Archive for September, 2012
In His Own Words: Financial Advisor Philip Benson On Implementation Of AdvisorVault For PortfolioCenter Reporting And Secure Client Portals
On June 1, 2012, Philip Benson Financial Services, an investment management and financial planning firm in San Francisco, purchased AdvisorVault’s integrated PortfolioCenter application from Advisor Products. AdvisorVault is a secure client portal system and can batch process PortfolioCenter reports. Within three months, Benson was successfully using the integrated application to deliver quarterly performance reports and invoices to clients securely, saving the firm time and money.
Philip Benson, 64, who spent three years at Merrill Lynch before giving up his securities sales licenses in 2003 and founding his fee-only fiduciary firm, explains his firm’s successful implementation of AdvisorVault as a secure client portal, in his own words below.
We manage portfolios for 40 families — their investable assets and their children’s 529 college savings plans — and we do financial planning for most of them. I do the investment management and the financial planning along with the help of my associate. We needed to become more efficient. We did not want to raise our fees in this economy. I concluded the solution was not hiring more staff but maximizing technology. Each quarter, we both spent about a day and a half printing, stuffing, stamping and mailing the reports. It was obvious we could benefit from electronically uploading invoices and quarterly reports to a secure vault.
I looked at several solutions, some of which were less expensive than Advisor Products. But AdvisorVault is keyed into financial services and Advisor Products has a relationship with Schwab Performance Technologies allowing it to provide bulk-upload features. Plus, your product has been offered for several years.
Our project manager, Kevin Chin, suggested that, rather than sending out one mass email to all of our clients, we launch 10 clients at a time and follow up with calls to each of them when needed. That was a great approach. Out of 40 clients, only three have not signed up.
We deduct the fees from most client accounts, but some prefer to write the check every quarter. We were able to personalize emails using AdvisorVault’s communication module for both types of billing situations. The beautiful thing is your developers make it look like the emails are coming from us directly.
When I did my due diligence, I heard Advisor Products had a good product but that we might not be able to get as much support as one might want. That was absolutely not the case; it could not have been further from the truth. We got all the support we needed. And we are the type of client who may request a lot of support in the beginning and then we tend to sail on our own until something comes up when we need additional support.
I don’t want AdvisorVault to distance me from clients. I want technology to help me stay in contact with clients and free me to build new business. If only 75% of clients log in to look at their reports, I send an email asking the other 25% who have not logged in to ask if they need any help. When I mailed out paper statements, we did not know who was opening the envelopes. Now, I can reach out to those clients who had not reviewed their reports.
We were burning paper, ink and time. We were combining different documents into PDFs in preparation for printing. There was a lot of manual labor involved. The AdvisorVault piece that previously took a day and half every quarter takes about an hour now, plus we’re not spending on paper, ink, and postage.
Thus far, we haven’t done any marketing. I’ve never made an outbound cold call and all new business comes from referrals. We’ve been focused on taking care of our clients and building a solid infrastructure. We will be ready to engage in marketing and business development soon. Technology will enable us to have more free time to do this.
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