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Ten to Watch
Linda Ding

Ten to Watch 2017: Linda Ding

The Builder of the Ark

Ten years ago, Linda Ding was standing in a long line of people at a career fair waiting for a job interview with Google. The Laserfiche booth, just a few feet away, looked lonely in comparison. She gave up her place in the Google line, talked to the recruiter and ended up taking a job at the Long Beach, Calif.-based software company.

With several friends at Google, does she regret not waiting in line? She says she would have felt like a small fish in a big ocean. “Individual contribution could be very easily overseen,” Ding says.

That’s not the case at Laserfiche, where her contributions are increasingly visible to financial advisors and wealth managers. She runs the wealth management vertical of the document management software firm, and has just been handed a potentially transformative catalyst for her company with the Dept. of Labor fiduciary rule set to take affect next year.  The rule will force advisory firms to put a greater emphasis on workflow tracking and compliance, and could finally push FAs into a paperless office; Laserfiche wants to be there to facilitate the move.

“A lot of financial advisors are still operating in a very traditional paper-based format,” Ding says. “Sure enough, now because of the DOL, it becomes more of an obvious problem to a lot of folks.”

Since Ding joined, Laserfiche has grown its wealth management business from just a handful of early adopters to now just over 2,000 advisors and broker/dealers. While a lot of fintech vendors sell directly to advisors, Laserfiche works with about 100 resellers to distribute its software.

The way advisors use Laserfiche’s document management software has evolved over the years; at the beginning, it was simply scanning paper and search and retrieval. Today, people talk about “workflow automation”; the workflow becomes the vehicle to make sure people are following policies and procedures, Ding says.

“DOL is really the instigator, a wake-up call for the industry that the way that you currently operate and manage things is really behind the curve,” Ding says.

The latest iteration of Laserfiche’s document management system incorporates an extensive business process library with configurable templates enabling organizations to quickly configure and deploy business processes like account onboarding, contract management and accounts payable.

The new Laserfiche “Forms” allow advisors to open a new account in minutes. It integrates with multiple applications, including CRMs, Laser App, DocuSign and SIGNiX.

“We can have pretty robust and straightforward workflow API to ensure data exchange among all of the applications,” she says.

Also, because the user is interfacing with one single platform, there’s a built-in analytic tool that monitors activities and performance throughout the entire process.

That will be helpful in complying with the DOL rule.

“I can monitor and track and capture all this action history and all this information along the way; then when the attorney is knocking on our door, we have the confidence that our policies are being carried out in the proper way,” Ding says.

“I hope that people feel, ‘Okay, the earthquake is really happening in wealth management, and we need to build an ark. This is where the storm takes over.’

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