Xerox has also made inroads with its robust ECM product DocuShare Express (, which the company offers to small and medium-size businesses for scanning, document storage and retrieval. Users can share documents and collaborate online through a Web browser, and the product can also of course be tightly integrated with Xerox's own scanning equipment.

The product allows users to build a more robust enterprise-level system later, if their firms grow.

Both of these systems comply with Sarbanes-Oxley, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and SEC Rule 17a-4, since they create and store documents as TIFF images, generally regarded as an unalterable format for electronic storage.

Broker-dealers often provide their own documents, many times fillable PDF versions that advisors must transmit through secure, proprietary systems the B-D owns itself. If the B-D does not supply the advisor with forms, she may need to locate a reliable source, and there are at least two: LaserApps ( and QuikForms ( Firms like these typically offer thousands of forms for download, though advisors use only a few. It would be wise to ensure that the forms you need are actually located in these databases before signing up for them. These services might also add a form for you, if they don't already have it in their inventory.

You may also create your own forms if they aren't available elsewhere. For this, you need Adobe Acrobat (, either in its standard or professional versions. There is a much-overlooked feature in this program that permits you to take a PDF document and create empty form fields. You may only need to do this to a few forms, so it could save hours of staff labor.

However you choose to create documents, if you use a comprehensive document management system with automated work-flow features, you can significantly increase the efficiency and profitability of your practice.

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