Top Three Considerations for Selecting Entity Management Software

The need for Security, Automation, and Enhancement

In the face of increasing regulatory complexity, now more than ever organizations need a secure, automated, and scalable solution to manage entity records. In this recorded program, we’ll discuss how to select the right entity management software for your organization including aspects like security, automation, and regular enhancements. You’ll see how our award-winning system, CSC Entity ManagementSM, can streamline the management of your entities and give you an insider look into some of the 2018 enhancements to the platform. You’ll come away with practical tips for how to select the right platform for your needs.

You'll learn:

  • Why an entity management system is critical for effective corporate governance and compliance
  • How to organize, maximize, and automate critical entity data, reports, organization charts, and other documents
  • How to select the right entity management software for your organization's needs
  • How to integrate seamlessly with CSC's registered agent and transactional services

Webinar Transcript

James: Hello, everyone, and welcome to today's webinar, "Top Three Considerations for Selecting Entity Management Software: Security, Automation, and Enhancements." My name is James Wier , and I will be your moderator.

Joining us today are David Jefferis and Andrea Jonaitis. David is a senior sales engineer for Compliance and Governance Services at CSC in the Wilmington, Delaware headquarters. With CSC for over 12 years, he has significant experience providing training, implementation, and consultative services to clients of CSC Entity Management and consults with those evaluating CSC Matter Management Solutions.

Andrea is a sales engineer in the Corporate and Legal Solutions group at CSC. Since joining CSC in 2017, Andrea has specialized in global subsidiary management and entity management working with prospects to present an accurate and clear scope of services including helping subsidiaries stay in compliance, as well as demonstrating CSC Entity Management. And with that, let's welcome David and Andrea.

Andrea: Great. Thanks so much. And thank you to all of you for joining us this afternoon.

David: Wonderful, we're very excited to be here. And again, appreciative of everyone making time out of their schedules to join today's webinar. So we do have a fair amount of content today. So at this point, we'd like to dive right into our agenda. The first thing that we'll do is kind of a setting of the baseline here to describe, you know, what is entity management? We're very familiar with that term, but it can mean different things to different people. So we want to make sure that everyone is effectively on the same page when we're using that terminology.

Andrea is going to talk a bit about the entity management lifecycle, and so we'll talk about the fact that it's not a static thing, but it's a very fluid situation and we'll talk to some specifics of that which really does then play into the need for solutions like software solutions in the entity space.

Now, for those in our audience that are maybe haven't used an entity system before, maybe you're evaluating implementing a new entity solution, there really are a host of considerations that you're either going through or I think eventually will go through as you do that valuation, and we try to boil it down into three that we think are really critical. So these are the ones that we'll focus on today security, automation, and continual improvements and enhancements in the solution.

The sort of second phase, if you will, of our presentation today will be a bit of an in depth look at the CSC Entity Management solution. We were quite busy last year, particularly in the fourth quarter last year, rolling out new capabilities of the platform. And so we want to make sure that everyone in our audience has a chance to see some of the latest and greatest capabilities in our award winning entity management solution.

And then certainly, we would like to leave a little bit of time on the back end for Q&A. And as we mentioned, there is a Q&A widget in the web conference where you can submit questions, so please feel free to ask away during the webinar. We may as best as possible try to answer some of those on the fly as we're presenting, but certainly we'll make sure that we have a few minutes at the end to address some of those questions as well.

So as promised, let's level set, pardon me, what are we talking about when we use that term entity management. Fundamentally, at the highest level entity management is a practice or a discipline, if you will. And really the core goal here is to keep our entities in compliance. And it's not necessarily a simple thing. We could have global entities, and Andrea will talk about some of the challenges related to tracking global entities and keeping them in compliance. That's a bit different than what we do here in the States, but also you could have state registrations, you might have doing business as names or DBAs that are registered at the county or local level.

You might have business licenses as a part of your compliance portfolio where there are tens of thousands of municipalities that oversee or have authority around a business license requirements. So the short story here is that, there's quite a lot to it just in terms of the core responsibility of keeping entities in good standing or in compliance.

Now, also to get a little bit more into detail, entity management is a practice of managing data. So information about your company's documents, charter documents, consent resolutions, meeting documents, and it's also a practice of where you're tracking compliance obligations and you likely have reporting needs as well. There is often not only a need to share information amongst colleagues, but also on occasion to be able to share some of this information externally as well. There could be auditors, or investors that need access to some of your entity data. And again, hopefully you're on our call today because you're looking for a mechanism to easily share that information, again, inside and outside of your company. So that's really what some of the key bullet points are that we described here.

One of the examples of being able to, you know, share information let's say with an auditor or an investor that Andrea will show later on in the demo, is an example of org charts. The ability to create a really compelling picture on that old adage is that a picture is worth a thousand words to really convey, you know, the ownership structure of your portfolio. So that's one of the things that we'll look at later on in the demonstration.

So if we've described what entity management is, the question then may become, well, you know, why does it matter? And I think one of the reasons that we hear from folks is that regulatory scrutiny is higher than it's ever been, and the complexity is greater than it's ever been as well. So we are sort of earlier in our century here, but we've already had several notable financial scandals and crises. And so for example, we had the Sarbanes-Oxley regulations that came out in the early part of the 2000s creating more tight timeframes around when some filings have to happen with the SEC, that folks may be familiar with for those with publicly traded companies.

And then certainly we had some Dodd-Frank legislation dealing with some other financial crises that we had later on in the decade. And so ultimately, the same scrutiny as applied to the practice of keeping entities in compliance, both domestically, certainly, and globally as well.

So with that, we're going to transition into talking a little bit about the entity lifecycle and this is where Andrea is going to talk to you about some of the challenges that this can create for organizations.

Andrea: Absolutely. As you know, the process of managing the lifecycle of an entity is incredibly complicated and so involved, and the complexity of managing entities through their lifecycle keeps growing because regulatory complexities continues to grow as well. There are so many aspects to the process and nuance required with each of your projects for managing an entity from start to finish through all of the steps and projects that you could undertake.

Whether you're forming new entities or acquiring new entities, you know, the growth of your portfolio or maintaining your portfolio by maintaining your good standing, managing changes to your portfolio, like the changes to your officers and directors, or withdrawing or dissolving entities. Many of these other changes that can occur throughout the end of these lifecycle, all of these moving pieces in each of these projects can make it complicated for you to track and manage your data, your documents, and it really goes without saying that it's imperative to select a partner and an entity management solution that's going to be able to dynamically support your business and grow with your portfolio's needs.

David: And one of the things that Andrea and I hear quite a bit, we've had the pleasure of presenting to a lot of prospects that evaluate our technology is that, you know, they were working in a manual environment and everything was fine. But then they had a lot of rapid growth, or they had an acquisition. All of a sudden, they can't quite keep up the way they were able to before. So again, it's a very dynamic situation and that's often necessitates technology, which is what we'll focus on today.

Andrea: Absolutely. And that spans not just for your domestic business, but also your global business. What about international entities? These entities are very complex to manage because they have different requirements other than the requirements that we're used to seeing in the United States. Maintaining a positive standing globally isn't as straightforward as just taking a registered agent or filing your annual reports throughout the year. There's so many differences based on jurisdictional rules or entity types that must be considered an addressed. And again, a good entity management system is going to be able to provide you with a very robust centralized repository of data and information, and it will help to make meeting those requirements a lot easier to manage.

For example, some countries may dictate rules about the location where your minute books have to be stored. Some have registered office requirements or requirements for who may serve in that capacity. There may be laws governing who may serve in local directorship roles and other legal representative positions.

David: With that, we have already prepared what we feel are some of the critical considerations that folks should sort of go through, and think through, and that when they explore technology with vendors. And so those three considerations that we'll explore in some detail today are security, automation, and regular enhancements, the desire to have a platform that is evolving and not sort of frozen in time.

So let's first talk a little bit about security. And as I mentioned earlier, Andrea and I have the pleasure of presenting to a lot of organizations that are evaluating our entity management solution. And I think to be fair security is not only top of mind, and these are users that have things they're trying to get done. They're trying to create org charts so they need a list of directors and officers, they need a breakdown of all the different jurisdiction of registrations, and they're looking for technology to make their lives easier. And so they're looking at a solution like CSC Entity Management.

Having said that, at the end of the day, if the platform that you select is not secure, then it is all for naught, right? The platform is really worthless if the vendor can't keep your information secure and private. And as we really think about some of the key capabilities of an entity solution, you know, one of the most popular applications is having a mechanism for creating online minute books. And in that scenario, you are uploading documents that are quite secure, meaning meeting minutes, consent resolutions, and you don't want these documents getting, you know, into the wrong hands, so to speak. And so you want to make sure that the vendor can do everything possible to keep those safe, secure, and private.

So when we talk about security, there's a couple of things to talk through. We have two slides that focus on security. Some of the most popular entity management applications in the market have integration with a registered agent like a CSC for example. And so with our solution when CSC is acting as a registered agent, we're able to auto populate quite a bit of information into the solution.

Now, there are some other providers that attempt to do that as well. We feel that we kind of built a better mousetrap. We feel that we do it better than others. But it's a very popular model these days to have integration with core information tracked by a registered agent. So if that is in fact the type of solution that you're going to implement, then really the next question should be well, what security, and procedures, and processes does the registered agent have in place for doing kind of their day-to-day function?

And certainly, as I think folks on the call can already understand, one of the primary responsibilities of a restoration is to receive and distribute litigation or what we call SOP, which stands for Service of Process, and so there are some registered agents on the market that have a very loose network. It can barely be called a network. It's sort of a conglomeration of affiliates. It's kind of hamstrung together and there's not consistent technology, and security, and process in place to make sure that your information, again, is secure. So you really should kind of peel back that onion and look to understand how does the registered agent actually host secure, and maintain, and store our information.

As you start getting into the specifics of an entity management application, a very popular model these days is a browser-based solution. You'll hear terms like web-based or cloud computing. We often use the term software as a service. These are all really different ways of saying the same thing. And that is that the application is hosted by the vendor. You're not actually taking a piece of software and installing it on computers that you're maintaining within your network or within your organization.

So typically, the access is a browser, login credentials, and then you have what you need at that point to connect to the platform. So again, the data documents are being maintained by the vendor. And so there are some specific sort of certifications and assessments that are being referenced here SOC 2, and an ISO 27001. I know this gets a little bit into the weeds.

I think the short story here is that as you evaluate a platform, you certainly will want to engage your information security, information technology team to have them kind of kick the tires, do a bit of a security evaluation. And these are some of the, again, accreditations, or certifications that you would want your vendor to have in terms of the data center where the servers and infrastructure is actually hosted and of the platform itself.

So there's some critical, again, review that it should be happening on an ongoing basis that you should be able to even review. You should be able to even review the assessments that the vendor is doing.

So again, we talked about security being a couple of things, kind of understanding, how does the agent keep information secure? How was the entity management software secure? The data center that maintains and stores those servers, how's that secure?

But then also, the other way to think about security is the platform itself sort of inside of the system. So if you are set up as let's say an administrative user who is all powerful where you can update information, upload documents, change directors, officers, etc. You know, are you able to create users that by design are more limited? And that's really the concept of role-based permissions.

You absolutely want to implement an application that allows you to pick and choose what people can and can't see, and what they can and can't do. There might be users, for example, that when they log in, it's great for them to see basic entity vitals, it's fantastic that they can see your active list of directors and officers, that may be the same user should not have access to some of the more sensitive documents that you're storing within the solution.

There can even be scenarios where you have users that should only see a select subset of your entities, maybe in a certain region, if you're a global organization, maybe a certain division or acquisition that you've gone through. So there certainly are platforms that allow you to pick and choose what people can see, what they can't see within the application itself.

Also, you will look for a platform that makes it very simple to permission in external users. We talked about the scenario of auditors or investors perhaps wanting or needing access to some of your information. You want to make sure that there's a very simple opportunity to securely permission in outside users into perhaps a subset of the information and documents that you're managing within the platform.

And then a couple of specific sort of technology things to take a look for in platforms and we'll actually demonstrate this a little bit later on in the demonstration, folder level security and audit trail capabilities. So folder level security has become a bit of a kind of a catchphrase for platforms that let you decide which folders and essentially therefore, which documents a user might have access to. So we're going to get into that in some detail later on in the demonstration.

And then audit trail capabilities are equally important. That is your ability as an admin to have really transparency and oversight in the changes that are happening in the system. So if you do, in fact, create colleagues that have some edit authorities, you know, maybe there are users that you allowed to modify directors, officers, colleagues that are allowed to upload documents, for example, the audit trail is your ability to hopefully very easily and quickly understand what changes are happening in the system. When were those changes made? Which users executed those changes? What's the before-after information look like?

And so it shouldn't be a black hole, you should have full traceability into, again, the activity, the changes that are happening within the solution. So with that as a backdrop to security, let's kind of shift gears and Andrea is going to talk a bit about automation. One of our next critical considerations.

Andrea: Sure. This concept of automation is very critical because you want to be able to have a tool that can automatically update your data and information, and really make your life easier, right? A quality tool is going to be able to automatically update your data and your documents as your filings occur, or automatically calendar your critical obligations like your compliance, or your good standing events, or proactively monitor or alert you have changes that you need to be aware of.

The CSC Entity Management application can do just that. As your partner when CSC completes filings or manages any obligations on your behalf, the associated data and documents are automatically updated within the technology. And that really sets us apart from some of our competitors.

Our entity management application will also automatically calendar your compliance in good standing events for you based on each of your entities' jurisdictions where you're registered to do business. And this will really take some of the pressure off of you in terms of having to be organized, or having to remember to track these dates on your own, or coming up with your own system for that tracking.

CSC has been in business since 1899. We've got a great relationship with the Secretary of State in each of the 50 states, in Canada, in the Cayman Islands, and we've leveraged those relationships to connect our proprietary technology tool to the Secretary of State database in each of those jurisdictions. And the result for our clients is a proactive monitoring system that will send important alerts if any entity's status changes. And the confidence and peace of mind that you'll get knowing that your entities are in good standing.

Automation is not only important for your data and information, it's also critical that is applied to your documents and your other files as well. With this entity management tool, whether it's a document that's drafted on your own computer, or just a scanned piece of paper, when you upload your documents and your files into CSC's Entity Management application, you're going to see that the tool will automatically apply a layer of optical character recognition, or OCR for short.

And that's going to make your documents fully text searchable. That way the next time that you need to kind of find a document or identify that needle in a haystack, if you will, you can search for a word or phrase within the contents of your documents and you'll dramatically optimize your search procedure and you'll reduce the time that you spend searching for documents or files, and be able to utilize that time doing the things that are most important for keeping your business going.

Automation in an entity management tool should also be able to drive the dynamic creation of org charts for your portfolio. As David mentioned, we're going to take a look at the org chart capabilities on our demonstration today. And you'll be able to see how you can automatically and dynamically generate graphic or even text-based org charts just by filtering the data and selecting the criteria that you want to see on your org chart. So you can really automate the process of creating very robust and beautiful org charts in only a matter of minutes.

And then finally, your entity management solution should also be able to automate the completion of your corporate secretarial duties for your global entities. The management of your data, your documents, some solutions have limitations around the capture and management of international data, maybe some data fields that aren't as common for U.S. entities, but maybe more required for global entities. You should be able to customize your tool and be able to automate that in terms of capturing it in your database.

Oftentimes, some systems will require you to still work separately with a provider in each country, and the onus is on you to update your centralized database, if you're fortunate enough to receive a status update from your partners in country, and with CSC's Entity Management, and paired with our Global Subsidiary Management services, that concern kind of goes out the window. And the result for you is a centralization and automation of your workflow to complete and manage your global portfolios.

You'll capture all of the data and documents within the tools. Our team will proactively handle all requirements that are due to the business registry for your international entities. And then again, all of the data, all of the documentation, all of that will automatically flow into your centralized database via this entity management application for your immediate viewing or use. That way you get the benefit of the centralization and automation of your global portfolio. And equally important, of course, you get the confidence that those nuances and all of those individualized jurisdictional needs are all handled appropriately and in the right way.

David: And you said that all perfectly, but I can't resist adding a little to that. I'm certainly a big proponent of automation. There's a kind of a minority of folks in our audience that aren't using a technology platform today. And really, if I can speak directly to that segment of our audience, as you evaluate a solution, there are plenty of platforms that could function as what can be described as a database where there's a place where you can store entity vitals and directors, officers, probably a place where you can upload documents.

But if that's all that it can really do for you, is serve as a repository, you can do better. There's better technology out there in the market, as Andrea mentioned, where you can really automate, you know, data and documents flowing into the system, org charts being created dynamically, being able to locate information documents via automated searching features. Again, automation to me is so critical because at the end of the day, I am subscribing to this type of technology to make my life easier. I've got work to do, and I'm looking for this technology to make it easier to do my day-to-day functions.

And so, again, you must, I implore you explore a platform that has, you know, automation, those types of capabilities because that technology is very much out there on the market.

So let's talk a little bit about our third and final key consideration for our conversation today, which is what we're calling regular enhancements. And we're calling this out specifically because there are some entity platforms on the market that just haven't evolved. And so we've seen this here and there where an organization looks at the solution, the features look pretty good, but it's been a year, it's been two, three years and nothing has changed and the needs of that organization have evolved and unfortunately, some of these entity solutions are not evolving with them. And so really, what you should be looking for as a part of your evaluation is a roadmap.

You know, tell me what you've done in the last year. What is on the horizon for the next say, 6, to 9, to 12 months? Hopefully to get a comfort level that this is a technology that is improving and evolving, and really in the day and age that we live in technology is really evolving so rapidly it's almost hard to keep up sometimes. And so what's good today is not going to be good enough in a couple of years from now. So certainly you want to see that roadmap, get a sense that there's a commitment from the vendor to the platform that you're about to implement.

And so here at CSC, just to sort of translate that into what we do. Typically, on average, every three to four months, there are new capabilities that we launch. And critically, when CSC launches new features, all of our clients get those features automatically, which is . . . it's not necessarily noted on the slide, but this is sort of another thing to ask the vendor as you explore technology.

You know, are we in the bronze package and the new feature that you're getting ready to launch is in the silver and gold package only and we're not able to get that feature? Or, you know, you're launching this feature, but now I've got to open up the checkbook because it's not a part of my feature set and it costs more to take advantage of, so you kind of want to understand what's coming and am I getting these features and at what cost? So these are kind of important questions to ask as you explore technology in the entity management space.

So with that, I mentioned that CSC on average launches new features every three to four months. That said, every now and then, we roll things out even faster. And I think last year is a good example of that. So the next slide that you're going to see in just a moment, talks a little bit about the timeline of things that we developed in our entity solution in 2018.

So I think this will be of interest to folks that don't have technology, folks that are currently using the system, but kind of looking around and certainly for that nice chunk of the audience that kind of wants to see what's new, this is kind of, I think, the part of the webinar that you've been waiting for, to kind of see some of the new capabilities in our platform.

So we've always had graphical org charts that are very powerful and popular, and I think Andrea will kind of cover those as well. But what's new in terms of org charts are these text-based linear charts that really complement their graphical counterparts, so we'll take a look at that. We have always had the ability within CSC Entity Management to give you what we will call an audit trail where you can take a look to see what changes are happening. Who made the change? When did the change occur? There's typically before and after information associated with those changes.

But admittedly, it was a little hard to get to that information, so I think, made tremendous strides by launching some standard, we call them audit reports, a lot of our clients call them change reports, where you can very easily with a couple of clicks see the changes that are happening within your account. So having that transparency and oversight like we talked about as an administrator. So Andrea will walk you through that as well.

And then I'll come in on the latter part of the demo to talk about some of the exciting enhancements around document management, specifically the ability to drag and drop documents into our solution as opposed to the more traditional upload actions that folks had to perform in the past. And then we'll also take a look at what we're calling folder level security, the ability to pick and choose which folders therefore, documents users should have access . . .