Sage Climbs Up VerticalFalls to Spawn

Sage Software today acquired intellectual property from VerticalFalls Software, a financial services industry software provider that Sage officials expect to help the company target brokerage firms and other financial services companies that provide advisory services. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. The two companies have each sold their products--Sage's ACT! and VerticalFalls's FACT--for several years. They will now be bundled together as Sage works to develop an integrated solution for financial services advisors. The acquisition is part of Sage's ACT! industry solutions strategy designed to combine the features of ACT! with industry-specific functionality using the ACT! Premium platform. Sage Software introduced its first ACT! industry solution, ACT! by Sage Premium for Real Estate, in May 2006. "By integrating ACT! with the acquired VerticalFalls technology, we will deliver business critical contact management and compliance features that brokerage firms, financial advisors and others in the financial services industry need in today's marketplace," says Joe Bergera, ACT! senior vice president and general manager for ACT! Sage Software. VerticalFalls will continue operations as a professional services firm that will resell the integrated solution, as well as provide implementation services, data migrations, training, support and business consulting. Prospective financial services customers need to ensure that all necessary disclosures and other compliance rules are followed when communicating with customers. But brokers and other financial advisors tend to purchase their own contact management solutions today. By bundling the two together, Sage hopes to entice the advisors and their firms to buy a single compliance monitoring and customer tracking solution. "Financial services organizations are experiencing regulatory pressure to implement standard reporting processes that necessitate retaining the history of customer interactions and records of customer risk tolerance, among other key criteria," Bergera says. "I talked to one [financial services professional] who still keeps all of his contact information on index cards." Today's regulatory environment and the corporate need to be the warehouse for customer information (rather than advisors keeping it themselves) provides a good market for an integrated product, according to Bergera. Bundling the two applications together, and eventually selling an integrated application designed for financial services, will enable Sage to target enterprise-level customers rather than individual financial advisors, Bergera adds. "When [a customer] does business with a broker and the broker goes to another firm, the customer tends to leave with him," Bergera says. "This will give the corporate entity the ability to retain [the contact information]." The integrated, corporate-level solution, which Bergera expects to have available in 6 to 12 months, will also enable enterprises to include authorization functions to limit different levels of employees to different levels of information. "This is one component of the vertical strategy that Sage has," says Laurie McCabe, vice president of small and medium business insights for AMI-Partners. "This builds on their strategy to build on vertical industry needs." McCabe adds that this approach is likely to be welcomed by existing customers. "They have a ready-made market in the ACT! installed base in the financial services industry. They had input that their existing customers had need for these compliance-based features." Related articles: Sage Livens Up the ACT! for 2007
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