Altvia Recognizes Juneteenth as an Official Company Holiday

Starting in 2020, Juneteenth is an official company holiday for Altvia.

I am inspired by companies that have made similar policies around Juneteenth in recent days and am hopeful that those within and outside the Private Capital Markets will take a similarly bold step to be a catalyst for change and leadership.

If you are like me, you have experienced a range of emotions since George Floyd’s death on Monday, May 25 in Minneapolis. It’s ironic to me that this happened on Memorial Day, the day we celebrate servicemen and women who lost their lives fighting to protect the ideals of the United States. Perhaps Memorial Day 2020 will go down in history as the day that we as Americans were called to take responsibility for these ideals and initiate the changes necessary to be in integrity with them.

As the news coverage increased, it hit close to home as a native of the Twin Cities. While the killing took place in Minneapolis, the protests and unfortunate destruction of property spilled across the Mississippi River into St Paul. Much of the destruction in St Paul took place on the University Avenue corridor, mere blocks from where my mom grew up 70-80 years ago, and where my grandfather, the son of Irish immigrants, had a grocery store. His parents, along with other immigrants from Ireland, Scotland, Italy, and eastern Europe, came for the American Dream. It saddens me to think that there are people in those neighborhoods today that are questioning whether they can ever be included in the American Dream.

As the protests spread across the country and ultimately the world, I experienced a small taste of the conflict that can happen with different perspectives just inside of my own family. We had several heated discussions over those days with our kids alone.

As a family, we went to the protests in Denver on Sunday, May 31 to see if we could better inform our opinions by experiencing it first hand. We found ourselves saddened, angered, bothered, and even more confused. And hopeful.

The two weeks since have been a whirlwind. In quiet moments I continue to try to understand this new world we have entered and to try to find the ways that we as a company can be a force for good and a force for change.

While I alone don’t know the answer, I do know that as a company, we can start to find the answers, together.

I believe that a journey has started and in this journey, Altvia will be a tortoise.

When I first sat down to write this I had it in my mind that we were the tortoise in contrast to the hare. But then I realized the fallacy of that distinction. There is not one tortoise. I want a future where every company and every community can be tortoise. That through steady, thoughtful, and sustained action each will ultimately persevere. And while we will be a tortoise, we can still take inspiration from hares and support them as well. This is not a competition.

By closing the office on Friday for Juneteenth, Altvia invites our employees to start their own journey or accelerate a journey they may have already initiated. A journey about vision and understanding and education and love. This is about creating a future where Altvia and each of us individually can be a source of energy, inspiration, and abundance for our clients, partners, employees, and communities.

As a white person, I understand that the black community and all communities of color demand and deserve a rapid response. By stating that we will be a tortoise, I am not implying we sit on our hands and take our time, I am expressing that we’re in this to make a long-term sustained change and we understand that to do so, we need to be in for the long haul.

Internally, our team is collecting resources and designing additional programs in support of Juneteenth and our local community. We will communicate those as they are finalized and look forward to hearing about the additional steps you take as well — as always, please let me know if you have any ideas, questions, or concerns.

A traditional crm was built for general ‘customer’ scenarios

Software platforms have made the world a better place by making work a better place. Indeed the world is better off when people enjoy their jobs even marginally more, and workplace applications on big CRM platforms like Salesforce.com have done that and much more.

But the potential that platforms like these offer presents diminishing returns: once the platform provider has engineered too many industry specific components into its platform, its usefulness for other industries begins to be threatened, and with that so do the usefulness of the component tools built into the platform.

So it is with the CRM category that Salesforce.com has defined: it is generic enough to work for many industries, and yet still offers the potential for others to round off the edges and nail more vertically-oriented and extremely tailored software solutions.

Private capital markets are actually a great demonstration of this dynamic. Where generic CRM platforms simplify — appropriately so — to assume there’s a business, a customer, a sale, and service of that customer, there are a few industry-specific pieces that are missing.

Take for example, that investors become customers by investing through legal entities the GP raises. It’s a subtle but important nuance that just doesn’t make sense at a platform-as-a-service level (because it’s overly complicated for a simple one-time sale that many industries require), but which can easily be added without 10 years or software engineering. Once provided, the rest of the platform’s components become tremendously powerful again and you’re set to take over the world.

As a traditional CRM in our pillars methodology, these nuances must be present to properly account for investors in these legal entities, potential target companies and which are owned by these entities, the context of all interactions with these parties (as well as the appropriate overlap, ie co-investments), and how you’re arriving at finding these opportunities on both sides of the equation, such that you’re able to piece together what’s effective and what’s not. Not just because we say so, but because these are the very relationships and data that are key to the motivation behind a CRM in any industry.

It’s critical, too, that the valuable publicly-available information that helps to enrich CRM systems and save users painful steps of entering it themselves is fully-integrated at the platform level.

Again, look no further than the 3,000+ pre-built integrations that Salesforce.com — the creator of the CRM platform concept — has at a platform level to do so, and which only exists by way of holding just short of overly-specifying certain industry workflows that would present challenges to properly integrate.

Stakeholder reporting and communication (investor relations) draws on a range of datasets

The traditional “customer service” model of CRM systems once again makes overly-simplified assumptions about the customer relationship when applied to private capital markets.

In fifteen years I personally have yet to hear the terms “warranty” or “service call” in this market because it’s just not the same. But make no mistake, as uncomfortable as it may be to say aloud, customer service is more important now than ever and it’s constantly happening; the industry is, after all, considered to be a financial “service”.

As it turns out, that service is primarily information-based — it’s driven by data and takes the form of reports and analysis that drive decisions, and then end up again in investor-facing reports and analysis.

The foundational elements of a private capital markets CRM must be built such that they accommodate this data (like we discussed above), but so too that it can accommodate additional supporting data that investors (customers!) need in the context of service.

Oftentimes this supporting data — financial metrics and time-based values, for example — is believed not to meet the traditional definition of CRM and the natural thought is “well, better do this in Excel!”.

While I happen to believe Excel is still the greatest software application ever built, its introduction to this value chain we’ve discussed herein actually creates the problem many firms suffer from: key data needed to provide customer service (again: effectively the entirety of a firm’s reports and analysis) is now in disparate systems and detached.

Both of those dynamics are important and distinct: not only is this supplemental data disparate, but when brought together there is no logical association that can be made between the two data sets.

Allow me, then, to make the point very simply: not only can this financial and time-based value data (you may be thinking about is as “portfolio monitoring” or “accounting”) be a part of a CRM, it is arguably the most important part of a CRM because it’s at the core of what providing service to the customer entails — information that comes out of data!

Firms need a digital method to engage stakeholders (ie investor portals)

Investor portals are not new; in fact, for many of us — including myself — they conjure up horrifying nightmares in which we’re aimlessly guessing at folders to find the newest document we need.

So in lies the opportunity: not only have the portals we’ve come to hate not simplified the process of acquiring information, they’ve failed to create an entirely new experience that is “customer service” driven.

To be fair, this is not a B2C market where you’d be long out of business for not having focused on customer service and thus the customer’s technology-driven experience. But don’t expect to be around too much longer if you aren’t thinking about this shift.

Today’s institutional investors increasingly expect this same consumer-like experience, and a massive opportunity is being missed by not providing it. It’s not about providing them the experience they desire; it’s more about the ability to measure engagement that is had in return.

Put simply: what’s keeping the market from providing this experience is the availability of the information that’s required to create the service that provides the experience.

If you’ve hung in this long, you know that by focusing on your CRM, you have the data that’s required to manage the customer relationship and the technology-driven experience through which that information is shared to create a differentiated and opportunistic customer experience.

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