The business world is migrating to cloud-based operations and you should follow suit. The most sophisticated system for small businesses is Microsoft’s Office 365, and it also offers the best compliance system for financial advisors.
This Website Is For Financial Professionals Only
In a new webinar on Advisors4Advisors, Office 365 expert Robert Clark goes into detail about what the subscription online service offers and how it can help you take your practice to the next level.
“It’s essentially the same software…used by the largest companies in the land, and this capability and power is now available and affordable for small businesses,” said Clark, who is managing principal of LucidPointe, a member of the Microsoft Office 365 Partner Network. As a Microsoft partner, Clark helps small businesses and professionals such as accountants and financial advisors set up and implement the Office 365 system. Clearly that means he believes that Office 365 is the best cloud productivity product, and I agree with him. He shares his own research in the field in this wide-ranging webinar.
What Is Office 365?
Office 365 gives you a full IT infrastructure that provides you with the familiar office software that we are all most accustomed to, Word, Excel, etc. A very important point: Each of these software programs is updated continually and automatically, so you no longer have to worry how it looks when you use out-of-date programs and applications.
Another major point: IT headaches such as virus protection, backup and maintenance comes with your monthly subscription. Speaking of which, subscription costs range from $5 per user per month to $22 per user per month, depending on the range of services you need.
Office365 runs your e-mail and provides a variety of team-based collaboration programs and communications apps such as high-definition videoconferencing. Since everything is uploaded to the cloud, you can access your files and applications from anywhere as long as you have an Internet connection, even from a friend’s computer. The subscription also allows for syncing among five different devices per user, from PCs and Macs to iPhones and Androids.
Clark offers several examples of how you can use Office 365 to increase productivity in your own office. For instance, the OneDrive program fosters teamwork by making it incredibly easy to share documents. Once you’ve uploaded or edited a document, just click “share” and type in the email address of anyone you’d like to share it with. That person will receive an email with an easy-to-click link that will take them directly to the document.
Another example is the online version of Excel. Type in some data and the program will actually recommend the right type of chart for you to use!
Finally, Microsoft is working hard to keep up with new trends in communications and collaboration: Office 365 includes an app called Yammer, a social network for private enterprises similar to Facebook. Young people coming out of college today expect to work together through online social networks, and Yammer keeps your company on the cutting edge of that trend. Office 365 also offers a website development program that allows you to set up a public-facing website.
Taking Care Of Compliance
Regulated business owners such as financial advisors must always be concerned about compliance with regulatory mandates, and Microsoft has designed Office 365 with that in mind, Clark notes. To start with, all information is encrypted, both as it travels from your devices to the cloud, and as it’s transmitted between data centers. Microsoft also allows you to set up:
- Multi-factor authentication, meaning access requires more than just a password.
- Expiration dates for passwords.
- Data Loss Prevention (DLP) measures, such as flagging emails that appear to contain credit card data.
Rating And Comments
Clark received an average rating of 4.2 for the webinar
. Comments included:
“Would like to have Mr. Clark’s insight to “ongoing” training for Office 365 for RIA firms.”
“Good, needed information. Thank you.”
“Would like to learn more about his services.”
“Needed more info on custom apps like ACT and Portfolio Center.”
“This material and presentation was very interesting and informative. Andy was correct in his assessment of the importance of knowing about Office 365. Presenter did not come across as “salesy” as some indicated, at least to me. On the negative side, I did begin with Exchange Online earlier this year, and the support was disastrous at Microsoft. They were unable to do anything to assist, I was passed around to countless people here and overseas, and ultimately, I had to hire an independent consultant.”
“Very good presentation.”
“Yes. However, I would have appreciated more information re compliance. RIAs are required to do offsite backup. Does the Microsoft 365 meet this requirement?”
“Would have liked to have some cost issues discussed.”
"Andrew, this was excellent. Thank you for finding experts like this and thanks for putting that guy in his place that asked for the end of the sales pitch. While the presentation leaned to Microsoft Office 365, anyone who is making the decision has every right to hear from the Google rep also.”
“Good information, but questionable objectivity.”
“Great help on this issue. I would have like to see a live walkthrough of the software though.”
Some of the presentation was a sales pitch. I was looking for more education to clear up the frustrating and confusing presentation MSFT has on what appears to be a very good product.”
“Too much time on elementary stuff, most of us understand the basics of the cloud. Too much time on Google vs. MS, and not enough time spent on the guts of the software.”
Geared a little too much toward people that aren’t big technology users, it seemed, which is fine, but not as appropriate for me or my firm.”
“It was vague.”
“I could not tell if there was any difference between the business 360 and the home 360 except for Exchange on the business 360. (I do not require Exchange. My broker/dealer provides that service.) What is the difference between Lync and Skype? I actually have a home Office 365 account. I wanted to know if I was missing something not having the business 360. I still don't know the answer to that question.”
“Excellent! Just what was needed. Thanks Andy.”
“I do (respectfully) think that it was too one-sided. Convictions are what they are, but there are certain relevant facts that could (should) have been mentioned such as integrations w/Android and/or iOS devices. To suggest that Google is the loser on every important point is just not being objective.”
“Not be construed as disrespect! And I do appreciate the time that both of you put into this. I just like hearing pros and cons to any proposal. All I heard was pros and pros about MS 365.”
“Very informative and very current.”