In August 2021, Microsoft announced a new pricing structure for its Microsoft 365 subscriptions. This is the first significant price increase since Office 365 was launched in 2011, and it reflects the innovations and additions that the tech giant has made to the brand over the years. If your registered investment advisory or financial advisory firm is using Microsoft products, these pricing updates apply to you.
Microsoft 365 new pricing
The changes in pricing for Microsoft 365 is as follows:
- Microsoft 365 Business Basic – from $5 to $6 per user
- Microsoft 365 Business Premium – from $20 to $22
- Microsoft 365 E3 – from $32 to $36
- Office 365 E1 – from $8 to $10
- Office 365 E3 – from $20 to $23
- Office 365 E5 – from $35 to $38
Microsoft also made changes to the way you purchase and manage their licenses through their business partners. You can now pay for Microsoft 365 licenses on a monthly basis without making an annual commitment. This offers greater flexibility if you need to change or scale up or down your subscription plans month to month. However, this option comes at a 20% higher cost than the standard annual subscription.
For the annual subscription, on the other hand, you can choose to pay either on a monthly or an annual basis. The great thing about this is that your pricing will be locked in for the entire term. This means that if Microsoft decides to increase prices in the future, your rates will stay the same until your subscription expires.
However, it’s also important to note that the annual subscription comes with some limitations. While you can easily add new licenses to the subscription, you cannot remove licenses until the end of the 12-month commitment. Likewise, there are limits to making changes to the vendor who manages your subscription — which you could also only do at the end of the 12-month contract. While these limitations may seem like a barrier, they are only a concern if you plan to scale down or change your IT support provider.
The new prices went into effect on March 1, 2022, so now is the time to reevaluate your options and make sure you are getting the best deal for your RIA or financial advisory firm. But first, let’s take a look at the changes that Microsoft has made in the past decade and how these have affected the pricing of its commercial products.
The evolution of Microsoft 365
Since its release, the renowned productivity suite Office 365 has come to include a wide range of features and capabilities that have made it an indispensable tool for businesses. In 2017, Microsoft introduced Microsoft 365, which combined the best features of Office 365, Windows 10 Enterprise licenses, and other cloud-based security and device management products.
The company has since added several apps to the Microsoft 365 lineup, including Teams, SharePoint, and Power BI. It has also made major innovations in key areas such as communications and collaboration, security and compliance, and artificial intelligence (AI) and automation.
Communication and collaboration
Microsoft Teams has more than 250 million monthly active users today, making it one of the most popular business communication platforms in the market. It’s an integrated solution where users can chat, call, and collaborate in real time, share files and folders, hold online meetings, automate business processes, and more.
In 2020 alone, Microsoft released over 300 new features and enhancements for Teams, including Together mode, breakout rooms, and live captions with speaker attribution. Teams also now has a category of collaboration apps that’s designed to empower remote and hybrid workers. Additionally, users to work on projects together from anywhere at any time, without needing to switch between multiple apps and data.
Also, Microsoft added unlimited dial-in capabilities for Teams meetings, so users can join a meeting using virtually any device. And to streamline collaboration further, the company introduced real-time collaboration in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint desktop apps and added and expanded OneDrive cloud storage and the Exchange Online mailboxes.
Security and compliance
Over the past decade, Microsoft has added several security features to its commercial products, including advanced threat protection, data loss prevention, and message encryption. The company also introduced powerful compliance capabilities such as Content Search, eDiscovery, and core Litigation Hold as a response to increasing regulatory requirements.
Meanwhile, built-in mobile device management and other management tools like Microsoft Endpoint Manager help organizations keep their data and devices secure, making it easier to support remote and hybrid workforces.
AI and automation
Microsoft has also made significant investments in AI through the years. Cloud-powered AI capabilities help users save time by automatically creating maps, charts, and tables in Excel, as well as sorting email and removing clutter in Outlook. Furthermore, AI-powered real-time translation, captions, and transcription bridge the language barrier, making collaboration and communication among users across borders more accessible and engaging.
What is the best Microsoft 365 subscription for RIA or financial advisory firms?
The answer to this question depends on a number of factors, including the size of your RIA or financial advisory firm, your budget, and your specific needs.
If you’re a small business with a limited budget, Microsoft 365 E3 may be your best option. It includes all the essential productivity apps that you need to get work done, including the web and mobile versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and SharePoint.
If you’re looking for a more comprehensive solution that includes features like advanced security, cyberthreat protection, and compliance capabilities, Microsoft 365 E5 may be the better choice. It’s a great option for registered investment advisors and financial advisors like you, who need to protect confidential client information and comply with industry regulations.
If you’re unsure which subscription is right for you, or if your needs are more complex, you can speak with one of our specialists at RIA WorkSpace who can help you find the perfect solution for your business.
Microsoft has delivered a lot of value over the past decade, and its new pricing reflects that. With so many options and innovations available, it’s more important than ever to select the right subscription for your RIA or financial advisory firm. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you get the most out of your Microsoft 365 investment.