July 8. 2019. By Matthew Okaty:
My role at Centerpoint encompasses several different areas, including compliance, client portal management, charitable account assistance, as well as business continuity and cybersecurity. Each day usually involves getting pulled in a lot of different directions, which can get quite busy but definitely keeps things interesting. While one of my greatest skillsets is research and analysis, I also enjoy working directly with clients and welcome opportunities to strengthen those relationships.
Overall, compliance probably takes up the greatest allotment of time, as the financial industry is one of the most heavily regulated industries. Several different regulatory bodies, including the SEC, FINRA, and the DOL, share overlapping jurisdiction and issue their own set of rules and regulations. Keeping up with all these requirements can be challenging but is an essential component to operating a wealth management firm. Compliance involves a lot of recordkeeping, the filing of various documents and reports, developing policies and procedures, as well as conducting internal reviews and testing, due diligence, and employee education and training. Some rules are fairly straightforward and entail easy application, whereas others may require a bit of interpretation and good judgement as to how the rule relates to a given situation. Business continuity and cybersecurity are also important areas of compliance, and I act as the main liaison with our external IT team to ensure our ability to deliver services to clients and protect confidential information.
In addition to compliance, I also spend a significant amount of time managing the client portal and account aggregation system. A few years ago, we allocated a lot of time and resources towards updating our portfolio reporting platform in order to better serve our clients and deliver a first-rate experience. Financial technology is quickly evolving, and so it was important for us to invest in a robust system that is capable of growing and adapting to the industry for years to come. The client-facing side of that platform is what we call MyCenter, and I work directly with clients to provide access and instruction on the use of the portal, upload and organize important documents clients wish to keep in their file vaults, as well as aggregate any outside investment accounts they may have. Account aggregation can sometimes be tricky, as different custodians have different procedures for setting up third-party feeds. But most clients enjoy the convenience of being able to view all of their investment accounts in one location using a single sign-on, and it also helps us better manage a client’s portfolio by being able to monitor their overall asset allocation across all accounts and managers.
The last major area I am involved in, and which I find quite rewarding, is assisting clients with their charitable giving through Fidelity’s Donor Advised Fund. If you are not aware, a Donor Advised Fund (DAF) allows you to contribute assets to a charitable gift account for an immediate tax deduction without having to decide immediately which organizations to support. The funds grow tax free, and you can then decide at your own leisure when and how much to donate to a given organization and Fidelity will send the check directly. Some clients are extremely active with charitable giving, which can get pretty time consuming even with a DAF account. I can save the client time and take over this process for them by handling all the mechanics of processing the donation and following up if there are any issues. Fidelity has a pre-approved list of qualifying 501c3 organizations, but if an organization is not listed in their database that you wish to support, I am able to work with Fidelity to try to get the organization approved and will even reach out directly to the organization on your behalf if necessary.
While this list is not inclusive of all my job responsibilities, hopefully you have a better sense of my role here at Centerpoint. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions!