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What RIA Firms Should Consider When Evaluating Switching to a Cloud Infrastructure

In our last post we shared the different models of IT network infrastructures available to RIA firms to meet the computing needs of the firm. Now that you understand your IT infrastructure options, here are three things every RIA firm should consider when evaluating how to implement or upgrade its network technology design.

Security

A cloud-based infrastructure does require instituting policies for due diligence, oversight of your hosting and application vendors, and employee remote access security procedures. Anytime there is remote access capability, there is more of a risk of a security breach. Which seems to indicate that having a local network is more secure. However, technology options and risks change so fast. If your firm doesn’t really have the knowledge and resources to manage an on-site server and infrastructure then managing your IT needs in-house might not be the most secure option.

On the flip side, if you choose to outsource the hosting of some or all of your applications and data in the cloud, that hosting vendor must keep your data safe. It is your job to research and review their security statements to make sure they can meet your security needs so that you don’t have any issues with cyber attacks, SEC and FINRA compliance mandates, or unrecoverable data.

When researching a hosted vendor always ask for compliance documents, if these documents are not posted publicly, to make sure your data is safe with this chosen vendor.

Resources

Compliance regulations, technology offerings, new software applications, cyber security, and the pure amount of data RIAs must work with on a daily basis makes IT management one of the most important jobs within your firm as well as one of the most complex. Do you have the resources or desire to staff an entire IT Department of their own?

Moving into a hybrid environment may help alleviate the financial liability of hosting your infrastructure locally. Some of the items/costs to evaluate include: application/server up-time, hardware costs, management costs, security, disaster recovery, etc.

Financially, if your firm is just starting you might not have the cash flow to take on a big investment in local infrastructure. Start with what you can and reevaluate your infrastructure to make any changes as you grow.

Complexity

How complex are your computing and technology needs? Is capacity an issue? How many advisers do you have? The more people you have, the greater the need for a dedicated line to handle the upload demands.
Not all tools work well in a cloud infrastructure. Take a look at your mission critical software applications and evaluate whether moving them to a cloud environment would negatively affect work flow.
How fast are you growing? It can be quicker and easier to add capacity to your system with a cloud infrastructure. Just upgrade your service package. Do you provide complex, customized reports for your clients? Can you not find a vendor software solution that really meets your needs? The complexity of your needs could drive your decision.

If you need help identifying your firms’ technology needs or evaluating the infrastructure options to best meet those needs, give us a call at 888-996-4642. We are happy to talk this through with you. We only serve RIA firms, so we understand the complexities of your industry and can share best practices in technology design to help you grow your business.

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