My history with DST started in 1994, when a mutual fund customer in Toronto hired me to conduct an evaluation of imaging and workflow systems. They were certain that they wanted DST, but we went on to evaluate and select FileNet (now IBM). In the course of that evaluation, I spent about a week each with DST and FileNet building an application, with my DST time spent here in Kansas City including a tour of their massive mutual fund transaction processing outsourcing operation. I hadn’t had a lot of interaction with DST again until recently, and obviously things have changed a lot in their technology (as well as in Kansas City).
A big chunk of DST’s core business is still with mutual fund processing companies, since they provide both the TA2000 transfer agency system (for transaction processing and shareholder recordkeeping) and AWD for the imaging, workflow, correspondence generation and other related capabilities. For those companies using TA2000, which is really a mutual fund industry standard in the US, the natural fit has been to use AWD as well since there is some deep integration between them, and DST is pushing hard to ensure that AWD 10 continues that tradition.
Their consistent message at their user conference this week is transforming business (through, of course, the implementation of AWD 10). Part of this is to treat transactions not just as independent transactions any more: many transactions represent life events such as births, deaths, marriages and divorces. How you handle the transactions related to a life event – which usually required initiating and managing transactions and tasks that the customer didn’t think of – can make or break that customer relationship, and that viewpoint can be transformational for how you run your business. This requires a case management approach to that life event, where directed dialogs (wizard interfaces) collect information that can be used to spawn additional tasks required for case completion.
They’re also enabling additional transparency by allowing financial advisors – those people and companies who actually sell the mutual funds – to participate directly in an existing AWD workflow through the DST Vision portal application. For mutual fund transactions, this is primarily to report on transactions that are not in good order (NIGO) so that the advisor can provide additional information in order to complete the transaction, usually related to transfer of assets. This presents a filtered view of the back office information, since advisors are not permitted to see all information about shareholders and transactions, and may include images of the original documents provided.
It’s difficult to tell how well the transformation message is going over with the customers, but based on the audience questions, the functionality provided by DST Vision is much more relevant to them right now. Although all of the DST full-service clients (that is, those where DST or one of their related companies are doing some or all of the processing) are operating on the AWD 10 infrastructure, that doesn’t mean that they’re using the emerging capabilities, and the self-serve mutual fund clients in the room may be slow to follow.