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Granite Solutions Groupe’s (GSG’s) client, a San Francisco-based private wealth management firm with a national footprint and offices in Los Angeles, Austin, Florida, and the Pacific Northwest, was running their business on a legacy investment management platform.

Building on a roadmap for replacing the majority of the existing platform were four project pillars requiring new accounting, trading, advisor desktop, and performance reporting software. Our client selected several key products to achieve their objectives, including FolioDynamics for Portfolio Accounting, Advent Moxy for Trading, and a custom, in-house application for their Advisor Desktop. Addepar, a 2019 Forbes 50 most innovative fintech company reporting platform, was selected for their reporting needs.

An important overall project outcome would be the ability to leverage the new system to scale the client’s business.

Opportunity

One of the things that was missing in the overall deployment of this new investment platform was a consulting resource who could understand, from a portfolio manager perspective, what it would mean to use the new platform in the wealth managers’ daily lives and empathize with them about the process of changing from one platform to another set of platforms. GSG’s client needed effective change management leaders with a strong understanding of a wealth management firm’s business needs.

Solution

GSG provided consultants who had worked with platform components or who had experience with other relevant products and were able to execute against gaps in change management expertise. GSG’s team of skilled project managers, business analysts, data analysts, and QA analysts were equipped with the investment and product knowledge to successfully implement a conversion initiative.

GSG deployed a change management consultant with front office, back office, and operational investments knowledge with whose role was to connect the four pillars (accounting, trading, advisor desktop, and performance reporting) required for the client’s platform upgrade while leading a team of experts that had the specific product expertise to implement the solution. The change manager leading the team was essential both for harmonizing project components and getting buy in to adopt the new platform.

Consulting Approach

GSG’s change management consultant traveled to each of the client’s offices, functioning as both platform evangelist and implementation therapist to support the wealth management team through the conversion process and help them understand the benefits of the new platform.

The consultant also served as a cross-functional strategic partner among the client, wealth management, and operational and technical units, evaluating, monitoring, and managing risk across the projects, and escalating as appropriate along with ensuring adherence to budgeting, financial forecasting, and cost accounting standards across the project pillars.

GSG broke the mold of traditional batch reporting mechanisms that use disparate systems to massage data and took data from its source to provide transparency and accessibility to meet the needs of very specialized, ultra high-wealth clients.

Other core consulting functions included:

Business Analysts. GSG’s business analysts worked with subject matter experts from the project team to determine business requirements for the implementation and developed these requirements into functional specifications, including communicating business term definitions and researching and analyzing data in support of business functions, process and workflow design, and user acceptance testing.

Data Analysts. GSG’s data analysts determined data requirements for the new platform, developed detailed data flow design documents, and participated in the full development process lifecycle from concept, through testing, to implementation.

Implementation

GSG provided a team of consultants with the skills, expertise, investment knowledge, and performance reporting knowledge to work alongside the product teams within the client organization over the course of the 18 month initiative to successfully implement each component of the investments platform solution.

Results

GSG’s client successfully launched their new platform including new core portfolio accounting, trading, advisor tools, and performance reporting components.

Benefits of the launch:

  • Standardized investment accounting practices
  • Provided a single system of record for client holdings
  • Simplified and modernized the performance reporting platform
  • Improved the quality and accuracy of performance reporting
  • Enhanced the client’s white glove customer experiences via increased flexibility and portfolio customization capabilities
  • Improved user and client experience for wealth advisors
  • Helped the client’s wealth advisors through the change process in a supportive way tackling change up front to support a seamless adoption of the new platform at the firm.

At project launch, GSG’s client had $70B in assets under management. Within three years, this successful platform realignment supported client growth to over $100B without adding significantly to their operational staffing needs.

Lessons Learned

Empathy is impossible without understanding. The unique aspect of what GSG did for our client was to use our consulting expertise to bring the company’s wealth advisors along with them as they grew instead of forcing change on them.

GSG’s strength is knowing our client. One of the reasons we deployed a change management consultant early in the project is that we already knew that change management and adoption are difficult. Furthermore, when people are involved early and often in a change management process they feel more ownership in the change, which inherently improves the training experience and overall adoption of the platform change.

Ultimately, it’s just as important to have support from the people who are the beneficiaries of the change as it is to have executive support. With unemployment at all-time lows and the quest for top talent is paramount to executive leadership, having the support of the teams that must adopt change is crucial to the overall success of any strategic initiative.