WealthWorks+ is being launched next month in the Channel Islands. It is described as “a brand new platform for private client professionals, built using the latest in responsive web technology”. Ever since Microgen Financial Systems started to buy up its smaller competitors, I’ve been arguing that there is a gap in the wealth systems market; there’s a need for a product designed for the smaller trust and corporate services provider. In this post I will lift the lid on WealthWorks+ to see if it can fill this gap.
WealthWorks+ is being developed by thewealthworks, a Fintech provider based in Haywards Heath, not far from Gatwick Airport. If this sounds familiar, you are not wrong. thewealthworks have been around since 1995 when they started developing Troika. Troika was a moderately successful product meeting the needs of trust professionals in both the offshore trust and corporate services sector and UK onshore trust and probate sector. Like many products developed through the early part of the century, it included a lot of functionality but lacked the sleek user interface, workflow and reporting capabilities of its newer more modern competitors.
Companies like Jobstream, Unity, Finalysis and others have now all disappeared. Although their legacy products are still being supported by Microgen, they are not being actively developed. Whilst, there are still a few companies like thewealthworks around, most of them are too small to be taken seriously by many wealth management firms. Their products also lack the functionality required of a business operating in the highly regulated financial services environment.
Just like the offshore trust market itself, we have seen consolidation in the systems sector. The ‘Big 3’ players, Microgen Financial Systems, Touchstone and ViewPoint for Business, have all increased their market share with their 5Series, NavOne and ViewPoint products respectively. This has been at the expense of the smaller vendors, with very few of them now left. Whilst these three systems are all very good, I believe this reduction in choice is not good for the market. This is particularly so for the boutique firms and family offices who don’t have the resources to implement and manage the large ‘ERP* like’ systems.
Can WealthWorks+ compete and succeed?
To be honest, I’d written off thewealthworks thinking they were waiting to be purchased by a competitor or would eventually disappear. My only recent experience of Troika had been when replacing it by more modern systems! What I hadn’t realised was that Troika enjoys a significant share of the UK trust and probate market and behind the scenes the development team have been busy investing in their next generation product.
My first view of WealthWorks+ happened earlier in 2018 when it was still under development. My first impressions have been largely positive. It is definitely not Troika with a shiny coat of paint and does appear to have been designed from the ground up as a new product. The first thing to note is that it is web based and has thankfully dispensed with the Microsoft Access user interface of Troika. In common with many systems its application layer links to a Microsoft SQL server back-end. It shares this database with the legacy Troika database. This is both an advantage and disadvantage. Smoothing the migration for existing clients is essential, but it has meant the new product has to support some of the legacy data structures and perhaps creates restrictions that wouldn’t be there if starting with a completely clean sheet.
Clean user interface
The advantages of building on current IP and making use of similar code does mean the product can be brought to market quicker. Uniquely, WealthWorks+ can co-exist with the Troika application accessing the same database. This means existing clients can start to benefit from the new user interface with its role based access, smart dashboards, widgets and improved reporting, However, they can continue to use the familiar Troika for back office administration and accounting.
The clean user interface is uncluttered and easy to use. The role based platform is easily configurable for each user, providing intuitive and fast ways to get to the data that is needed. It includes most of the functionality needed by a trust business including things like AEOI reporting which are often missing from comparable systems. It has a reasonably sophisticated task management system with more functionality on configurable workflows to follow in later versions.
Further information on thewealthworks and WealthWorks+ can be found on their website wwplus.co.uk. I’ve also noticed they’ve got display advertising at Jersey airport, proving they are serious about their new product.
Update following Channel Islands launch events
I attended one of the launch events of WealthWorks+ in Jersey on 6 November. It was introduced by Mick Jones, MD of thewealthworks followed by a presentation by Duncan Alexander head of their offshore business. The demonstration was carried out ‘live’, which is always risky in at this type of event, but far more engaging than death by powerpoint. The demonstration was functional, if not overwhelming, but it sid show how far the product has come over the last few months. The UI is certainly intuitive and performance was very good. The engagement of the audience, made of trust professionals, accountants and other consultants, was good and their were plenty of questions. As well as the refreshing interface it was good to hear that thewealthworks want to engage with their users through forums and it appears there are commercial deals to be done for early adopters.
I don’t believe WealthWorks+ can compete at all levels with 5Series, NavOne or ViewPoint. However, it is certainly going to provide more options at the lower end of the market. I’ve no idea on product pricing, but I’d be surprised if WealthWorks+ wasn’t significantly cheaper than the enterprise level systems. It is likely to be simpler and quicker to implement too.
If your requirements are relatively straightforward then it is certainly worth a look.
Going back to my original question, WealthWorks+ is definitely not just a refresh or new name for Troika. It is a completely different product and should be given serious consideration. If, like me, you thought thewealthworks had disappeared from the market, then be ready to be surprised! They shouldn’t be discounted without seeing their new product and deserve a place on your ‘long list’.
If you are currently using a legacy trust administration system, it is likely you are already considering options to replace it. Proper use of technology holds the key to success for all businesses in any industry. The financial services environment is getting ever more complex and customer demands are increasing. If you are not thinking about how to digitally transform your business you will get left behind. Whether WealthWorks+ is the answer, remains to be seen, but I would certainly recommend considering them.
If you would like advice and guidance on selecting the right system for your business then Solitaire Consulting can help. Contact us for a free, no obligation discussion.
The opinions in this article are those of Paul Every, owner and director of Solitaire Consulting Limited. Solitaire Consulting operates independently in the wealth systems market. We provide advice and project/change management services to trust companies and system providers. We have no commercial interests with any of the providers mentioned in this article or their competitors. Solitaire Consulting has detailed knowledge of most of the wealth management systems and has experience of implementing many of them.
ERP – a category of business-management software. It is typically a suite of integrated applications, that an organisation can use to collect, store and manage data from many business activities. ERP systems are usually complex, highly configurable, but powerful. They are typically more expensive and will take longer to implement than simple standalone systems.
Excellent article Paul. It will be very interesting to see how wealthworks grabs market share from the Big 3.