Author: Scott Barnes, CEO, ArtBanc
12 Dec 2014
A collection management system (CMS) is critically important for ensuring that art collections are properly documented, administered, valued and maintained. There are numerous complications that arise in the process of fine art ownership; a CMS resolves these by taking on the day-to-day management of a diversified art collection. There are several essential users of the CMS and the information produced from the system. These include not just the collector, who may have purchased the artwork, or the collection curator, but also the accounting personnel, trust company managers, insurance brokers, private banks and other professional advisors that are advising the collector on accounting, taxation, estate planning, trust, wealth transfer and financial matters. Depending on where the collector is domiciled for tax purposes, the ownership structure of the collection can have significant accounting, taxation and estate planning ramifications. All these issues and considerations impact the decision of which CMS is appropriate. To put it simply, a CMS is a tool to better preserve family wealth and make the proper financial decisions with regard to collections.
To put it simply, a CMS is a tool to better preserve family wealth and make the proper financial decisions with regard to collections
At the core of properly addressing many of these issues for high-net-worth families is having the capability for the CMS to produce the necessary location and valuation reports. The standard of value to be applied and documented in the CMS depends upon the specific use, so in many cases the users of the information will be required to record and historically track multiple valuations within the CMS. For example, the insurance value (generally the replacement value), fair market value, historical cost and market value for estate purposes will always be different. Also, it is very common for artworks to be physically stored in multiple residences and, potentially, at various freeports. Accordingly, artworks may be physically stored in different countries, requiring additional CMS flexibility to monitor and track physical locations.
There are many DIY collection management software packages and cloud-based CMS options that offer basic features and simple reporting functionality. Their platforms and software database systems are generally a one-size-fits-all solution. In each of these DIY systems, the user is confined to the limitations of the system and customisation is limited or unavailable. Likewise, these DIY systems require the end user to consult multiple advisors in order to complete the implementation of a CMS or a migration to a new CMS. At ArtBanc, we are pleased to be the only provider of a fully integrated, customised and turnkey CMS for collectors, family offices, trust companies, insurance companies and advisors responsible for fine art collections.
The ArtBanc CMS is unique in that it is not a one-size-fits-all system, but rather an extremely flexible and scalable system that allows users to customise data input, report production and data storage to their specific needs. The ArtBanc system specialises in fine paintings, jewellery, sculpture and photography, but also accommodates any desired collection category. The standard ArtBanc CMS, in most cases, requires no customisation and accommodates unlimited physical locations and multiple tax domiciles. Any requested customisation can generally be completed within a few business days. The ArtBanc CMS provides unlimited data storage of documents and high-resolution images, as well as the capability to record, monitor and track individual artworks on a global basis, including all valuation information for insurance, estate planning, collateral or any other purpose. The system allows for recording and reporting in any foreign currency desired and is capable of recording fractional ownership if artworks are held in trust, family limited partnerships or any other type of multi-ownership structure. The ArtBanc CMS also meets the needs of off-shore trust owners, who require the documentation and information on specific collections to be stored at an off-shore location.
DIY systems require the end user to consult multiple advisors in order to complete the implementation of a CMS
At ArtBanc, we work closely with family offices and their multitude of advisors to deliver exactly what they demand and need, and provide the flexibility to adjust to changing needs over time without the family office or collector being required to change systems, pay software upgrade fees or incur unnecessary costs. Our system accommodates both small and large collections. We offer two CMS solutions. The first is a complete ‘white glove’ service, whereby our specialists will perform and manage the migration of data from an existing collection management system or, if no prior CMS exists, we will accumulate and completely catalogue the necessary documentation for the collection. ArtBanc manages the entire project from start to finish and provides the required CMS solution at the end of the process. The second option is an annual licence for our software, allowing the family office or end user to then manage the entire CMS adoption process themselves. We provide a solution to meet any user need and any user financial budget.
The ArtBanc white glove solution has multiple benefits that include complete and quick system implementation by experienced ArtBanc specialists, a one-time migration fee that is based on the time required to migrate and/or catalogue the collection, no annual licensing fee thereafter, customisation to users specifications (if any), full system support and training, and specific ArtBanc specialists to assist in any future collection management needs, such as updated valuations. The pricing for this service is based on a £150 per hour rate. Prior to performing any engagement, a full cost estimate is provided.
The ArtBanc annual licensing solution is offered to accommodate those users that wish to manage the system adoption, data migration and ongoing maintenance of the CMS on their own, without any involvement by ArtBanc specialists. The licensing fee is £100 per month (exclusive of VAT) plus training and support costs, if requested.
In addition to providing the leading CMS solution in the international marketplace, ArtBanc also provides other value-added services and research to meet the demands and needs of collectors and family offices. ArtBanc was founded on world-class expertise and our areas of expertise include our independent valuation services. There is a significant difference between generalist valuation firms and specialist firms like ArtBanc, with globally recognised experts educated, trained and experienced in valuing and advising on collections that contain high value artworks. We provide a one-stop-shop solution for family offices, collectors and their private advisors.
If the need arises, ArtBanc also advises collectors on art sales through our electronic trading platform and private sales channels. We provide a credible alternative to the major auction houses, with normal transaction fees of 5 percent to 8 percent. With no buyer premium on our platforms and by advising only the seller, we provide a significantly better return than the auction house alternative.