Are you doing all you can to protect your data properly?

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Cybercrime continues to be a very serious problem in the financial industry. The number and sophistication of malicious attacks has increased over the last few years and is not expected to slow down anytime soon. While the latest OCIE alert shows a marked increase in overall cybersecurity preparedness and awareness by advisors and broker-dealers, there are still areas where firms are failing. This white paper details our observations in the field and provides real-world guidance to the security issues advisors and broker-dealers are facing on a daily basis.

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Not all Clouds are Equal: Demystifying the ‘Public Vs. Private’ Debate

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Is the Cloud Secure Enough to Support a Wealth Management Firm’s Critical Company Information?

Different clouds do different things. As such, choosing the right approach to the cloud can have a significant impact, both short- and long-term on a wealth management firm’s business.

Ask a wealth management colleague to define “the cloud” and you are likely to get a vague response. Even among IT experts the term “the cloud” can have different meanings. And despite the fact that cloud computing has become the IT norm, questions remain about its security remain.  The truth is not all clouds are equal in infrastructure and in management.  This white paper is for wealth management professionals who seek to understand “the cloud” and how these technologies can support their overall business goals.

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SaaS and You: How to Safeguard your Client Data in the Cloud

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Are Your SaaS Applications Safe?

If your firm is like most modern wealth management firms, you use a variety of business and financial software packages, many of them “in the cloud.” Unfortunately, security controls vary significantly from one SaaS provider to the next.

Therefore, you need to make certain the providers you share your client data with have invested in state-of- the-art security measures. All it takes is one cyber breach with the vendor directly or a company the vendor contracts with to put your firm at risk. Read our white paper to learn what to look for when selecting SaaS vendors, as well as additional security measures you should implement to protect your firm.

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Webinar Replay: Compliance Is About More Than Paperwork, Cybersecurity is Taking Center Stage

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Is It Time For CCO’s To Step Up To Technology Decisions at RIA’s?

A startling realization is dawning on Chief Compliance Officers at RIAs. After years of focusing on documentation that proves employees are behaving properly, regulators are calling upon CCOs to step up and make crucial decisions about cybersecurity at their firms. Understandably, many RIAs have yet to adjust to this changing landscape. If you missed our webinar you can join hosts Jason Claycomb and Justin Kapahi in the recorded session for a discussion on how to keep your firm compliant, complete with advice for CCOs who may be taking their first steps into the world of cybersecurity. Watch Here

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Choosing The Right Approach As A Breakaway RIA

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Why are so many advisors leaving huge banks and brokerages?

Hardly a day passes without news of a financial advisor, or an entire advisory team, breaking away from their employer to set up an independent firm. Recent data about the success of independents hints at the opportunity.

A benchmarking study found that 42% of participating RIAs have doubled revenue since 2009 and half of the firms increased assets under management by 75%.

Independent advisors who make technology, security and compliance central to their process have the advantage when navigating startup decisions. This guide will help you understand the most pressing decisions for breakaways and how deploying the best technology at every step of the process enables you to make the right choices for your business.

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External IT FINRA White Paper

FINRA Intensifies Cybersecurity Guidance for Broker Dealers

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Prepare for a regulatory deep dive as computer-based threats grow in importance.

Broker-dealers and RIAs are becoming a bigger target than ever this year as regulators clamor to strengthen the cybersecurity practices of financial institutions. Due to its mandate of protecting investors and market integrity by overseeing securities firms, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has taken a leading role in this initiative.

The alarming truth is that many broker-dealers have failed to stay up to date with cybersecurity controls, and must swiftly get in compliance with all computer-related rules that FINRA enforces or else risk disciplinary action. The agency also operates in coordination with The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), as well as other federal agencies that are concerned about cybersecurity, thus our report will also touch on some of the most relevant rules from those other organizations like:

Regulatory/Disciplinary Timeline, Risk/Change Management, Cyber-security, Outsourcing, Data Governance, and How to Prepare.

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External IT Webinar Family Offices

Learn How Family Offices Can Leverage Technology Solutions to Improve Operations and Security

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Family Offices, Enhance Your Operations with New Technology

The role of technology in financial services only continues to increase in importance and Family Offices are positioned uniquely to benefit from these advancements. Family offices often have distinct and complex technology needs with areas such as security, compliance, integration, mobility, and business continuity top of mind. These complexities coupled with a limited staff and resources has many family offices searching for new solutions to address these challenges. Join speakers Steve Draper, Family Office Exchange and Justin Kapahi, External IT to discuss new technology solutions to improve operations without risking security and business continuity.   Read More

Hardy Reed Case Study

Security, Regulation and Mobility Drove a Decision That Led This RIA to The Cloud

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Find Out Why External IT’s Cloud Workplace Was The Perfect Solution For This RIA’s Aging Infrastructure.

Hardy Reed, LLC, a Mississippi-based RIA with offices in Tupelo and Oxford, was founded in 2006 when Scott Reed and John Hardy broke away from a well-known brokerage to found their own firm. Today, their 11-person team serves clients across the country.

The RIA offers investment consulting and advanced planning to individuals, as well as provides guidance to nonprofit organizations and retirement plan sponsors. Hardy Reed also was among the earliest businesses to receive certification from the Center for Fiduciary Excellence (CEFEX).

Prior to adopting External IT’s platform, Hardy Reed relied on IT consultant with limited knowledge of the industry and kept its client data in-house on a local server. By 2013 issues with mobility, access permissions, customization and security led Hardy Reed to start looking at the cloud as an alternative to its old setup.

Their goals were:

    • Migrate from a local server, improve disaster recovery capabilities
    • Strengthen safeguards on client data
    • Improve client service while team members were away from the office.

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Planning a Breakaway? Office Move? Now is the Time to Review Your IT.

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Here’s a step by step guide to setting up shop with the best tech for your firm.

Wealth management firms relocate to new offices for any number of reasons. One of the most common causes is that RIAs decide to break away from wirehouses. Successful asset managers also inevitably outgrow their startup spaces. Or the firm simply finds a better deal on commercial real estate.

Everybody knows that uprooting a firm to a new office can be a chore, but few business owners think through the implications for the company’s IT system. With a little foresight, moving offices can be the ideal time to upgrade your tech and move to cloud computing. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to get set up.



As soon as you decide it’s time to move, create a timeline of necessary events and a worst-case contingency plan if that timeline goes awry. Let’s be honest, something almost always goes awry – either because of internal workloads, contractor mishaps or uncooperative weather.

Moving by committee is dangerous, because if nobody controls the process then critical tasks may fall through the cracks. Telephones may not be set to voicemail or staffers could forget to pack away belongings before the big move. Therefore, designate an internal project leader who keeps the proper people informed at all times of their respective duties.

Tell your tech vendors – such as telecom carriers, Internet providers and cloud computing specialists – of the impending move. These professionals can offer useful advice to your firm on how to disconnect the old office and set up the new office. They also may be willing to cut your firm a deal on services when you express concerns that now might be a good time to look at competitors.



Inventory all equipment at your firm, from the CEO’s computer to the newest recruit’s telephone wire and every software application with a company license. Knowing what you have is the first step toward knowing what you need to upgrade or replace. For example, perhaps your portfolio manager should have two screens instead of just one or maybe certain software can be upgraded to a SaaS model.

Decide if your current IT team is enough, versus outsourcing to the cloud. Many wealth management firms are ill-equipped to oversee their entire IT infrastructure, given the heavy burden of regulations and devotion of limited resources required to get everything right.

Lastly, factor in growth potential of your business after relocating. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking about your office move in terms of the team you have. But what about next year, or five years from now? If your business does well, it will need more workstations, computers, printers and telephones for the new employees it adds on. It’s much less expensive to relocate once with a dozen extra, unfilled seats on the new floor than to relocate again in a few years after maxing out the new space ahead of schedule.



Pinpoint ideal locations of workstations, wiring and equipment. This is not as simple as it may appear. New office space will have a different layout than your previous space, plus you might have added workstations in anticipation of new hires.

For instance, while onsite you could discover that a workstation lacks a necessary Ethernet port. We recommend two ports, one for voice circuits and the other for data. Another common problem is that your firm may need unanticipated construction work to get traditional phone lines routed to suit your exact specifications. Close doesn’t count if employees can’t communicate with clients.

Check Internet capabilities of the new location. Offices are increasingly going wireless for Internet and adopting hosted VoIP service for telecommunications. Due to the confidential nature of financial information, networks should have separate access for employees versus guests. Don’t assume the new office location has these capabilities. Find out for sure.

The same goes for the server room. Inspect it in person for proper cooling, ventilation, electrical hookup and security features. Ask building security who has the keys to that room. You might need to rely on that person in an emergency, or look into getting a more reliable person for that job.

Be aware of any additional security requirement at the new location. Some buildings require electronic keycard access to rooms, or for firms to use software that logs guests in online before they can reach the office. Know the parameters of any unanticipated software before granting it access to your company’s system.

Do all of this in the presence of an IT consultant. If you lack a qualified team member, someone from your telecom, Internet or cloud provider may step in. However you will not need to worry so much about the server room if you have a reliable cloud-based system, because the vendor handles that.


Make backup copies of all you firm’s data, check that the data is fully recoverable and then transport the backups separate from the originals. This way, if the vehicle transporting your firm’s computers and servers gets in an accident, your data remains safe. Again, if a top-tier cloud provider handles your IT needs, you can stop stressing about conducting backups before transporting data. Multiple servers with high-availability failover keep data safe in virtually all circumstances.

Label all wiring and equipment to speed up reinstallation. Professional movers can do this fast and efficiently. It will save hours and avoid confusion. Few things have the potential to hurt morale like forcing non-IT employees to figure out how to connect office devices just so they can work on them.

Create and distribute a contact list of all staff. You might want to share this with the professional movers or keep it internal. Either way, keeping tabs on people is a good policy when moving their work equipment and expecting them to arrive in the new location on the first day – instead of at the old office.



Your firm is done with the move when you know everything functions as intended. Ensure all phones, computers and printers are at their proper workstations. Call each phone and send emails to all addresses to see if they are received. Use each desktop application, search operating systems for important files and verify that software passwords remain intact. Even if it seems like none of these things should be problematic, the larger your staff or less coordinated your movers, the higher the chance that at least one of these things will need fixing.

When handled correctly, an office move will occur without any disruption of service to clients or compromises in the strength of your firm’s IT infrastructure. Quite the contrary, relocating offices presents a unique opportunity to modernize hardware, software and business continuity processes.

Moving to the cloud frees small to midsize RIAs from the hassle of building out internal tech teams, and it allows larger asset managers to keep track of all their data without diverting attention from their core competency. In fact, firms that have already moved to the cloud can eliminate some of the steps described above. If your firm is planning to relocate offices, feel free to use this guide and to contact External IT for more information.

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External IT Webinar SaaS Vendors

Third Party Due Diligence Webinar, How Secure is Your Client Data?

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What should you expect from your third-party software providers, SaaS Vendors?

The SEC, FINRA and other regulators have increased expectations of RIAs and broker-dealers – with cyber security and disaster recovery top of their list. Increased regulatory scrutiny and the proliferation of hacking attempts on the financial services sector makes the selection and ongoing validation of third-party software vendors increasingly important to your firm.  Read More