Based on the interview with Rick Burgess, Chief Executive Officer and Founder at Forms Logic
Forms Logic developed out of a need to help RIAs and Broker Dealers automate paperwork that can be cumbersome and frustrating to ensure everything is filled out properly. The company recognizes the challenges inherent in managing paperwork that require inputting the same data among multiple forms. Using Forms Logic’s software, companies can easily complete highly regulated industry paperwork, creating a friendly client onboarding experience.
Rick Burgess has extensive experience managing paperwork for his own hedge-fund as well as being a financial advisor. Not finding an adequate solution on the market, he teamed up with Fred Aalbue, a PhD level software developer ready to take on this task.
“Our first task was to take customer information and easily input the data to every linked form with that information. Now we have expanded our Navigator platform and offered connectivity to multiple eSignature, CRM and customer databases for fully integrated software offerings that make the job of back office support and administration easy.”
Rick and Fred initially developed Forms Logic with a few beta clients that included their own financial service interests, so Navigator was built on the needs of clients and not what a corporation or group of developers wanted to build. From filling out forms and the ways they use data to our external integrations are all parts of how the financial services industry operate.
Forms Logic’s team
According to Rick, the major product, the Navigator platform focuses on the needs of 3 key personas in the financial services:
- RIA/Broker Dealers – Whether small or large, these companies are looking for ways to support a variety of advisors with customized options. From back office and supervisor level support to the individual advisors, Forms Logic helps delineate between the needs of each user. They can offer advanced solutions that allow back office and managers the visibility they require to see what their larger teams are working on in real-time. And down to the advisor, Forms Logic provides support to help them learn the platform and accelerate they client onboarding or book transitions to a new firm. Plus, the platform can add customized workflows, or proprietary product offerings that only they have access to, providing a full service offering to companies looking for advanced solutions.
- Individual Advisors – With access to all the same tools that a larger company requires, an individual advisor can easily process their paperwork with an off the shelf solution. While the hierarchy is obviously not as complex, it still enables the individual access to a wealth of solutions that will fit their individual needs. One of the major functions the platform’s individual advisors enjoy is the help Navigator gives them in transitioning firm to firm.
- Product Sponsors/Vendors – For companies that offer unique, or time-sensitive products, they provide access to the platform to easily upload and promote those products. These companies can provide all the necessary paperwork into our “Product Sponsor” module, thus allowing everyone on the platform to access these alternative products.
Forms Logic’s software team is comprised of developers focused on three tasks: 1) implementation of new features, 2) bug fixes and 3) product line expansion. Fred Aalbue (founder) is the primary lead on the product line expansion, as they look to grow the platform offerings into other areas.
“The implementation of new features and bug fixes are managed collectively by our team of several developers using the Scrum software methodology. We typically run weekly sprints and deploy code on weekends. As we expand, additional team members are hired based upon the coding language requirements needed. Every developer has to be skilled in code basics: HMTL, CSS, Scala and the Play Framework.”
Partnerships and integrations
Forms Logic has partnerships with a broad range of vendors. Their first strategic partnership was with Quik!, a company that provides access to comprehensive libraries of tens of thousands of forms, allowing us to provide clients with a broad portfolio of standardized custodian, vendors and banking forms. Arakyta represents another type of preferred partner, providing IT Solutions that meet comprehensive regulatory requirements financial firms must adhere to.
“Our integrations with CRM’s, e-sign options, commission systems and many others allow us to bring a client to operational functionality extremely quickly. We focus on “staying in our lane” so external vendors can feel comfortable that we have their best interests at heart.”
As for the future partnerships, Rick mentions that blockchain is going to extend their client and integrations range.
“We are facing significant growth this year and are looking for ways to help us grow successfully with our clients. Navigator will also soon become one of the only financial services firm that brings blockchain to the independent B/D, RIA and individual advisor marketplace. This deployment with also extend our ability to integrate our data with much larger firms as we being deploying larger and larger clients to our platform.”
Their existing partnership with Arakyta and others will expand the growth by outsourcing to additional customer support to allow us to focus on the software development projects on hand. However, Forms Logic are actively hiring for software, support, trainers and project managers the business continues to grow.
Customer insights matter
Rick says that it is critical to have software developers and engineers interface with the clients at some level to understand that clients root thinking. It has helped Forms Logic immensely in getting them to understand how the code developed will impact the client’s deliverables. As the work is primarily prioritized by Mr. Aalbue, he has accompanied Mr. Burgess on multiple client meetings, calls and conferences to better understand the customer pain points. It has been an eye opening experience, and he is guiding the software team to always consider the customer in the development.
“Clients are our best resource for expanding the platform capabilities! As we first launched the Navigator platform for financial services, one critical piece to the development was ensuring timely feedback and change requests from the first clients. These initial users were, and continue to be, part of the beta testing to ensure the features meet client expectations. They have been invaluable in providing insights that will not only help their own processes, but to help us to offer those features to future clients.”
The beta testing service is an option that new customers may choose to be part of, however Forms Logic are selective in which clients they will consider for this development. Typically, they look at the longevity of the company, number of users, potential portfolio offerings, software experience and resource allocation to ensure it is a viable relationship for both the platform and the client.
Trends and insights
According to Rick, most of the recent developments in the industry point to a young and growing vertical that has a lot of growing up to do. In the forms and workflow automation corner there are a lot of innovations happening, but most are only useful to very specific situations. These innovations are also happening at the individual provider companies, thus creating mini silos of technology across the landscape. While creating tools for their own companies success, they aren’t generally thinking about broad connectivity. In some cases, such as custodians, they cannot build for broad connectivity due to the legal exposure that is may unintentionally bring.
“True innovations are those technologies that provide solutions to integrate into a clients existing technology offering. These technologies provide a “plug and play” solution where the innovator adapts to the clients needs not the other way around. Our Navigator platform does just that – working with the client to ensure our solution fits around existing processes. However given the broad landscape of solutions in financial services for back office support, IT and custodians, it will be a long way before there is a single solution that has global market share.”