Information, document preservation and networking for the high-net-worth client family.
By Donald H. Kelley
Kelley Rating (one asterisk = lowest, five asterisks = highest):
- Ease of navigation, design of interface and learning curve *****
- Instructional documentation and help system ****
- Carries out the goal of the product as advertised *****
- Overall usefulness *****
Summitas is a web portal designed to provide information and collaborative services for high-net-worth individuals, family offices and multi-family offices as well as registered investment advisors (RIAs) and law firms serving such clients.
This service offers information on many financial topics, secure storage for private documents, secure email service and facilities to encourage a community of ideas and information. Privacy of information and communication security is becoming increasingly important as the technical ability to penetrate data shared online becomes more prevalent. Summitas provides a secure collaborative workspace for family wealth management and data storage, and offers private social networking for family members and their advisors. It is modular in design and available in separate components.
The Summitas platform is designed to be customizable. It can be branded for your organization and seamlessly integrated into your current site so that your client sees these facilities as part of your online offerings. It thus provides private label service to brand, build, launch and maintain the Summitas facilities as part of your law office, family office, multi-family office, RIA office or charitable organization. Your private label also supplies a secure email based on a domain name for the user.
The Summitas YourSafe for iPad app allows you to access, from your iPad, documents in the digital vault and the other facilities so that you can work with them securely at anytime, anywhere. The Summitas app for the iPad is available to clients who have access to the Summitas website. It is available from app sources, such as ZDnet, at http://downloads.zdnet.com/abstract.aspx?docid=3227993
What’s It All About?
Summitas provides a platform for effective, efficient communication, among a family and its advisors, for sharing ideas and information. It serves as a virtual office and, as such, includes a secure email facility, a digital vault for family documents and a private, secure, encrypted social network.
Summitas offers educational materials from independent sources on estate and trust planning, as well as financial topics, to help users organize their mutual activities, stay informed on issues related to their estate and financial planning and make collaborative decisions.
The social networking features of Summitas allow participants to exchange information and data securely and privately. This feature uses a calendar, albums, forums and a “wall,” in the manner of social networking websites, to promote sharing with your clients and among a client family, with assured privacy.
The digital vault provides secure storage and document exchange for accounts, wills and other estate planning documentation that authorized persons can access securely anytime, anywhere.
Secure email enables you and your client family to maintain completely private communication through encrypted messages and attachments. The publisher states that it uses 256-bit encryption, conducts a complete backup every 24 hours, employs multiple servers in multiple locations and that its system is hosted by an independent third party. Further details are available at Vault Security on the publisher’s website.
How It Works
The home page links to information about the use of Summitas by individuals, families,family offices and RIAs. It also links to a page describing the features and benefits of this facility.
You may register with Summitas to view the “My Office” area of its website, with free access to the Expert Exchange and News areas. After registration, you then click on “About Summitas” at the bottom of the screen to proceed to “My Office”.
After you purchase a plan, you may create an account for access to the other areas of the website. You then login and go to the “My Office” page which displays educational content, expert exchange and forums.
Under the left hand tab at “My Office” you may select the “Expert Exchange” (financial and estate planning advice from experts, including a blog for commenting on the expert’s materials), the “Resource Directory” (covering wealth, living and philanthropy), “Research & Articles” (on wealth, living and philanthropy), “Forums” (including Summitas’ support forum, The Corner Office and content discussions), “Events” and “News” (today’s news under the tabbed categories of Headlines, Interests and Business).
The “Wealth” category includes information on asset management, estate planning, family office governance, investment, lending, policy and economics, risk management, social investing, tax and legal and technology. “Living” covers art and collecting, education, health and wellness, residential services, transportation, travel and wine and food. “Philanthropy” covers expectations and impact, innovation, intent and legacy, strategy and structures.
For subscribers, access is provided from “My Office” to the “Office Wall” community, the digital vault (upload, review and download documents and other items) and to the secure email facility. You may go back and forth among these facilities and to community social networking for your office and the client family.
Help and Support
The Summitas website includes an elaborate FAQ at https://www.summitas.com/faq discussing the virtual family office, the digital vault, secure email, content and forums and account and billing. Help is available by email or telephone as described at https://www.summitas.com/contact/support
Summitas supplies assistance on design, building of Summitas facilities as part of your website and training of your IT personnel in management of the site. It helps you to create administrative capabilities for the site, set up accounts and passwords for the users and provides help to the customer after the creation of the site.
Where To Get Service?
The Summitas facility is available from Summitas LLC, 335 Madison Avenue, Suite 1432, New York, New York 10017
Sales plans and pricing are at https://www.summitas.com/learn/plans. Private access by an individual is available with private workspace (shared up to three people), digital vault and access to all Summitas content for $19 per month. A private office with blog interaction, private workspace (shared up to 10 people), digital vault and access to all Summitas content is available for $99 per month. For a branded private portal site, pricing depends on factors such as number of users, functionality and customization required. Storage is unlimited, with no additional fees as volume increases.
Summitas effectively provides a service that allows high-net-worth individuals and families to securely communicate and store vital planning and financial information and ideas. That this may be done as an integrated part of the advisor’s website is both a great marketing tool and a significant client service for professional advisors.
Trusts & Estates magazine is pleased to present the monthly Technology Review by Donald H. Kelley—a respected connoisseur of the software and Internet resources wealth management advisors use to further their practices.
Kelley is a lawyer living in Highlands Ranch, Colo. and is of counsel to the law firm of Kelley, Scritsmier & Byrne, P.C. of North Platte, Neb. He is the co-author of the Intuitive Estate Planner Software, (Thomson – West 2004). He has served on the governing boards of the American Bar Association Real Property Probate and Trust Section and the American College of Tax Counsel. He is a past regent and past chair of the Committee on Technology in the Practice of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel.
Trusts & Estates has asked Kelley to provide his unvarnished opinions on the tech resources available in the practice today. His columns are edited for readability only. Send feedback and suggestions for articles directly to him at [email protected]