Category Archives: Envision Financial Systems

Brian Jones of Envision Financial Systems wins 2020 Nicsa NOVA Strategic Leadership Award

Brian Jones of Envision Financial Systems wins 2020 Nicsa NOVA Strategic Leadership Award

December 18, 2020

(Costa Mesa, Calif., Dec. 17, 2020) – Envision Financial Systems, Inc., a leading provider of real-time investor recordkeeping technology and transfer agency services, is proud to announce that Brian Jones, Executive Vice President, is a winner of the 2020 Nicsa NOVA Strategic Leadership Award.

Nicsa, a trade association with broad-based membership in the investment industry, awards its annual Strategic Leadership Award to one or more winners who have “demonstrated excellence through cutting-edge thought leadership and business solutions with a wide scope of influence across the global asset management industry.”

“Visionary navigation of industry trends requires excellence in thought leadership, exemplary adaptation of evolving fiduciary standards, and a dedication to the advancement of the client experience,” notes Nicsa in award materials. “Strategic Leadership Award winners demonstrate leadership through cutting-edge business solutions with a wide scope of influence across the asset management industry.”

Jones was honored for industry contributions across a 35-year career, including roles at Fidelity Investments and Federated Investors prior to joining Envision in 2004. His nomination highlighted the multiple instances where he has helped organizations modernize investor servicing and communications. At Envision, Jones is responsible for intermediary services, marketing, business development, strategic partnerships, and is part of the executive committee. Jones’ many contributions to Nicsa include six years on its national board of directors, and chair person or member of multiple committees, including the east coast, alternatives, broker dealer and general membership.

“For decades, Brian has been a force for positive change,” said Timothy Kan, Envision’s president and chief strategy officer. “In everything he’s done, Brian has been relentless in keeping the focus on the client experience while also hunting down inefficiencies and redesigning processes to optimize results. All of us at Envision applaud his industry-wide contributions—and are especially glad to have him on our team.”

Read more about the 2020 Nicsa NOVA award program and Nicsa’s news release announcing the winners. Also, view a Nicsa video interview with Jones.

About Envision Financial Systems, Inc.

Founded in 1994, Envision Financial Systems, Inc. is a premier provider of real-time investor recordkeeping technology and outsource solutions. Using in-depth knowledge of the industry and listening to its customers, Envision’s solutions enable firms with subaccounting needs to consolidate and control investor activity, increase representative and investor satisfaction, and help mitigate operational and economic risks. Envision supports over 450 investment companies, comprised of over 16,000 CUSIPS representing over $39 trillion is client assets. Envision’s headquarters are in Costa Mesa, California, with offices in Owings Mills, Maryland, Denver, Colorado and Bangalore, India. For more information, visit www.enfs.com.

Envision’s Lani Oneil Appointed to Nicsa Alternative Investments Committee

Envision’s Lani Oneil Appointed to Nicsa Alternative Investments Committee

December 18, 2020

(Costa Mesa, Calif., Dec. 18, 2020) – Envision Financial Systems, Inc., a leading provider of real-time investor recordkeeping technology and transfer agency services, announced the appointment of Lani Oneil, Vice President of Business Development, to the Nicsa Alternative Investments Committee. Nicsa is a trade group promoting education and operational best practices in the investment management industry.

Nicsa committees are designed to bridge the gap between all facets of the global asset management industry through active member engagement and leadership. The Alternative Investments Committee focuses on industry standardization and best practices between alternative investment product providers, distributors and service firms.

“As a provider of technology solutions for alternative investment sponsors, it is great to have another connection to investment manufacturers and others who support the alternative investments community,” said Oneil. “I look forward to representing Envision and adding value as an engaged committee member.”

Envision is dedicated to expanding within the alternative marketplace. In order to serve a broader range of asset managers and alternative investment administrators, Envision has been focused on increasing its alternative investment solutions. Oneil’s efforts to grow the distribution of the company’s shareholder recordkeeping products and services has been integral to this expansion.

“Lani will be an effective member of the committee thanks to her years of experience and in-depth knowledge of the industry,” said Brian Jones, Executive Vice President of Envision Financial Systems. “We are proud to have her serve as a representative of Envision.”

About Envision Financial Systems, Inc.

Founded in 1994, Envision Financial Systems, Inc. is a premier provider of real-time investor recordkeeping technology and outsource solutions. Using in-depth knowledge of the industry and listening to its customers, Envision’s solutions enable firms with subaccounting needs to consolidate and control investor activity, increase representative and investor satisfaction, and help mitigate operational and economic risks. Envision supports over 450 investment companies, comprised of over 21,555 CUSIPS representing over $39 trillion is client assets.  Envision’s headquarters are in Costa Mesa, California, with offices in Owings Mills, Maryland, Denver, Colorado and Bangalore, India. For more information, visit www.enfs.com.

ICI report on ops headaches for interval fund sponsors flags areas where help is sorely needed, easily found

ICI report on ops headaches for interval fund sponsors flags areas where help is sorely needed, easily found

December 7, 2020 | Tom Wiedecker 

An interesting recent paper from the ICI Broker/Dealer Advisory Committee, “Consider This: Interval Fund Operational Practices,” looks at several functional areas where interval fund sponsors run into operational challenges based on the unique characteristics of these products, which are designed to provide better liquidity than many alternative investments through a periodic share repurchase program. The paper considered Methods of Trading, Scheduling Repurchases and Subscription Periods, Communication, Trade Corrections, Share Class Conversions, and Distribution Processing and does a great job laying out the operational issues raised by interval funds for each activity.

The challenges are striking and they speak to the need for sponsors to seek the greatest flexibility possible when creating a shareholder accounting and servicing function. Looking at each of the seven functional areas addressed by the ICI report, a couple were especially frustrating for someone who spends their time working with forward looking investment organizations to develop technology solutions to simplify and optimize their shareholder accounting processes.

Methods of Trading

Intermediaries, the main engine for interval fund distribution, don’t have a standardized trading method for the products. The most popular platforms are DTCC’s Alternative Investment Product (AIP) platform and NSCC’s Fund/SERV.

The ICI notes that many accounting systems used by funds and intermediaries integrate with one or the other, but not both and, “as a result, interval funds traded through Fund/SERV may not be able to be easily distributed by intermediaries that are only integrated with AIP for interval funds, and vice versa.”

To overcome that hurdle, the report indicates that some sponsors have built parallel functionality to support their interval funds on both platforms, requiring them to duplicate all fund-level activities and to merge trading and reporting activities from the two platforms back into their own operations. To complicate matters, the two platforms feature different settlement processes with different schedules.

So an interval fund sponsor’s options essentially boil down to cobbling together a kludgy, duplicative approach to trading or ignoring roughly half of the most important distribution channel.

That’s no way to run a railroad! Sponsors need a multilingual shareholder accounting system that is fluent in both AIP and Fund/SERV right out of the gate.

Scheduling Repurchase (and Subscription) Periods

The report also highlighted the practical challenges Interval fund sponsors face managing their defining feature—the regular offer to buy back shares from shareholders. Strict rules govern the subscription period and subsequent processing dates when shares are transacted and shareholder accounts updated. The report stresses the imperative for any accounting system to allow trades entered during the interval period to be processed and disallow them outside that window.

The ICI whitepaper also highlights the challenges of accurately communicating the interval status within the sponsor organization and to the broader distribution network.  This coordination can be especially difficult when holidays adjacent to the event come into play because sponsors tend to be short-staffed during holiday periods.

These special scheduling challenges associated with interval funds suggest that a shareholder accounting system supporting them needs to be rule based, automated and capable of communicating accurately with all stakeholders (and, ideally, with the systems supporting other products on the sponsor’s platform, including ‘40 Act funds).

Trade corrections

According the ICI report, “Interval fund trade corrections identified outside a repurchase or periodic subscription process date may have significant legal, operational, and portfolio ramifications for related transactions. As a result, those corrections may be restricted, limited, or denied. This leaves the intermediary and its related shareholder(s) subject to market risk and a less-than-ideal client experience.”

Any corrections should be memorialized via a sound audit trail.  This can be quite a challenge in cases where records are maintained via spreadsheets or processes not supported with appropriate checks and balances.   A shareholder accounting system for interval funds, where the inability to quickly correct an error can have serious economic and reputational consequences, needs to be nimble and relational so that the correction can be confidently and accurately applied.

Conclusion 

Executing trades, accurately adhering to the calendar and correcting errors are just three of the trouble areas highlighted in the ICI’s recent report. It was more than a little traumatic to read the whole thing and be reminded of all the headaches interval fund sponsors deal with every day as they cobble together their own solutions for administering these fascinating, but operationally cumbersome, products.

Why go it alone? We’ve been working with fund sponsors for more than 25 years and have already solved many of the operational challenges the ICI report outlines.  Further, we can help craft agile, integrated solutions for the full array of traditional and alternative products. Even those that trade at intervals.

This article was originally published in The DIWire.

How FAs win by going all in with automation: A Blue Vault Webinar Recap

How FAs win by going all in with automation: A Blue Vault Webinar Recap

November 15, 2020

“Water seeks its own level,” said Envision Executive, Brian Jones. “If you’re not offering a robust digital experience—for advisors and investors—they’re going to complain and go somewhere else.”

Jones was speaking at a recent panel hosted by Blue Vault where he was joined by executives from CNB Custody and Wealthforge for a discussion of the benefits to financial advisors of automating shareholder operations associated with alternative investment products as well as the obstacles that may be preventing them from doing so.

Jones told the audience that many organizations he meets with still rely on manual processes for alternative products and use tools such as spreadsheets that are not well suited for the job. He recommended investment sponsors conduct an audit of their processes to gauge how much time and money is spent on tasks that could be automated.

He described a firm Envision helped with such an exercise where new account onboarding takes two hours, distributions take a full week of staff time and the quarterly statement process is a two-week undertaking. (That two-hour estimate for opening new accounts tracked with a snap poll of the audience that indicated the process takes 2-4 hours).

Any evaluation of back office processes, Jones added, should also consider another cost: The business, financial and reputational risk that comes with errors. He said that with manual processing, not-in-good-order rates for alternative investment products (the audience’s number one frustration, according to another snap poll question) can be as high as 40% and the mistakes can take several weeks to cure. “With automated onboarding, those NIGO rates can be brought down to single digits and with a lot less turnaround time,” Jones said.

Robust advisor attendance at the virtual panel, and another flash poll audience question, suggested a high degree of advisor interest in automation. Asked whether automation of alternative investment processes is a priority in the next six months, two-thirds of the attendees said “yes.”

So, what’s holding back greater adoption of automated shareholder processes? The audience poll indicated many advisors believe their customers “aren’t comfortable with electronic signatures or processes.” But Jones suggested that one beneficial upshot of the pandemic may be that advisors and their customers become more open to new ways of doing things. “COVID itself is going to cause people to make some changes to their processes,” he said. “For example, who wants to run to the bank to get a medallion [signature guarantee] anymore?”

Envision Financial Systems named 2020 WealthManagement.com Industry Awards Finalist…

Envision Financial Systems named 2020 WealthManagement.com Industry Awards Finalist for breaking STP barrier for alternative investments

July 29, 2020 | Envision Financial Systems, Inc.

Envision Financial Systems, Inc., a leading provider of real-time investor recordkeeping technology and transfer agency services, was named a finalist in the WealthManagement.com 2020 Industry Awards in the Technology Providers: Client Onboarding/New Account Opening category. The finalist nomination recognizes Envision’s success in replacing manual account-opening processes for alternatives products with straight-through, no data entry, processing.

Advisors and their clients are relieved of the manual data entry and hard-copy forms that have continued to plague the alternative investment space.

“Opening a new account shouldn’t have to take 20-40 days,” said Satnam Gambhir, CEO and chief design officer at Envision. “We are honored to be recognized for efforts to transform this cumbersome, paper-based process into a complete digital experience with an API toolset that can connect with all major on-boarding service providers and can cut the process down to as little as one day.”

Read Full Press Release

 

Envision Financial Systems Launches Upgraded Portal

Envision Financial Systems Launches Upgraded Portal

May 7, 2020 | Envision Financial Systems

Envision Financial Systems, Inc., a leading provider of real-time investor recordkeeping technology, today announced the launch of its new internet portal for financial representatives and investors. The new internet portal is part of the Envision Investor Management product suite used by investment product transfer agents, 529 program managers and broker dealers.

“More and more, financial professionals and their clients demand tailored access to account information regardless of the internet enabled device” said Brian Jones, executive vice president. “Security and accessibility in an easy to navigate and modern design is what everyone wants. We are so proud to announce our investor and financial intermediary web 2.0 products that address these requirements and more.

Envision Investor Management product suite already allows for its integrated internet portal to be configured by the investment company to its branding and the features and functions it would like to make available to its investors and financial intermediaries. These include real-time data capabilities such as online account inquiry, maintenance and trading abilities, and access to customer communication.

Read more…

Envision Financial Systems Expands Sales Force

Envision Financial Systems Expands Sales Force for New Opportunities

April 30, 2020 | Envision Financial Systems

Envision Financial Systems, Inc., a leading provider of real-time investor recordkeeping and other technology, today announced the addition of Lani Oneil as Vice President, Business Development. In her role, Oneil will be responsible for distributing Envision’s suite of shareholder recordkeeping products and services.

“We are seeing opportunities across the financial services markets where Envision’s products and services are a great fit,” said Brian Jones, Executive Vice President for Envision Financial Systems. “Lani’s experience working for asset managers and third party administrators, along with her prior success sourcing and cultivating opportunities will serve her well in her new role.”

Envision has been placing emphasis on increasing its services and core recordkeeping technology use by financial services firms in new ways.  This includes expanding its alternative investment solutions and institutional account servicing capabilities to serve a broader range of asset managers and investment administrators and to support additional investment vehicles.

Read more…

 

‘Clean up on aisle RMD!’…

‘Clean up on aisle RMD!’: The SECURE Act’s fast track surprised the fund industry, but we don’t mind surprises so much

March 30, 2020 | Tom Wiedecker | Envision Financial Systems

“We could certainly slow the aging process down if it had to work its way through Congress.” –Will Rogers

Will Rogers was a clever fellow and at times his comments about the pace of government were spot on. Occasionally, however, mandates and regulations do move quickly—and that’s what happened to the fund industry with the passage late last year of the SECURE Act. Though elements of the new law had been bouncing around for years and it was initially passed by the House last spring, the legislation looked to be stalled in the Senate. However, the bill was ultimately attached to fast track budget legislation that was quickly passed by the Senate and then signed by the president on Dec. 20.

It was an outcome that caught some in the fund industry a bit flat footed. In a comment letter to the IRS seeking relief, [1] the Investment Company Institute noted the “extremely short window before the date of the change” and suggested that administrators would have difficulty making changes in time to comply. “It is likely,” the ICI letter warned, “that some individuals will receive distributions from a plan or IRA in 2020 intended as RMDs under the prior rule and/or that an IRA provider will inadvertently provide an RMD notice for 2020 even though an RMD will not be due for that year.”

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Twenty-five Years of Challenging the Status Quo: The History of Envision Financial Systems

Twenty-five Years of Challenging the Status Quo: The History of Envision Financial Systems

January 22, 2020 | Envision Financial Systems

Envision Financial Systems has represented the quintessential American success story, growing from lunch meetings in a Newport Beach park to a successful North American company headquartered in Costa Mesa, Calif. With client installations representing over 470 fund families with 16,290 CUSIPs representing over 3.8 trillion in assets under administration and 16.6 million shareholder investment positions, Envision has built a successful business challenging the status quo in the shareholder accounting industry.

The Dream of Envision

Though it is celebrating its 25th anniversary as a company, the roots of Envision trace back more than 28 years to 1991 and the intersection of the brains behind Envision: Satnam Gambhir and Tim Kan.

Prior to founding Envision, Mr. Gambhir was Vice President of Information Systems at Analytic Investment Management, where he was responsible for the firm’s investment management systems. At the same time, Mr. Kan was employed by Stockmate Financial as the chief architect of real-time quotation data feeds. The two met in 1988 when Analytic Investment Management became a customer of Stockmate Financial, creating the environment for the spark that created Envision…

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Envision Financial Systems celebrates 25 years

Envision Financial Systems celebrates 25 years

January 22, 2020 | Envision Financial Systems

Envision Financial Systems, Inc., a leading provider of real-time investor recordkeeping technology, recently celebrated the firm’s 25th anniversary at its Costa Mesa office. From its beginnings over lunch meetings in Newport Beach Park, Envision has built a shareholder accounting solutions business representing over 470 mutual fund families and 16.6 million shareholder investment positions, challenging the status quo in the financial services industry.

Envision Financial Systems was officially founded in October of 1994 by Satnam Gambhir, Timothy Kan and investor Alan Lewis. They chose the name “Envision” to capture their discontent with mainframe-based technologies and the future they saw for contemporary technology in servicing mutual fund shareholders.

“Envision Financial Systems has represented the quintessential American success story and we are immensely proud of all of the individuals who have made this journey possible,” said Gambhir, CEO and chief design officer. “Envision has used its belief in flexible technologies and providing personalized experiences to its customers to shake up an industry looking for alternatives to mainframe stalwarts. With an aggressive focus on improving the client experience, the future looks bright for Envision.”

Read more…

An Influential Fintech Line-Up to Advance New “AltsTech Forum”

An Influential Fintech Line-Up to Advance New “AltsTech Forum”

December 4, 2019 | Blue Vault staff writer

Technology is quickly changing the landscape for wealth advisors who use alternative investments. To truly understand what best-in-class technology has to offer the alternatives investing space, Blue Vault is extremely pleased to add an AltsTech Forum to next year’s sixth annual Blue Vault Bowman Alts Summit.

With an all-star line-up of technology providers already committed to attend* and more on the way, agendas are currently being developed that will break down and prioritize the discussion to the real heart of the issue, which is to create building blocks to advance solutions for wealth advisors needing help with more efficient ways to process alts investments.

Blue Vault is very pleased to have Angie Fisher of CIM Group lead a team of technology specialists to create the value-packed AltsTech Forum agenda.  Securities attorney Kirk Montgomery, KAM, and technology experts Amber Wallner of Black Creek Group and Jeff LaFayette of Bluerock are collaborating with Fisher to tap into the fundamental issues needing to be addressed.

What can you expect? The industry’s most advanced technology professionals have committed to attend and participate by giving presentations and demonstrations about how their tech platforms are delivering real results, making efficiency a top priority.  There will be panel discussions to address the various issues, as well as challenges, currently needing solutions.  The providers will also be exhibiting to further showcase their solutions and answer questions for attendees.    
 
The AltsTech Forum will be running simultaneously but separately with the traditional product presentation sessions.  Creating dialogue with industry peers and advancing the discussion to find solutions is the purpose of the Forum. 
 
“We think this dual track creates a much richer environment for the attendees,” said Stacy Chitty, Blue Vault managing partner. “While product presentations are being delivered in one room, tech solutions will be advanced in the other.  We’re excited about the participation commitments we’ve received so far.  While technology has lagged in the alts space in the past, technology cannot be ignored or lag anymore.”
 
Stay-tuned as we continue to roll out the details of the AltsTech Forum. Follow the latest event happenings via the hashtag #AltsSummit2020.

*As of December 4, the following professional services providers have committed to attend and exhibit at the Summit: AIX, Artivest, Boing Dynamics, BNY Mellon/Pershing, Centersky, Docupace, Envision Financial Systems, iCapital, Riskalyze, SS&C /ALPS, and WealthForge.

In case you missed it, Blue Vault recently hosted a webinar titled, “How is Technology advancing Alternative Investments?” Moderated by Angie Fisher of CIM Group, panelists included Mike Huisman of Envision Financial Systems, Inc., Michael Page of Riskalyze, and Kevin Zwick of WealthForge. To visit that one-hour webinar, click here.