December 22, 2005

Microsoft Enters Advisor Business

Web-based platform designed to tie together back-office systems

Microsoft Corp. has introduced a Web portal to tie together disparate back-office systems into a "seamless" platform that will allow advisors to provide "more holistic advice" to their wealth management clients. Called the Microsoft Advisor Platform, the application was announced Dec. 19 and uses Microsoft's .NET and service-oriented architecture (SOA) to provide a portal through which advisors can run financial planning and CRM applications, allowing advisors to "store unified customer information, create projects in virtual work spaces, and exchange instant messages with their teammates."

Bill Hartnett, general manager of Microsoft's Financial Services Strategy and Solutions unit, argues that the Platform fits in with Microsoft's goal that while "technology is too complicated, we've poured a ton of R&D money into making it less so." Hartnett says that customers of the Platform will come from all corners of the advisory busines--from wirehouses to regional broker/dealers--but that the independent advisor is the "sweet spot." Since advisors of all kinds are heavy users of Microsoft applications, that comfort level with the look and feel of Microsoft through the Platform will give them access to a range of information providers and applications through Microsoft's partners that will allow the advisor to provide that holistic advice to clients in an efficient manner.

Among the partners in the new offering are AdviceAmerica Inc. and Capgemini.

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