If you want to understand how technology can make advisors of all kinds more efficient, talk to Stuart DePina. If you want a model for how a technology partner can better serve its clients, listen to Stuart DePina. If you want a vision for how an entrepreneur and his entrepreneurial firm can thrive after an acquisition by a larger firm, look at Stuart DePina.
DePina is a serial tech entrepreneur whose mostly RIA clients embraced Tamarac’s portfolio and client management software that welcomes third-party applications as well. And it’s kept improving the software through constant interaction with its users. “We give clients a voice,” says DePina, group president at Envestnet | Tamarac, “and turn voice into action,” though for many advisors, “execution is the hardest part.”
Since its purchase by Envestnet in 2012, DePina has continued to successfully guide Tamarac as part of a larger public company, no small feat in itself, while remaining the calm voice of technology understanding and advisor-client advocacy.
In a late April interview, DePina was aked whether the main technology issue for advisors is not having the newest technology per se but rather optimizing the technology tools advisors already have. “We’ve invested heavily here at Tamarac in training” advisors to use its offerings, he reported, focusing on “onboarding, training, maintenance and support.”
That’s why in January 2008 the company launched Tamarac University, an intensive three-day event — down to two days “starting about two years ago” — where the curriculum consists of a “first half-day at a pretty high level; the next day and a half, we get in the weeds.” That approach is necessary, DePina said, since “there are many different ways that advisors run their firms. Our whole mantra is to try to eliminate the amount of time advisors spend doing what they have to do.” That’s why, as a cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider, “every eight weeks there are enhancements we release” in order to “keep pace with what we hear from our clients.”
If the in-person Tamarac University is a “101″ course for advisors, the next step, or course 102, he said, is to “maintain contact with clients to drive awareness of these new features — webinars or one-on-one phone calls” conducted by a team of Tamarac client service reps.
The next level, “you could call it 301,” DePina joked, is utilizing a team of Tamarac consultants “who’ve worked in an advisory firm, usually in operations, but others who ran their own practices,” who spend time in clients’ offices to solve their specific issues. “The types of firms we service, usually larger firms, they like us to be in their offices,” he said.