EVP News Articles The latest news from EVP Systems https://www.evpsys.com/ Wed, 29 Aug 2018 00:00:00 PDT EVP Systems Successfully Completes Disaster Recovery Exercise EVP Systems is proud to announce that we have successfully completed a full business continuity and disaster recovery drill, encompassing the company's entire technical and physical infrastructure. In the event of a disaster at either of our California offices or at the Data Center in Virginia, we are capable of continuing to do business without interruption.

Data Center

EVP Systems maintains two active instances of our Data Center, the servers and databases that EstateVal and the other EVP Office applications get data from. The two physically disparate instances run in parallel, in separate Amazon Web Services Availability Zones. If either side becomes unavailable, the other automatically takes the full load, and is capable of providing pricing at full capacity.

The Data Center failover is tested quarterly, and the details -- as well as a history of test results -- is available in our "Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity" documentation.

Woodland Hills

On Friday, June 29th, the employees from our Woodland Hills, California, office (the Support and Professional Services Departments) reported to an off-site location, and successfully performed all their duties. This exercise simulated a disaster at the office, when access would be unavailable.

Each department had nothing with them from the office, and were given new laptops that had the standard EVP Systems configuration freshly installed. The fax line that terminates in the Woodland Hills office was redirected to the new location. No client disruption was caused.

(EVP Systems hosts as much of its infrastructure as possible in the cloud, including Google for e-mail and document sharing, Microsoft Azure for workstation authentication and Microsoft Office licensing, and Dropbox for file sharing. This allows a properly configured laptop with an Internet connection to effectively function anywhere.)

Santa Barbara

Between Thursday, August 23 and August 27, 2018, our Santa Barbara headquarters (consisting of the Accounting, Sales, and Administrative Departments) was closed to simulate a disaster, and the employees reported to another off-site location. Similar to Woodland Hills, they had nothing from the office with them, and were issued freshly configured workstations. The main switchboard was routed to the off-site location at the telecom provider.

As with Woodland Hills, the transition to another location and new hardware was seamless. No client disruption occurred.

Summary

With these exercises, EVP Systems has successfully demonstrated that if any of our locations are compromised -- whatever the cause -- we can continue to serve our clients. In the event of a legitimate disaster, the company's first priority is the safety of our employees, but once that is established, we are capable of carrying on all of our primary business functions without disruption.

If you have questions about EVP Systems business continuity and disaster recovery plans, please don't hesitate to contact our Support Department, at support@evpsys.com or (818) 313-6300.]]> https://www.evpsys.com/news/ /news/diaster-recovery.html Wed, 29 Aug 2018 00:00:00 PDT EstateVal 8.2 Introduces Evaluation Icons, for Easy Status Checks In EstateVal, the difference between a portfolio that's been evaluated and one that hasn't is everything -- the software exists to tell you what the securities in the portfolio are worth, quickly and accurately. Before the evaluation, you have CUSIPs and Shares. After, you have a report that lets you file Form 706 Schedule B worry-free.

But the program itself doesn't change all that much after you run an evaluation. In fact, if you load a portfolio, there's no way to tell from the main screen if it's already been evaluated. That's crazy!

So in EstateVal 8.2, we've added "evaluation status icons." These are small images that appear next to each lot in the grid, telling you the exact state of that security for both the Date of Death and Alternate Date. It makes the work you've done instantly identifiable, but also allows you to quickly see which securities might have a problem.

To turn on the icons, go to Tools > Options... > Standard and set "Show Evaluation Status" to "Yes." Two columns will appear on the right side of the gird, the first representing the Date of Death evaluation status for the current Date of Death, and the second representing the Alternate Date.

An empty circle means the security hasn't been evaluated -- EstateVal has not attempted to get pricing. A green ball means the security has been successfully priced and all is well. A yellow ball means the security has been evaluated and a price was retrieved, but that price was not for the exact evaluation date, and might merit more research -- it could be because the security is thinly-traded or stopped pricing. A yellow pen in a square indicates a user-defined price, meaning that you have manually edited in a price. A red X shows a security that EstateVal could not price, because of an unknown CUSIP or unavailable pricing or some other issue. Red Xs will show up on reports as "N/A" and you should definitely check them out, to find out what the issue is!

At the top of each column, in the header of the grid, is a "summary icon" that will show the status of every lot for that report in the portfolio. If everything is priced properly, it will be a green ball. If everything is successfully priced, but one single price does not come from the valuation date, it will be a yellow ball, to indicate at a glance that somewhere in the portfolio, there may be a problem. If there's a red X, be sure to scroll through all your lots, to find where the trouble is -- once it's corrected, the summary icon will adjust and you can know that your reports will be exactly as you intended.

Likewise, if you have adjusted inventories for the Alternate Date, the evaluation status icon for that lot in the second column will behave the same way was the summary icons in the header: if there's one inventory item with a user-defined price, for example, the icon will show the pen-within-a-square, to let you know that that's the lot that's been manually changed. If you run an Alternate Date report, and then add an adjusted inventory item, the icon will switch to the grey circle, to let you know that that lot still needs data.

Evaluation status icons are a fast and convenient way to find out the state of your portfolio at a glance. It's colorful, automatic, and a heck of a lot easier than printing out and looking through the report!]]> https://www.evpsys.com/news/ /news/820-icons.html Tue, 13 Mar 2018 00:00:00 PDT EstateVal 8.2 Features Data-Entry Smarts EstateVal has one of the cleanest user interfaces in the industry, and getting your data into it -- while always easy -- is now even easier, with the paste-from-Excel feature in EVP Office 8.2. But what if that data is wrong?

EstateVal has always been able to do a little sanity checking as you go (it will tell you if the check-digit on a CUSIP is incorrect, for instance) but what if it could be smarter than that? What if it could check for other errors? Bad dates, and mis-entered share amounts, and logical inconsistencies in inventory adjustments?

Now, it can.

EstateVal 8.2 will light up the lot numbers on the grid in a warning shade of yellow, if it thinks there is something wrong with the lot. If you hover the mouse over the yellow number, it will show you a summary of the problems in a pop-up windows.

For instance, in Tools > Options > Methodology, it's possible to set EstateVal to accept either the face value of a mortgage-backed security in the Shares/Par column of the grid, or the remaining principal. If the setting one way, and the value you enter is another, you'll end up with an evaluation that's either much too high (if the program expected remaining principal and you entered face-value) or much too low (if the situation is the other way around).

EstateVal will now warn you about this error, by turning the lot number yellow if it expects face-value and the number in Shares/Par is not divisible by 1,000 (which his how mortgage-backeds are distributed). Likewise, if the program expects remaining-principal and sees a nice, round value, that's sign that something is wrong.

(Because EstateVal needs to run the evaluation to discover if a security is a mortgage-backed, these warnings will only show up after you've evaluated a portfolio, so be sure to check for them then.)

If there's problem with a lot's inventory, the lot number will also show yellow, a description of the problem will appear when you hover over it, and there will be a warning icon on the "Adjust Inventory" button. Select the lot and click "Adjust Inventory" to discover what it is.

Since the problem with the lot might be with the adjusted inventory for any report, the one with the issue will have the warning icon on its tab. In this case, it's the Alternate Date. Click it to show the Alternate Date inventory.

It looks like this lot was sold before the Alternate Date and the sale inventory item is the source of the problem, since it is also highlighted in yellow. If you select it and click "Edit," you can see the details of the item, and the trouble.

Ah! The problem is with the sale date, which is why it's highlighted. If you hover over it, a pop-up will appear to explain. It looks like a typo caused the sale-date of the item to be entered as a year after the Alternate Date. That's an obvious error now that it's been pointed out, but it could have been hard to spot in a large portfolio.

There are a lot of errors like this that EstateVal is now smart enough to spot and flag for you: zero-share sales, acquisition dates after the Date of Death, invalid CUSIPs in inventories, zero-values or zero-accruals for user-defined data, inventory action dates before the Date of Death or after the evaluation date. Each of the fields will turn yellow and show a pop-up explaining the problem when you hover over them. Some make it so you can't even exit the adjusted inventory item dialog until they've been corrected.

If you're looking at the grid in a portfolio that as a problem, any of these issues will cause the warning to bubble back up, through the adjusted inventory item list, to the report tab in the lot dialog, all the way back to the lot numbers on the grid.

That's EstateVal's new way of helping you out!]]> https://www.evpsys.com/news/ /news/820-warnings.html Fri, 09 Mar 2018 00:00:00 PDT EstateVal 8.2 Offers Paste-From-Excel and Find The goal of EstateVal 8.2 was to make entering data into it faster, easier and more accurate, by focusing on the user-interface for the first time in years. This is the first article of three about these new features, covering Paste-from-Excel and Find.

Paste from Excel

For literally decades, EstateVal has had the ability to import a list of CUSIPs and shares from Excel. But exporting the CSV (comma-separated value) file from Excel and then loading it into EstateVal could be a tedious process.

So we're happy to introduce paste-from-Excel! Now, if you have a column of CUSIPs in Excel, you can simply highlight them there, copy them to the clipboard, and then paste them into EstateVal, just like it was another spreadsheet. If you copy two columns, EstateVal will put the second column into its Shares/Par column.

You can even grab CSV values from a text editor and paste them into the grid. If you have data that looks like this:

IBM,100
MSFT,250
AAPL,50

...then copy-and-paste works just like it does from Excel.

It's an incredibly handy feature that is both more intuitive and more flexible than the CSV file import. You can copy hundreds of CUSIPs and shares from Excel and paste directly them into EstateVal in seconds.

Find

Speaking of hundreds of CUSIPs, EstateVal allows you to enter up to five hundred CUSIPs into a portfolio by default -- but that number is arbitrary and can be changed, up to 9,999! Either way, that's a lot of CUSIPs! So what if you have a giant portfolio, and need to find a specific security in that very long list? Before EstateVal 8.2, you'd start at the top and carefully scroll down until you happened to stumble across it. Miss it? Start over.

But that's silly. Word processors, spreadsheets -- every program imaginable -- has had search for decades. Why not EstateVal? Finally, it does.

Clicking Tools > Find... or pressing Ctrl+F will bring up the new Find dialog. Type in a search -- either the identifier you've entered into EstateVal, or the name of the security if you've run an evaluation -- and press "Find." A status line in the dialog will show you the first lot that matches and the grid will jump to that lot, highlighting it. Click "Find" again, and it will search for the next match in your list. Keep clicking and eventually it will wrap around to the first again. If you're looking for a single CUSIP in a list of 500, this can be an enormous time-saver.

You can also drop down a list of other ways to search in the Find dialog: Unpriced lots, user-priced lots, old-priced lots or failed-to-price lots, for either the Date of Death report, the Alternate Date report, or both. (An unpriced lot is one that hasn't been evaluated yet; user-priced are items that use the "User-Defined Information" section of the lot inventory dialog; old-priced lots have been evaluated and have a price, but the price is older than evaluation date; failed-to-price lots are items that EstateVal could not find a price for.) If you've got a big portfolio and want to find that one security that has been manually priced, or that didn't price, these selections make the process quick and efficient.

Next Time...

These are only two of the great new features that EstateVal 8.2 has. Come back soon for more!]]> https://www.evpsys.com/news/ /news/820-paste-find.html Wed, 07 Mar 2018 00:00:00 PDT EVP Office 8.2 Released, Focuses on Helping Users EVP Office 8.2.0 -- including the latest version of EstateVal -- was released today and can be downloaded, as always, for free. This release focuses on making entering data into the programs easier, faster and more error-free.

Over the next several days, new articles will appear here on EVP Systems website, to describe all the new user-convenience features in 8.2. A brief run-down is available now in the list of changes that accompanies every release, but these stories will be complete tutorials, to make understanding and using the new features as simple as possible.

If you're just starting out with EstateVal, or have used it for decades, you'll learn how the user-interface additions will help to make your work better. From easier data entry, to automatic error checking, to a great new feature that gives you an overview of your entire portfolio at a glance, these features are the biggest changes to the EstateVal interface in years.

We think you're going to like what you see.]]> https://www.evpsys.com/news/ /news/8-2-0/index.html Mon, 05 Mar 2018 00:00:00 PDT EVP Systems Completes Spectre and Meltdown Upgrades On January 3, 2018, two vulnerabilities in all modern CPUs were made public: Spectre (CVE-2017-5715 and CVE-2017-5753) and Meltdown (CVE-2017-5754). EVP Systems completed the installation of vendor-provided mitigations for these flaws -- for both their cloud-based data center servers and desktop machines -- on January 13, 2018.

EVP Systems' servers all run the Ubuntu 16.04 operating system. A vendor-provided kernel that prevents the CPU from being exploited by the flaws was made available on January 9, 2018 and applied during the next maintenance window, on January 13, 2018.

All EVP Systems' Windows desktop machines automatically apply patches nightly via Windows Update, and received the fix (KB4056892) the night of January 4, 2018. All Macs were upgraded to macOS 10.13.2 with the supplemental security patch release on January 9, 2018.

EVP Systems does not issue cell phones or other devices to its employees, but has provided technical assistance so their personal systems can be safely upgraded. In addition to the Windows and macOS upgrades for employee's own computers, the company has recommended that iPhones be upgraded to iOS 11.2.2 (as of January 8, 2018) and that Android owners contact their vendor to get a patch designed for their specific device.

EVP Systems other CPU-based machines -- its printers, scanners, routers, and alarm and phone systems -- do not have vendor-provided patches available yet, though since these devices are all run purpose-specific operating systems and are not designed to be either virtualized or to execute arbitrary code, the risk of exploitation is nearly non-existent. However, part of the company's monthly security review will now include checking vendor sites, and updated operating systems or firmware will be applied if and when they are released.

If you have any questions or concerns about either the Spectre or Meltdown exploits or EVP Systems' responses to them, please don't hesitate to contact our Support Department at (818) 313-6300 or support@evpsys.com.]]> https://www.evpsys.com/news/ /news/spectre-meltdown.html Sun, 14 Jan 2018 00:00:00 PDT EstateVal 8.1.0 Adds Primary or Composite Pricing Options, Enhanced Dividend Reporting Estate Valuations & Pricing Systems is proud to announce the release of EstateVal 8.1.0, included in the latest version of EVP Office. The new version offers unparalleled control over how estates are priced and gives deeper insight into portfolio dividends, among many other features and fixes.

Primary vs. Composite Pricing

EstateVal 8.1.0 introduces an industry exclusive: the ability to select if your reports are valued using primary-exchange or composite prices. (Primary prices come solely from the exchange where a security is "primarily dealt," while composite prices are a calculated value from across multiple exchanges that trade the instrument.)

Over the years, many EVP clients have explicitly asked for one or the other, depending on their preference and interpretation of the tax code. To date, the IRS itself has not stated a definitive interpretation of the Regulation.

Which is why the new version of EstateVal offers a choice. "Primary" mode will always return primary-exchange prices. "Composite" mode will always return composite. "Default" mode follows EVP's best practices, and is the right choice for most clients.

(For more details, please see Primary and Composite Exchange Pricing in EstateVal.)

No other estate valuation software offers this level of control or compliance with your company or firm's valuation policies.

Enhanced Dividend Reporting

EstateVal 8.1.0 also adds "dividend notes." These are informational items that are included next to dividends on reports if they are noteworthy in some way.

For instance, particular stocks issue particular dividends that owe Canadian taxes. Previously, EstateVal would include the dividend and properly add the value into the estate's total, but not give an indication that there may be a special circumstance regarding additional obligations. Now, along with the dividend, the report might include "U.S. funds subject to 15% Canadian non-resident tax," to let you know that our neighbors to the north expect to hear from you. If a dividend is to be treated as capital gains (which are taxed at a different rate than normal cash dividends), EstateVal will now let you know. If a dividend is paid on post-tax money, EstateVal will now let you know.

EstateVal 8.1.0 includes another dividend improvement, as well: any conversion between the currency the dividend is denominated in and the currency of the security is now documented on the report. For example, if a security denominated in British pounds pays a dividend in Hong Kong dollars, 8.1.0 will show the conversion between HKD and GBP, along with the exchange rate, before the whole security is converted to US dollars.

All this is added to our already unique ability to access dividends on foreign securities and properly convert them to US dollars. Only EstateVal gives this level of detail and accuracy with all dividends, domestic and foreign.

Features and Fixes

EVP Office 8.1.0 also includes over twenty other new features and bug fixes, to all its applications: CostBasis, CapWatch and GiftVal, in additional to EstateVal. It's the best version of the software ever, and we encourage you to install it today.

If you have any questions or comments about pricing or dividends or anything else in the new EstateVal — or have an idea for the next version — please don't hesitate to let us know at support@evpsys.com.]]> https://www.evpsys.com/news/ /news/8-1-0/index.html Fri, 10 Nov 2017 00:00:00 PDT EVP Unaffected by Juniper Backdoors It was announced recently that routers produced by Juniper Networks were compromised by backdoors installed in their firmware over several versions and since 2012.

EVP Systems does not use Juniper hardware, and therefore was unaffected by the malicious code.

If you have any questions about the security of the data that EVP uses, please don't hesitate to contact our Support Department.]]> https://www.evpsys.com/news/ /news/juniper/index.html Sun, 20 Dec 2015 00:00:00 PDT Phishing Site E-Mail Sent from EVP Account On October 7, 2015, you may have received an e-mail that appeared to come from EVP Systems (from "sarah@evpsys.com" and titled "Doc") asking that you click on a link to view a file on Google Docs, an on-line file-editing system. Clicking on the link had the potential to lead you to a "phishing page" -- a website that imitates well-known Internet destinations -- in an attempt to get you to enter your login information, in this case for any Google account you may have. Most browsers blocked this request, as did many anti-malware packages.

This e-mail was the result of an attack on a single EVP employee's e-mail account. The false e-mail was sent to all the addresses that had corresponded with this employee. No other information was compromised in the attack, and the e-mail account was successfully quarantined and secured shortly after the mail was sent.

EVP Systems does not have access or store any client-confidential information. No data other than the e-mail addresses was exposed to the attackers.

EVP Systems takes on-line security seriously, and has revisited and refined the process and policies regarding passwords and Internet-based accounts. If you have any questions about the e-mail you received, or EVP's approach to data security in general, please don't hesitate to get in touch.]]> https://www.evpsys.com/news/ /news/phishing-site/index.html Thu, 08 Oct 2015 00:00:00 PDT EVP Systems Unaffected by "Poodle" Vulnerability As with "Heartbleed" and "Shellshock," EVP Systems' servers are unaffected by the newly-announced "Poodle" SSL vulnerability. No authorized access has been allowed because of Poodle, nor has any client data been affected.

"Poodle" is a recently discovered flaw in the Secure Socket Layer Version 3, a security protocol used by older Web browsers and servers. The flaw allows a "man-in-the-middle" to intercept supposedly secure communication when it is encrypted with SSLv3 and view the messages.

The most common solution to mitigating Poodle is to simply stop using SSLv3. While modern Web browsers use the still-secure TLS by default, they can be tricked into falling back to SSLv3 and become vulnerable when talking to SSLv3-capable servers. By disabling SSLv3 on the server, you can be assured that no decipherable requests can be sent to it. By disabled SSLv3 on the browser, you can be assured that it will not make those requests.

EVP Systems has taken these measures. Our internal browsers have had their ability to send SSLv3 requests disabled, so that no out-bound communication can be intercepted. Our servers have had the ability to accept SSLv3 requests disabled.

This last action is a moot point, however, since EVP Systems does not use SSL in any of its Internet-based communications. Our website uses the HTTP protocol (which is unaffected by Poodle) and out applications and data center, by design, do not pass proprietary or confidential information over the Internet. Our e-mail is hosted by Google, accessed through Outlook using TLS, and our internal files are stored on Dropbox using their secure desktop client.

If you have any questions about Poodle or any aspect of security at EVP Systems, please don't hesitate to write us at support@evpsys.com.]]> https://www.evpsys.com/news/ /news/poodle/index.html Thu, 16 Oct 2014 00:00:00 PDT