Welcome to the first Mclowd Monthly Newsletter for 2013, our regular communication to Users, Contractors and Partners.


2013 had barely begun before stories about crowdsourcing went mainstream, including the US developer who crowdsourced his own job (and pocketed the 80% difference).

As humourous as this story is, it also reflects two trends that will become increasingly clear during the next 12 months:

  • The ease with which knowledge-based tasks can now be crowdsourced around the world
  • The cost differentials involved – typically 70-90% below those charged by professional services firms in Sydney or Melbourne

At the other end of the spectrum, the following quote from a recent AFR article by Suncorp Chairman Ziggy Switkowski indicates that even at the most senior levels of the finance industry there is a growing realisation that the world is entering a period of transparency and dis-intermediation that will fundamentally alter the way work is performed and organisations configured:

“In the near future ubiquitous broadband, inexpensive computing power, smart algorithms, cheap data storage and 24/7 services provided by the crowd might bypass established financial institutions and enable a world of one-to-one transactions. Imagine a sort of Wikipedia model for corporate processes where the company role is merely a curatorial one.

Got a technical issue? Invite the crowd to solve it or share their experiences. Need a breakthrough in R&D? Define the problem on the net and invite solutions in return for peer recognition or a small prize. Need start-up funding for an original idea? Ask online for individual contributions in return for preferred access to the innovative product once produced.

This web-enabled, crowd-sourcing model leverages low-cost access to discretionary effort from the global online community. It hints at virtual companies rather than those hamstrung by depreciating assets, sales and service teams, and real estate. Boards of management might perform curatorial roles of communities within the crowd that contribute to elements of the supply chain in a commercial ecosystem.

As with social media, today’s companies continue to grapple with the possibilities and the risks of peer-to-peer commerce coupled with crowd-sourcing. And in the future the solutions may involve new company forms.”

Mclowd itself is a mirror of these trends.  The design process is being driven by a small number of Trustees who have contributed their time and expertise, while the Platform and Marketplace are being built by a global Team leveraging all the latest tools for online working.

The Platform

Reflecting these capabilities Mclowd has been progressing rapidly towards a fully-functional SMSF accounting platform which can support the Trustee community across the superannuation lifecycle (single and multi-Member in accumulation, pension or transition-to-retirement).

Since our last Newsletter the focus has been on unsegregated multi-Member Funds where all Members are in either Accumulation or Pension phase.

Multi-Member Phase 1 involved four separate but related projects:

  • The ability to profile Member opening balances (preservation and taxation components, opening proportional beneficial interests)
  • Upgrades to the Contributions page so that the preservation and concessional status of Contributions can be more accurately reflected in the database
  • A new Proportional Beneficial Interest Report can now be generated in real time
  • For the purposes of the PBI Report expenses can now be assigned to individual Members (for instance life insurance premiums)

The above functionality is already live, and in the next few days we will also release support for:

  • Dividend Reinvestment
  • Manual edits for asset volumes when adding income
  • Manual edits to the market value of unlisted securities

We are currently working on Multi-Member Phase 2, which will see the release of functionality to support Funds where assets are maintained in segregated accounts. Thanks to the power of the Crowd, we anticipate release prior to our next Newsletter.

Notwithstanding the above there is still an enormous amount of work to be done.

Provided we maintain the current rate of progress, we expect to move off Beta in March, allowing Trustees plenty of time to plan a migration to Mclowd for the FY14 financial year (if not FY13).

(As he did last year, Product Manager Graeme McGuire will be running regular Introductory Webinars over the coming months, with the next one scheduled for 2.30pm EST Wednesday February 6th. here to register).

Advisory Board

To improve governance of Mclowd we will be appointing an Advisory Board to help guide the ongoing development of the Platform, particularly in the area of reporting and peer-to-peer analytics.

(As per Switkowski’s comments above – Mclowd’s role in relation to the Platform is purely curatorial.  For all intents and purposes the Platform now belongs to the Trustees who are driving its development).

I will provide further details in our February Newsletter.

The Marketplace

Phase 2 of the Marketplace is now under construction, with release scheduled for April.

Phase 2 will see replication of much of the functionality seen in larger services marketplaces such as elance, odesk and freelancer, including:

  • The ability to post (and respond to) Projects
  • Contractor sign-up
  • Messaging
  • Timesheets
  • Milestones
  • Payment mechanisms
  • Feedback and certification tools

While a significant number of Trustees will have sufficient knowledge of accounting to undertake migration under their own steam, many more will need assistance.

Just as with the development of the Platform, migrating thousands of Funds across to a free SMSF accounting platform is a task that requires (cost effective) resources that only the Crowd can provide.

As part of Phase 2 we will also be developing improved Help resources (including video tutorials) to assist Trustees and Marketplace Contractors alike.

Thanks again for your continued support of our efforts to drive down the costs of investment administration – it’s going to be a very exciting year ahead.

Kind Regards

Ashley Porter
Managing Director
Mclowd Pty Ltd