For the most part, financial services companies are still at the strategizing stages of managing content on an enterprise-wide basis, Phillips agrees. "The fantasy magical application and idea is that you have a centralized place for content storage, where everyone has access to it." Phillips adds that most insurance companies, unlike the Aon example, are still staring at untold file drawers full of paper and shaking their heads at the task of storing that content electronically. He recommends that financial services companies facing this predicament look at outsourced scanning and archival services to aid in content migration. But that idea is still years away from becoming a reality for most. Even Aon, with 5,000 users of the system, has yet to extend it across the entire enterprise.
Yet those using Aon's CMS realized the value of digital content on September 11, 2001, when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and the Aon service center housing all of the company's content was destroyed. But the data was preserved on the FileNet CMS, so it was all successfully recovered.
That attack gave rise to the "Check 21" law that went into effect at the end of October 2004, which enabled financial institutions to transmit checks in an electronic format—known as image replacement document—adding to the content management needs of many financial institutions. Some of the largest banks are already digitizing all of the checks they receive. Industry experts expect smaller banks to go to the electronic format as well, though at a more gradual pace. About half of all banks imaged checks before enactment of the law, according to James Van Dyke, founder of Javelin Strategy & Research. Some banking industry experts expect that banks could earn additional fee income from the archiving of the check images, particularly from small business and corporate accounts.
One of the most paper-intensive processes in financial services—mortgages—is becoming increasingly digital, though the "paperless mortgage" is still many years away. Some financial institutions offer online mortgage applications that include all of the information needed to start processing a loan. The loan origination software ties in with other programs for compliance, underwriting, etc. All files are delivered electronically to the closing. Again, however, this content management application is often isolated to a single area of the enterprise.
However, one area where some financial services companies are starting to make some significant advancement across entire organizations is in leveraging the advantages of CMS to enable external content distribution.
Eaton Vance Distributors, which markets and sells the financial products of the parent company, transmits enewsletters on a regular basis to its network of independent brokers, banks, and insurance firms. The enewsletters contain information about Eaton Vance mutual funds and other company investments, economic, and sales information—all intended to help the end sellers of Eaton Vance products. The distribution arm sends customized versions of the newsletters to its wholesalers, which then distribute it to retail networks, which see the information as coming directly from the wholesaler, rather than from Eaton Vance.
The front page of the newsletter contains headlines and contact information. Clicking on "full story" links brings the viewer to the IMN server, where all of the econtent is stored. "It's all about staying in front of the financial advisor," says Morgan Mohrman, Eaton Vance Distributors SVP and direct of marketing, who adds that ideally contacts should be made once a month. While providing good, timely information will help keep Eaton Vance products at top of mind, he believes that too much contact will turn off the intended audience.
"It's all about content in the B to B world," says Elizabeth Darragh, director of marketing for iMakeNews, Inc., which compiles the content and designs and customizes Eaton Vance's enewsletters. "The most relevant, personalized content is the most successful. Batch and blast is a thing of the past." IMN's Web-based enewsletter service offers analytics so wholesalers can track reader interest and Web site visits, and Eaton Vance can hone content accordingly. In addition, using the IMN service, Eaton Vance is able to embed performance disclosures according to broker-dealers' individual rules.
Financial services advisers have largely shifted from focusing on transactions, with commissions based primarily on fees from those transactions, to focusing on advised fees primarily based on a percentage of assets under management, according to Larry Joyce, executive director global product development for Dow Jones news wires. With this shift in focus, the content focus has shifted from the hot stock of the moment to longer term investment advice, including informational articles that may or may not have to relate directly to investments, Joyce says.
Therefore, Dow Jones news wires, a sister company to the Wall Street Journal and other print and electronic publications, is piloting an enewsletter project with some financial advisors. The enewsletter, expected to be launched sometime in 2005, would enable financial service advisors to pull content from the various Dow Jones publications to customize enewsletters for their constituents.