The Awful Truth About Managing Change

To paraphrase a former British prime minister, he who rejects change is the architect of decay. The only place that can reject change is the cemetery. No one wants their business to be compared to a graveyard. This forces everyone to keep up with the increasing rate of change in the industry and in our practices. Over the years, we have observed that transitions and unexpected twists have a way of highlighting the weakest and the strongest links in processes and ways of thinking. Changes that can have a serious impact on your firm include:
  • Alternative Investment Reporting Change
  • Custodian Change 
  • Key Staff Member Change
We will be walking you through three Accusource client stories to explain some best practices for effectively dealing with all three of these change areas.

Change in Reporting for Alternative Investments

Peregrine Financial Corporation, a Boston-based wealth management firm, came to us concerned about potential risk exposure within their legacy process for reporting on alternative investments.  Firms using Advent Portfolio Exchange (APX) as their portfolio accounting system must manually enter updated market values for all alternative investments every month.  This requires a staff member to locate the specific prices on closing statements and combine them with investment counts from APX in order to perform the calculations which must be accurate down to the last decimal point. The process was tedious, time-consuming and prone to errors. The Accusource team knew that a recent update to APX allowed for new and improved reporting functionality for private equities. The new procedure requires only a single input point and no calculations. We trained the client’s internal team and had positive feedback after the first month of reporting. “We have transitioned our alternative holdings over to the new PEUS functionality, and saw increased efficiency and reduced errors,” explained Stephanie Bosserman of Peregrine Financial Corporation.  “We would not have been successful without the expertise and experience of your staff.  They became a seamless extension of our own back office.” The best news was that this change positioned the team at Peregrine Financial Corporation to take advantage of any future functionality roll-outs.

Change in Custodians

A change in custodians has the potential to uproot normal operations of any wealth management firm. Capital Counsel, one of our clients, was dreading the switch well in advance and for good reason: with the multitude of custodian combinations, there is no standard checklist to follow. If you have never managed a custodian change, you will be learning your lessons as you go! This was not an appealing thought to the head of a busy office, so he reached out to Accusource for advice. Our team has assisted clients through dozens of custodian changes, and we knew just where to start. One of the most labor-intensive and critical components of the transition is account mapping. Every custodian uses a different set of account numbers. Client portfolios must be mapped correctly in order to properly accept the new data feeds – a process that takes time and painstaking attention to detail. An error here means hours of combing through data feeds in search of transposed account numbers. Having done this before, our team went to work using an SQL-aided mapping process that is highly efficient and accurate. After the new feed went live, the client breathed a sigh of relief. “Your team’s deep application expertise, reliable service and swift response time enabled us to focus on serving our clients more effectively and efficiently during this transition period,” was the feedback from Justin Berrie, CCO at Capital Counsel. A busy office has no time to waste looking for mapping errors!

Change in Key Staff Members

We all know the awful feeling when a key staff member gives his or her two weeks’ notice. With expertise and process know-how about to walk to out the door, the announcement unleashes a wave of frantic scrambling. Who will take over the responsibilities? Is there enough time to train that person? How do you make sure that no task, big or small, falls through the cracks during the next month-end close? One of our clients has recently had a staff person quit right before the month-end close. Our core service package for that office focused on preparing reconciliation. However, this was the perfect time to take advantage of a feature we include in every contact: a certain number of “free hours” for the Accusource team to work on any out of scope needs that may come up. After a quick phone call, our team went to work taking over the responsibilities of the professional who left the firm. There was no interruption to the client’s business, and the month-end close ran smoothly. The staffing risk was mitigated, and the client got the opportunity to “test-drive” our expertise in a whole new area. Some of our clients have relied on our team to cover temporary staff absences. Christie Crouch, Vice President of Reporting at Edge Capital Partners, has been supported by the Accusource team through three maternity leaves. “Before each maternity leave, we would have a meeting in order to get a clear understanding of how long we would need coverage for, who at Accusource and Edge Capital Partners would be covering my every day responsibilities, as well as any one-off items that needed to be taken care of,” shared Christie.  Upon return, she could expect a thorough briefing with the Accusource team to get up to speed. Christie’s experience highlights that when your key process is co-sourced with Accusource, you are insulated from both short-term and long term staffing changes. Whether someone is permanently moving on from your firm or just changing responsibilities, our team is there to make the transition smooth and error-free, even if that function is not part of the original scope of services.

Asset Managers Need Expert Help in Times of Change

When selecting an outsourcing or co-sourcing partner, it’s important to choose a company that will become a true extension of your back office. This gives you access to a deep pool of specialized knowledge and positions you to better deal with the inevitable changes to your systems, processes and staffing. As you interview potential outsourcing partners, be sure to ask about the way they handle communications. With many moving parts and potential for error, timely and clear communication is critical to success. When you have a conversion or a reconciliation issue, you do not have the time to waste on the phone to a call center! At Accusource, our clients get a single point of contact who will handle all of their requests. This approach allows us to learn the ins and outs of each client’s data at a deep level and truly serve as an extension of their team. When it comes to collaboration, your office deserves nothing less. Sign-up for the Accusource Newsletter