Choosing a new content management system for any website can be challenging, but for an investment management website there are even more factors to consider. Implementation for a new website solution is not to be taken lightly, and not a project any company wants to repeat within a short timeframe (i.e. less than three years). Mistakes can be costly, but with the correct research and investment, the right CMS can make a positive impact on your digital marketing and actually reduce costs and resources. We look at nine considerations we feel are critical when choosing your CMS.

1. Cost

Putting implementation to one side, how much is the CMS product going to cost? There are effectively two types of CMS – open source (free) and proprietary systems (licensed). A website is a long-term commitment, so the ongoing costs need to be factored in. Are hosting fees included? Is there a minimum term? What’s the cancellation period? There are some fantastic proprietary CMS’s out there, with some suited well to niche verticals – but the license costs can be very high. Open source CMS’s have the benefit of being cost-free and generally have much large user-bases. If you have a digital roadmap with a medium/long term strategy, this should help you determine how much spend you allocate to the CMS.

2. Functionality

What functionality requirements do you have in a CMS? Or, putting it another way, who in your organisation is going to be using the CMS? Most digital marketing teams want quick and easy access to get their work done, without having to depend on coders, designers or developers. Asset managers will likely require workflow tools for publishing content, as well as a compliance layer to avoid slip ups. You will likely need the ability to publish a variety of media, including more complex data driven content in the form of charts, graphs and tables. Record keeping regulations (such as MiFID II) could also be a factor, as well as functionality to help deal with data-feeds, documents and events. Multiple investor types and country sites can also mean language options are necessary.

3. Performance

It’s never been more important as it is today to have a fast website. As Google have emphasised the importance of a good user experience, huge importance has been placed on the load time of your web pages – on desktop and mobile. Google already uses desktop page speed as a ranking factor in their results, with mobile speed becoming a raking factor later in 2018. CMS’s have an impact on page loading times, so it’s worth researching this. If you know which CMS they are using, you can even check out some sites using the PageSpeed tool. Secondly, the hosting of your site obviously plays a big role. Shared platforms will be slower than dedicated servers, with the latter option costing more. Look for hosts that accompany your chosen CMS, such as dedicated WordPress hosts, who have built their stack around improving the performance with caching layers and so on.

4. Implementation time

How long is it going to take to build a website in your chosen CMS? For some systems, this time frame can vary wildly. Whether you are transferring existing content or building it from scratch will play a big part, and the total time will likely be more than you expect. Building templates in a CMS takes serious time so you’ll want to make sure you cover all the bases in one go if possible. A typical project will involve these key stages: a) discovery b) design c) build d) UAT e) go live. In between these steps will be revisions and modifications before a final sign off of the designs and the working website. The added complication for asset management websites is of course data. Data, either piped in from a third party such as Morningstar, or collated and loaded from the customer (or a mixture of both) will add another dimension to any project.

5. Integration

Integration with third party systems has become an almost critical factor in choosing any software these days. At a bare minimum, most companies use a CRM with many now also taking advantage of a marketing automation platform such as Pardot or Marketo. You’ll ideally want these to integrate with your CMS using plugins, without having to create anything bespoke. Popular events and webinar platforms also usually integrate with many CMS’s – not to mention media such as video and audio. The more you can do ‘off the shelf’ the quicker your website will be completed – you’ll also benefit from these integrations being updated over time, anything you build custom will likely not be updated and can become a security risk.

6. Scalability

Early on in your discovery phase, you should be thinking about the projected size of your website and which CMS product caters for the website you have in mind. If you are building a large site with multiple user types (e.g. private investors, institutional, advisors) and potentially multiple languages, you will need a CMS that can handle this. WordPress does this using its multisite functionality, so you can toggle between various sites and access the content relevant to that site. If you have a digital roadmap or strategy, then you might be releasing a new website in phases. Will the CMS scale with your website as it grows? If you have lots of editorial content and multiple authors, how will the CMS accommodate these issues?

7. Security

Something that’s easily overlooked early on, when there are so many other considerations in the mix, is the security of your site. With cyber-crime costs predicted to hit $6 trillion annually by 2021, hacking is something that is now likely to happen so every precaution should be taken to mitigate the risks. Some CMS’s are better than others for built-in protection, but further steps should be taken to improve security. Using tech such as multi-factor authentication is a good start to prevent brute force attacks to login pages. Careful monitoring of site access, the number of administrators, ex-employee access and so on are all basic but fundamental steps. Further technology at server level can be implemented to prevent DDoS and ransomware attacks. Work with your IT team or security officer to ensure the CMS you choose includes, or can include, adequate protection.

8. Compliance

Many financial websites will require some layer of compliance or regtech integration. This can be achieved using a mixture of native CMS functionality and some third-party software. If a marketing user wants to publish some content but it needs reviewing by a compliance team, this can be achieved using a workflow tool – preferably with built-in notifications so employees get alerted at different stages. Record-keeping technology is often also required for financial institutions, so this should be factored in when reviewing CMS products. It should also be easily accessible by marketing and operations teams, without dependencies on technical folks to access and or restore versions of web pages.

9. Futureproofing

This is perhaps the most idyllic consideration, but if you’re thinking ahead you’ll want to choose a CMS that is going to be around in 3-5 years time! Take a look at the market share for your CMS and do some research into the company behind the product, to at least attempt to gauge the success and longevity of what you’re buying into. The beauty of many open-source CMS’s is the massive user-bases and continued cycles of development and updates which bring improvements. High quality licensed CMS’s will bring excellent training and support which many open-source products do not have.

D.Y.O.R.

Everyone will tell you “XYZ” CMS is the best, but do your own research and find the best product for your project. Work with senior stakeholders in your organisation to gather all the requirements, and don’t forget the people who will actually use the CMS (usually the marketing team!). Speak to others in the financial industry to gauge their opinions. And remember, a good CMS should save time and solve problems, not the other way around.

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Luke Hinchliffe

Head of Digital Marketing at Kurtosys Systems
Passionate about digital marketing and design for financial services.
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