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Are websites a huge missed opportunity for finance services organisations?

Whether you work for a hedge fund or investment bank, you may be unaware of the rising opportunity in your sector that a good quality website can bring, both in driving new business leads and helping to retain existing clients. The growing number of daily search engine requests for an array of financial sector keywords demonstrates that financial sector organisations of all types with a poor web presence could be missing out on business development opportunities.Decibel-Logo

Decibel’s research recently found that nearly half of senior management said they would consider not doing business with a company that had an out of date website. However, many financial services firms fall into common website traps, resulting in websites which are difficult to navigate and complex to update.

Security is of course one of the most important factors to consider when looking at creating a new website for your financial services business. From ensuring confidential client information is properly protected to potentially enabling trading directly over your website, online security is about much more than just complying with the Data Protection Act – it is also a major reputational issue and the right CMS is an important step towards a secure and PCI compliant website. If you pick the right CMS up front, security and other needs are all easily addressed.

A new breed of CMS is emerging which takes the best of open source and closed source technologies. New hybrid CMS such as Decibel Technology take everything that’s great about a closed source CMS such as security, portability and the confidence that code hasn’t been changed, and adds on top an open-API (Application Programming Interface), allowing your developers to quickly create high performance applications to serve your website.

With minimal code required to customise an open API platform, development is more accurate and significantly faster, reducing the cost of the development over the life of a website. Rather than wasting significant time preparing and debugging systems to make them fit for purpose, like typical systems, developers can use Decibel straight out of the box, providing more valuable value-add development time.

As well as having a great website to drive and convert new business leads, this also means a better customer experience, as portals can be developed where customers could view their portfolios and other valuable content – accessing information which is up to date.

My top tips when commissioning a website for financial services business are:

1. Consider the long term needs of your business up front, the last thing you want to have to do is throw away your website – and the cost you have ploughed into it – in a few years because your business has grown or changed its focus.

2. Choosing the right CMS – basically the ‘brains’ of your website that allows you to publish, edit and manage content – is the Holy Grail to website success. The right CMS will save daily headaches in managing your website, and will mean your website will be more useful for longer as you can build upon the content you already have, and reorganise it, even if your organisation changes its offering.

3. In the same way as you advise your clients, consider your website as a long term investment. A websites is a strategic fixed asset so choosing a CMS that helps you get more from that asset (which also can be written down and depreciated), is a secret behind a modern day website strategy. Having the flexibility to edit every part of your website, and reorder and change navigation, menus, site structure and page layout will mean you can reinvent your website as often as you like, increasing its useful life.

4. When drawing up a budget consider the running costs involved and interrogate these costs in detail beforehand. A CMS that says it’s free doesn’t take into account its implementation, maintenance and any new requirements you may have along the way. The cost of a CMS is more than whether it charges an annual licence fee, In fact the ones without can cost you more.

5. Don’t let design override other factors in the decision making process. Design, look and feel is vital for your brand and will ultimately influence the website visitor, but your websites needs to work hard generating leads and sales. Choosing the right CMS means you can react quickly to take advantage of trends and opportunities that your competitors may not be able to do – whether this is adding a new section or relabeling a menu.

6. Make the most of all opportunities to link to your website to support search engine optimisation. Whether are commenting on industry blog postings, or securing media coverage, make sure that links back to your website are included whenever possible to help push you up the search engine ranking for relevant keyword searches.

About Ben Harris
Ben Harris is founder and Managing Director of Decibel Technology, a provider of specialist software for web development and website management. Ben is responsible for overseeing the vision and direction of the business.
Ben’s 15 years’ experience includes overseeing the delivery of brand, marketing and digital projects for clients including Microsoft, Nestle, Pearson, Miss World, Press Association, EasyGroup, Kempton Park Racecourse, International Tennis Federation, Haymarket Media and Emap.
Ben was named startups.co.uk Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2004 and is a frequent contributor to various newspapers, business publications and TV programmes. Ben holds a BA (Hons) Business degree from the University of the West of England.

About Decibel
Decibel Technology delivers a suite of content management tools and services to rapidly build, manage, enhance and future-proof websites. Decibel CMS provides a powerful yet practical alternative to current open source and proprietary CMS on the market through its Open API, which allows developers to build high performance websites quickly and easily. For the first time, Decibel brings enterprise-level CMS and website performance enhancing concepts to businesses of all size and budgets. With headquarters in London, clients include: Lavendon Group Plc, Bell Education Services, Historic UK, Marshall Wace and Miss World. www.decibeltechnology.com