike Nicholls’ home and has evolved into a company that numbers 30 wealth management firms among its clients, managing assets in the region of GBP100 billion.

A lot has happened over those 20-odd years in terms of regulatory and market changes which have driven the various iterations of the software. Mepham says: "The software is scalable so we have firms ranging in size from those managing a few hundred million to those managing many billions. They are all focused on discretionary private wealth management but also have other attributes to their business such as advisory arms, in-housefunds as well as the management of pension and institutional monies."

Mepham believes that a combination of the history of the firm, the strong focus on one market vertical and a client base which has an active and collaborative user group keeps them ahead in the field.

"Our active user group shares ideas with each other and us, so we are always focused on regulatory changes and influences. That collective enables large firms to get their say but also the smaller firms as well."

The biggest challenges Pulse has seen over its history are regulatory, partly due to the reaction to the global financial crisis.

"Previously technology was the innovator but now the drive is coming from the regulatory side of things and is taking up the focus of most of our clients’ time" Mepham says. He finds that, because of the regulatory burden driving firms in the same direction, there is a bigger need now for firms to differentiate themselves and personalise their offering to the end investor.

"The requirements change" Mepham says "But also the end investor is becoming more sophisticated in understanding not only the investment process but also technology. Investors expect everything to be available on a real time basis and they want communication through an App or via the managers website."

Pulse provides client portals for end investors to access their investment firms’ websites.

"Historically the bulk of the money was with the older generation so our clients assumed they were dealing with retirement demographics with no appetite for on line facilities but now the demand for online access can come equally from a silver surfer."