In 2013, Weston Financial had reached a stalemate. The technology platform Weston had been using – which was not robust enough to carry Weston forward – was being decommissioned by the vendor. The company was in need of a complete tech overhaul and a new, comprehensive platform to support its growth.
“We had no choice but to do something new, and implement a nimble, scaleable system to help us grow,” said Jake Filoon, Weston’s president and chief operating officer. “We knew we had to do a major overhaul on many fronts; we were still using homegrown applications, manually compiling performance reports, and we didn’t have any kind of client portal at all.”
Weston took an “academic textbook approach” to searching for a new system, Filoon said, looking for something that would support both business efficiency and client service as Weston continued to grow. Integration – a platform that would allow for flexibility, control and openness so that Weston could outsource some key functions – was also key in making a choice.
It didn’t take long for the firm to realize that Envestnet’s Tamarac met all its needs – present as well as future.
Weston signed on with Envestnet in 2014 and the data conversion process – the integration of existing as well as new data – began in 2015. The following year, Weston did a “very methodical rollout” to its clients, Filoon said, and they very quickly expressed their enthusiasm for the new system.
“We had been losing clients because our technology was not up to speed but once we got Tamarac, we could show them immediate value,” Filoon said. “The greatest benefit to our clients was that they could see all their information in one place; they didn’t have to go to different places to see it.”
He added, “It’s also become so much quicker for us to exchange documents with clients. Before, it would take us a week, maybe even a month, to get all the performance reports out. Now, they’re done in a matter of hours, so tangible effects are huge.”
With easy access to their information, clients no longer call advisors with basic questions like “what was my balance yesterday,” Filoon said, and that has enabled advisors to focus their efforts on more meaningful, value added interactions with their clients. Tamarac’s client portal has also made it easier for Weston’s advisors to reach out to and connect with the newer, younger clients that all advisory firms are cultivating. “Without this, we would run the risk of not staying in business,” Filoon said.
For Weston, technology has now become integral to business growth, and the two can go hand in hand thanks to the autonomy and customization possibilities that Tamarac offers individual advisory firms, he said.
“I liken it to driving a car: They have given us our car to drive, but we can change the radio stations or open the windows or customize the different fields as we like,” Filoon said.
While Weston is still implementing Tamarac’s basic capabilities, one important area that the firm will focus on is the integration of a financial planning software with held-away accounts.
These accounts are important to Weston, Filoon said, and the firm would also like to implement some asset allocation models with Tamarac. Using the Tamarac software, Weston has already launched a new and well-managed asset allocation model and investment solution for clients with lower investment balances.
Tamarac is constantly innovating and improving its capabilities, and regularly consults with its clients to get their input on how they would like to evolve and what’s important to them. This makes the process extremely dynamic and forward-looking, Filoon said.
In turn, Weston has been involving its own clients for feedback on the system and communicating those inputs to Tamarac, thereby further enhancing the platform.
“For example, we have already been able to show our clients two versions of a client portal and they have noticed how accomplished Tamarac is and that it has the resources to push out new versions,” he said.
— Read 13 Top-of-Mind Trends for Investment Managers on ThinkAdvisor.