Just over a year ago, my team and I moved to RVP. Thankfully, most of our clients had enough confidence in our team to join us at RVP. One year in, many of you have asked us, “how is it going”? The short answer is that the merger of our teams is going really well, and that we feel lucky to be together at RVP.
Of course, the proof is in the pudding—meaning the test of how the move has gone is with you, our clients. With this move, there has been a significant increase in resources and support available to our team, providing us more time to more directly serve you. As always, we welcome your feedback on any aspect of our relationship. Below is a Q&A with Jennifer Davis, an advisor who made the move to RVP with me.
When you undergo a major career change like this one, inevitably you picture it going a certain way, and reality does not always match up with what you envisioned. What types of surprises did you encounter once you made the move to RVP?
I was introduced to RVP because of my relationship with Dave McGranahan, my now business partner and college classmate. I had a huge amount of trust in Dave given we’ve known each other for more than 35 years! Dave promised me that he and the rest of the RVP team would work closely with us to integrate with RVP. What surprised me the most is how much support we received and how much our new RVP colleagues involved themselves in every detail of our work.
In the months before we moved to RVP, the team there worked many long days to prepare and send out all the paperwork that was needed to make sure we’d have no interruption in service as of January 1. Once we were on board, we spent time with our new colleagues reviewing each client portfolio in depth and onboarding client data into the portfolio management software—Black Diamond. I am blown away by how powerful the software is and how much more efficient our meeting preparation is. I also love that clients who are interested can have access to their data through a portal, and I’m pleasantly surprised how quickly we could make this happen.
I thought that we’d receive a lot of advice and support from our new colleagues but didn’t expect they’d be there every step of the way doing the work with us.
With this merger, there were a lot of stakeholders, and a lot of people’s interests you had to consider. How did you balance those competing priorities? What challenges did you encounter?
The most significant stakeholders in this transition were our clients. Our belief that RVP’s additional resources and capabilities would ultimately benefit our clients was the driving force behind the move. Additionally, my team is critical to making sure we could continue doing a good job serving our clients, so I had to make sure joining RVP would motivate and provide opportunities for them. Change is hard, so I wanted to make sure there was as little disruption as possible to both clients and the team. I wanted my team to be able to focus their talents on the aspects of their jobs that could help them grow and develop faster.
For the clients, I wanted them to be better served over time, but in the short run I wanted to take care of them as we had been. I told them all that they would keep the same team and that the move would only have upside for them. So making sure those promises could be kept was forefront in my mind.
While we’ve worked hard to keep our value proposition the same, in terms of highly personal and customized advice to clients, we’ve changed the majority of the processes that underlie the advice. The biggest change has been our reporting—we stopped using Excel, and migrated our client data to Black Diamond.
Having our clients’ financial data be available in real time to us (and to them) is a huge upgrade. However, moving data accurately and making the reports most user friendly for our clients has taken longer than we all expected. Change is always hard! The team has had to learn a new software system and learn new ways of doing most tasks. However, the upside is that the new processes are much faster and now many routine tasks are systematized to reduce errors and hassle for our clients.
Obviously though, you made the change for a reason and there must be some payoff for the hard work you’ve been putting in. What kinds of efficiencies and benefits are you seeing now?
I think we’re just at the beginning of what we can accomplish together, given that much of the last year has been spent on building our infrastructure. Getting the “back office” organized is rewarding because it provides huge peace of mind. For example, our billing is centralized now and is hard wired into the system. For clients, the upside is we’re spending a lot less time on invoicing and processing payments, which gives us more time to focus on work with more meaningful impact to them.
On the investment front, last year was a challenging year for our clients’ investment portfolios. However, we were able to tax loss harvest for clients much more efficiently, given that our trading is centralized. Every 45 days we run a report showing losses and our trading team captured the losses the next day. In the past, we would have reviewed each client portfolio individually, and as a result did not tax loss harvest as frequently. In a volatile market, it is important to capture losses while they are there. These types of upgrades to our processes have added tangible value to our clients and made us a more efficient operation, which is very gratifying.
You’re one year in, but this is just the beginning of a long runway ahead. What do you think the future holds for the “new and improved” RVP team?
The goal is to do as much as we can for clients. The more efficient we are on the operational tasks, the more time we have to spend providing customized advice to clients. We do have more infrastructure improvements we’re working on, like integrating Canoe, an alternative investment reporting tool that uses artificial intelligence to “read” private equity calls and distributions.
Overall, we will continue to work hard on differentiating ourselves, because I know our clients have a lot of choices when it comes to financial advice. My goal is to continue being our clients’ trusted advisors—I want to be the first call they make with any financial concern or question. Ultimately the relationship we have with our clients is what makes this business so rewarding.
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