This is a collection of questions we have been asked by single and multi-family office managers, High Net Worth Individuals, wealthy families, trust and estate attorneys, and other advisors. Some questions need only a simple answer. Others require a more in depth explanation. We hope you will find them helpful.
1. Why is DWIMBS more than just another accounting or investment management platform?
DWIMBS is a Financial Information Management and Business Intelligence System that includes double-entry accounting, general ledger, asset management, and non-traditional financial information. It provides an extremely flexible and powerful back-office platform: specifically, its forensic accounting features, integrated with a relational database, are all built around a proven methodology for delivering true financial control, giving you unmatched ability to track and display all aspects of a family’s wealth, along with all the functionality needed to meet the standard accounting needs and functions such as general ledger, chart of accounts, and bill paying,
DWIMBS has the added advantage of being able to combine and present the collected information over a wide range of both financial and NON-financial reports. For instance, the “Risk Management at a Glance” report can list all assets that are or should be insured, their valuation, whether the policy is in effect, who the insurer is, and the name and phone number of the agent.
It is this non-financial but critical information that is usually short-changed or outright ignored by the leading “investment advisor-centric” aggregation packages. Such off-the-shelf applications tend to be very complicated and expensive to tailor to a specific family office’s needs. The result is you wind up paying through the nose for additional features and you still do not get something that makes your job easier and more cost-effective.
By contrast, the DWIMBS core system provides a solid foundation on which to add whatever additional functions you need to make your job easier and give clients greater control of all their wealth.
2. Can DWIMBS be used for both a single-family and a multi-family office? Is there any limit to the number of families whose data I can capture and report on?
DWIMBS is extremely scalable. It is ideal for the single family office and the small multi-family office looking to grow. Be it one family, a multi-generational extended family, or a thousand separate families, the only limit to the number DWIMBS can handle is the amount of available memory on the server.
3. I’m concerned that switching to a new system will place an undue burden on my administrative team; have you thought about this issue?
We sure have thought about it! We train and educate your administrative team in how to use our system, with both a quick start basic session and more in depth “power user” training. The logic and consistency of the entry screens and methodology for capturing and organizing data make it easy for anyone with basic bookkeeping or accounting skills to learn. The short time it takes on the front end to learn the basics means within a matter of weeks you will begin to see the amazing degree to which DWIMBS makes your team MORE productive and MORE efficient than ever before! While learning to use DWIMBS is easy, we have found that what takes time initially is the forensic process needed to sort things out if there has been a less than optimal system in use before. While we have streamlined the process, such as the ability to import historical data, it still takes time to locate and sort out everything before getting it entered into DWIMBS. The good news is once it’s in, you don’t have to enter it again. Eliminating re-entry of data is just one of the big labor and time savers that DWIMBS provides.
4. I’m currently working in QuickBooks – how do I know if my data can be successfully imported into your application?
A standard feature of DWIMBS is its Import function – it allows for the easy import of historical data from accounting platforms like QuickBooks.
5. I’m currently working in Quicken – how do I know if my data can be successfully imported into your application?
A standard feature of DWIMBS is its Import function – it allows for the easy import of historical data from accounting platforms like Quicken.
6. I’m currently working in MS Excel – how do I know if my data can be successfully imported into your application?
The Import function (a standard feature in DWIMBS) allows for the easy import of historical data from MS Excel. You simply start by converting your data into CSV files, then use the Import function in DWIMBS.
7. I’m currently working in a proprietary accounting platform – how do I know if my data can be successfully imported into your application?
So long as your accounting platform allows for converting your historical data to CSV files, the import of historical data residing in that platform into DWIMBS follows the same straightforward process as importing your data from QuickBooks or MS Excel.
8. I need to work in a multi-currency environment because my wealthy clients have assets in many countries around the globe – how can DWIMBS help me?
One of the standard features of DWIMBS is its ability to accept financial data in multiple currencies, and then convert all that data into a currency of the client’s choosing, so that all reports are in that currency. If, in addition, you want your reports to be displayed in one or more other currencies, that additional feature can be added to DWIMBS as a special request.
9. I run a Family Office and clients are asking for a more complete picture of their assets and net worth than before, which requires a lot of additional time and effort for both myself and my team. Can DWIMBS help me?
The guiding principle behind DWIMBS is to provide the client with a complete, comprehensive, and accurate picture of their wealth as a whole – all their assets, of every type. To fulfill this vision, we have designed all DWIMBS reports so that they’re easy to read and understand. Each report format is designed to include a big picture snapshot, along with sufficient detail that lets you quickly understand what makes up that snapshot. It is this combination of the big picture plus the needed details that is missing from most off-the-shelf products and makes the DWIMBS reports so logical, easy-to-understand, and truly useful, and that provides actionable strategic insight.
10. My clients are too busy to read the reports I prepare for them – can you provide me with “dashboards” and analysis that I could use to show them critical information in a brief, easy-to-understand format?
In addition to making the complete picture of the client’s wealth available in easy-to-read reports, DWIMBS also has the capability to display critical data points from key reports in a “dashboard” format. However, an important point to keep in mind is that one of the main reasons why traditional financial reports are so time-consuming is that, because of regulatory concerns, they present everything all together. The information you need is in there somewhere, but good luck finding it. The design of all DWIMBS report templates (snapshot plus detailed notes) dramatically reduces the time, effort, and expertise needed to understand the deeper significance of the data.
The danger we have seen with a reliance on dashboards is that they contribute to an illusion of control. Like a fresh coat of paint on a house with a leaking basement, they tend to be used as a substitute for in-depth, granular understanding – which leads to mistaking an overview for a complete picture. Dashboards have a place, but in order to have complete control you need more. That’s why part of our methodology includes what we call a Strategic Insight Briefing. This is a choreographed process that walks your client through the various reports in such a way that they fully understand them and how they work together/interact, and thereby derive full insight. This is in the interest of both the wealthy family, as they get to reap the full benefit of strategic information management, and the Family Office, since it fully captures the tangible value, ROI, and opportunities for action provided by the system.
11. My clients want to know how much distribution they’ve received from an investment and its tax implications – can DWIMBS provide such information?
With DWIMBS, your clients will get BOTH detailed investment information AND a report on the tax implications of this information. You can also easily forward those reports to authorized advisors. This will allow their tax advisor to be fully aware of the client’s tax obligations on an ongoing basis, as well as enable them to more accurately plan in advance how to handle their liabilities for the current year.
12. The cost of preparing my tax returns for all my entities is way too high and rising annually – can your system reduce the amount of time my tax advisor needs to put together my tax returns?
Absolutely! The “Tax Reconciliation Report” – unique to DWIMBS – is intended for the use of the client’s tax advisors, and has been designed to significantly reduce the amount of time they need to prepare tax returns. We can make this promise because the DWIMBS architecture has been built from day one to capture, aggregate, and organize all tax-related consequences of the financial transactions it captures.
13. My clients need to be compliant with the varied tax requirements of multiple countries since they have assets spread across the globe – how can you help them?
For each country for which a client needs to prepare tax returns, DWIMBS will be able to incorporate a complete list of all required returns and their due dates. The DWIMBS architecture makes it easy to capture and organize the needed information right from the start.
14. I get all these reports from my investment advisors, my tax advisors, and my estate attorney … but none of these provide me with a complete and easily understandable picture of what I’m really worth – can you help me with this problem?
Indeed, one of the main reasons for the creation of DWIMBS was to solve this universal problem! The DWIMBS reports are designed to provide clients with Strategic Insight – a level of business intelligence not available from any other software package … business intelligence that can serve as the evidence base for making business decisions based on complete, accurate, and reliable information about your wealth.
15. How do I show my client that his estate planning and his risk management strategies are aligned?
The DWIMBS “Risk Management at a Glance” report gives your clients strategic, detailed information about what’s insured and what’s not. This information, coupled with their Balance Sheet with Notes to Financial Statements and the “Estate Liquidity Report,” lets them see if both plans are aligned or not.
16. I want to understand the flow of funds into and out of my various accounts – can you help me?
The Cash Flow Report in DWIMBS has been designed to provide the client with both detailed and aggregate information on the sources and uses of funds into and out of ALL accounts for ALL entities. This report can be consolidated to include multiple entities and a Grand Total across all entities at the end. The sources and uses of funds are organized according to Operating, Investing, and Financing activity.
17. What are the system requirements – i.e., what kind or computer, how much memory, etc.?
Here are the minimum recommended system requirements for the DWIMBS application. The runtime redistributable libraries install with the application if not present. The .net framework is a part of current windows installations. Crystal report runtime is part of the installation package. For the server IIS is the web server where the web services run and MSSQL Server is the database management system used.
The maximum number of records is limited by the amount of available memory on the server.
Processor (CPU) 1 GHz
RAM 1 GB
HDD 2 GB free storage
OS Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8
Runtime Redistributables Microsoft.NET 3.5 Framework, Crystal Reports Runtime 2008
Processor 2 GHz
RAM 1 GB
HDD 20 GB free storage
OS Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8
Runtime Redistributables Microsoft.NET 3.5 Framework
MSSQL Server 2005+
18. What are your payment options?
Payment options are: Annually, Quarterly at beginning of term, or Monthly. We accept the following payment mechanisms:
International clients: Wire Transfer or PayPal only
US-based clients: Check, Auto-debit, Credit Card, Wire Transfer, PayPal
19. Will DWIMBS work with my iPad?
We are in the process of adding the ability to interface with mobile platforms such as tablets and smart-phones. However, there are still significant security issues involved with mobile devices which we feel have yet to be dealt with effectively. In fact, because smart-phones have been specifically designed to be marketing platforms that track and record all your phone activity and your location (and tablets ride along on top of that smart-phone technology), we, as well as most of our clients, have legitimate concerns for their use as points of access to one’s confidential financial data. Add to that concern the proliferation of apps that allow a person or agency to turn on the mike or camera of such phones remotely, without your knowledge, and we feel that providing access through those devices must be approached with extreme caution and due diligence. To date, we are unsatisfied by the current industry remedies.
20. What about security? Are there any special restrictions?
DWIMBS has very strict requirements for user access, which requires having an approved user name and password. The web service only accepts requests and communicates with registered clients. Client registration is a one-time task where client and server exchange public keys. The application secures all data communicated between client and server using Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) algorithms. SSL certificate also secures the network communication between computers. Passwords are encrypted using one-way encryption algorithms.
Depending on the size and structure of your Family Office and who needs to use the system, we offer different levels of password-protected access. For instance, you can limit access so a client can see reports they need when they are traveling, but no data can be changed.
We continually keep up-to-date on the latest security threats and best practices, and we pass on alerts and recommendations to our customers. Our servers maintain multiple layers of state-of-the-art encryption, firewalls, back-up, and disaster recovery. If DWIMBS is installed on your own server, we will work with your tech people to make sure there are no conflicts with your existing security provisions. We also provide a Security White Paper which outlines additional protocols and practices that every business should employ to guard against the ever-growing creativity of both criminal and governmental hacking. (See also our concerns regarding mobile platforms above.)
In our experience, the most common security exposure usually involves human factors that compromise otherwise effective technology solutions. Leaving a desktop computer or laptop open and unattended at your office; letting children download and play games on a networked tablet; using an unsecured Wi-Fi hot spot; not regularly updating your anti-spy ware; using a universal password for all your accounts; writing the password on your wall calendar, etc. – these are all examples of the kind of human factors that expose your technology and, as a result, your financial data, to risk. Our white paper also includes a set of checklists that help you keep up with this critical area.
21. Can I get special functionality geared to the way my Family Office works?
Because no two family offices are the same, the DWIMBS architecture is designed to provide a core system that is easily customizable to meet your unique needs. DWIMBS provides an extremely flexible and powerful back-office platform: specifically, it is a forensic accounting application integrated with a relational database, all built around a proven methodology for delivering true financial control. Along with all the functionality needed to meet the standard accounting needs and functions, such as general ledger, chart of accounts, and bill paying, DWIMBS has the added advantage of being able to combine and present the collected information over a wide range of both financial and NON-financial reports. For instance, the “Risk Management at a Glance” report can list all assets that are insured, the insured value, whether the policy is in effect, who the insurer is, and the name and phone number of the agent. It works with the Inventory Report and lets you quickly identify discrepancies between the current valuation of an asset and the current insured value (over- or under-insured).
It is this non-financial but critical information that is usually short-changed or outright ignored by the leading “investment advisor-centric” aggregation packages. Such off-the-shelf applications tend to be very complicated and expensive to tailor to a specific family office’s needs. The result is that you wind up paying through the nose for additional features – and you still do not get something that makes your job easier and more cost-effective.
By contrast, the DWIMBS core system provides a solid foundation on which to add whatever additional functions you need to make your job easy and give clients greater control of all their wealth. While this approach may at first glance seem more costly, it ensures that the money you’ve invested gets you what you really want. And because DWIMBS is intended to be a custom solution without the cost and risks of “design and build,” any customization is carried out at cost.
22. I have a large number of assets in discretionary brokerage accounts. Can DWIMBS show me the allocation and performance of those accounts?
If you manage a large number of family trusts that are made up primarily of investment portfolios, funds of funds, and discretionary equity accounts, and don’t deal with the other non-investment aspects of a family’s wealth, you may be better served by one of the off-the-shelf data aggregation packages that let you monitor the market frequently through out the day. That said, the DWIMBS “Cash, Marketable Securities, & Investment Report” shows the wealthy client investment performance across accounts, which gives them insight into broker and fund performance, as well as showing, in the same report, available or quickly available cash to take advantage of new opportunities, such as grabbing that 2-year-old Gulfstream G650 jet from a bankrupt Internet company.
23. How is DWIMBS different from, say, ROCK-IT, Black Diamond, Advent , MS Dynamics, or even Quickbooks Online?
The leading products for the US family office market are designed to meet the demands of what’s often referred to as the “US Model.” This is a family office started and run by financial advisors … one that focuses on the management (and control) of invested and invest-able assets above all else. The leading products have been designed to meet the needs of those investment managers. In all fairness, they do that part of the job very, very well. You can slice and dice portfolios all day long. As such, those products are designed as portfolio managers, with some accounting and tax functionality tacked on.
But the critical question is: “How useful is a robust picture of portfolio allocations to the wealthy client?” That’s the investment advisor’s job. But those assets typically are only a small part of one’s wealth. Remember the standard broker disclaimer: “Past performance is no guarantee of future performance. All investments involve risk. You could lose part or all of your investment.”
So if you need to give clients a bigger picture beyond just invested assets, it is very difficult to do so with those systems. They are simply not designed to collect and manage all the different kinds of information one must have to get a complete picture. For any of those products to be able to deliver that kind of complete picture would necessitate a complete re-design of the underlying application architecture. And in the current economy, having a complete and accurate picture is a must.
In contrast, DWIMBS was designed and built from the ground up to be able to make it easy to deliver a comprehensive, complete, integrated, and ACCURATE picture of all one’s wealth, both invested and non- invested assets. Because no two family offices are the same, the DWIMBS architecture is designed to provide a core system that is easily customizable to meet your unique needs. DWIMBS provides an extremely flexible and powerful back-office platform, with all the functionality required to meet the standard accounting needs, such as general ledger, chart of accounts, and bill paying. We add to that the in-depth capabilities for capturing, tracking, and integrating non-traditional financial and non financial information. These are the areas usually short-changed by the leading “investment advisor-centric” aggregation packages. Such off-the-shelf applications tend to be very complicated and expensive to tailor to a specific family office’s needs. The result is you wind up paying through the nose for additional features and you still do not get something that makes your job easier and more cost-effective.
24. What are the licensing terms? Are there any unique provisions?
Industry standard license that covers 1 year’s use of the DWIMBS platform.
25. I travel a lot but I need to see my key financial information every day – sometimes on a moment’s notice when I’m considering a deal. Will this be a problem for me? For example, how can I check my financial situation on DWIMBS while waiting to board a plane?
As long as you have access to the host server, either through direct link, VPLS, or secure Internet connection, you can access your data. We are in the process of adding the ability to interface with mobile platforms, such as tablets and smart-phones.
However, there are still significant security issues involved with mobile which we feel have yet to be dealt with effectively. In fact, because smart-phones have been specifically designed to be marketing platforms that track and record all your phone activity and your location, we, as well as most of our clients, have legitimate concerns for their use as points of access to your confidential financial data. Add to that concern the proliferation of apps that allow a person or agency to turn on the mike or camera of such phones remotely, without your knowledge, and we feel that providing access through those devices must be approached with extreme caution and due diligence. To date, we are unsatisfied by the current industry remedies.
26. I’m currently pretty satisfied with my current accounting and reporting program – why would I want to switch to a new system – isn’t moving one’s data from one platform to a new one typically a nightmare?
Exactly. With most off-the-shelf programs your historical data can’t be easily and reliably transferred to the new platform. You are asked to archive your historical data and just make do. And pray you never need it. So, if you’re truly satisfied, don’t switch. However, if you are looking to expand your ability to deliver the most complete and accurate picture of family wealth, then you should take a closer look at DWIMBS. Because it was designed by the CEO of a multi-family office who spent 5 years as part of the back-office team for KKR, a key focus has been to make performing the back-office operations of the family office easier, more reliable, and more accurate.
The process of data migration has always been viewed as a complicated, labor-intensive, and time-consuming one, providing many opportunities to drop the ball. Until we tried to solve it, it was hard to understand why the major vendors didn’t offer an automated solution. Why can’t you just hit a button and import your old QuickBooks data into the new platform? I mean, really, how hard can it be? Well … it turns out that it’s really hard! Not surprisingly, each system has its own way of organizing the data and when you begin to import from several different sources, such as Quicken, several different bank and brokerage accounts, Solomon, SAGE, Excel, etc., getting the data to line up accurately and consistently is quite tough!. You have to be rigorous in your testing, because every time you think you’ve got it nailed down, you find an exception that can throw everything off. It took us many, many months of work by extremely smart and capable people to finally get a process that was consistently reliable. But we finally succeeded. And it’s one of the big features that sets DWIMBS apart.
27. I’m concerned that my advisors have not adequately analyzed the risk profile around my various holdings – is there any way DWIMBS can help me with risk analysis?
The “Risk Management at a Glance” report is designed to show how your assets are insured and protected. This is different from the typical portfolio risk picture provided by financial advisor-centric products. You should NEVER have the bulk of your wealth in the market. The greatest risk to one’s wealth is not in losing some money on a bad stock or under-performing fund.
The big risk is in all the assets for which there is no record or tracking. This DWIMBS report lists all the assets that are currently insured, how much they are insured for, who the insurer and agent are, whether the policy is in effect, the renewal date, and vital beneficiary details, such as who gets the money – an individual, institution, or trust. This report also identifies assets that are not insured. Red flags, overlooked exposure, and un-executed policies are easily identified so that they can quickly be dealt with.
28. I have clients who want to be able to see the fair Market Value of an investment every day. Can I do that with DWIMBS?
Yes. We can customize the DWIMBS “Quick View” report to include such information. As long as the information is in DWIMBS, we can create a report template to display that information – for example, such information as Current Liquidity and Marketable Securities, Obligations for Next Year, Current Estate Liquidity – to determine potential estate taxes. If the information has been captured in DWIMBS, it can be used and reported on in many different ways, to meet a client’s specific needs.