A Review of THRIVE 2020

Earlier this month, Altvia clients and friends joined us for our inaugural THRIVE user conference to learn, connect and leverage the Altvia technology for the Private Capital Markets industry. 

THRIVE was two days of discussions from pioneers of the Private Capital Markets, one-on-one working sessions with clients, and workshops with technology best practices.

We kicked off the event with a keynote with Jerry Colonna and Altvia CEO, Kevin Kelly, where they discussed that the true returns on investment in the Private Capital Markets don’t solely come from products but from relationships. That we don’t only invest dollars but we invest trust and that true value comes in leadership throughout the firm. 

In addition to ‘thinking big,’ discussions around our current product workflows and enhancements inspired by clients were some of the most helpful to attendees. 

Overall, the conference was an opportunity to affirm our partnership with our clients and hear firsthand what they need to succeed in the changing environment.

Three main themes that emerged repeatedly throughout the two days of THRIVE were:

  1. “How does my firm’s technology compare to the industry?”
  2. “How do we  streamline communications for investors to create trust?”
  3. “How can we ease the frequent data requests from our LPs?”

“How Does My Firm’s Technology Compare To The Industry?” 

During our “Reimagining Your Technology Strategy” session, Jill Montera, VP of Customer Success shared a frequently asked question from our clients, “What are best practices for Private Capital Markets and what is everyone else doing that I should be doing?”. 

In the session, Jill unveiled the Business Maturity Model from Altvia’s Customer Success team. Firms use the model to measure where they stand in 5 key areas of success:: 

Technology – the investment made and how the use of it within your firm evolves over time 

Data & Analytics –  your firm’s data quality, and how your firm utilizes it to share insightful reporting 

People – how the team as a whole uses and adopts technology and if there are the right players within the firm to drive an internal or external technology strategy 

Processes – your firm’s business processes and how well they are aligned within the technology

Sponsorship – the involvement of a senior-level executive sponsor  throughout technology implementations and how it correlates to project success

Using details under each category, you score along the scale from  “developing” to “emerging”, “strategic” and for those really progressive, “market-leading”.

The WHY? 

With more firms implementing technology to keep up with the demands of external stakeholders regarding transparency, communication, and reporting, it’s important to understand and evaluate where you sit within the 5 areas to be competitive and get the most return on your investment. 

See where your firm stands with the Business Maturity Model assessment here and get a summarized review. 

“How Do We Streamline Communications for Investors?”

Frequently, firms within the private capital markets use Excel spreadsheets to manage contact information and data for investor capital calls notices, K1s and PPMs.  

VP of Products, Jeff Williams had first-hand experience from his early career as an associate at a fund-of-funds on the pain points firms experience. “It would take me days, if not weeks, to get our capital call notices sent out. The painstaking process of double, if not triple checking, every detail on notices would leave me and our team with smoke coming from our ears.”

Altvia’s Correspond – Investor Edition version 2.0 was released this month and announced at THRIVE 2020. The latest Correspond tool helps firms in three main areas:

  • Send Investor Specific Documents
  • Reduce steps to gather recipient contact information
  • Track Email Delivery 

Send Investor Specific Documents

Each firm has its own specific template or file generated from its fund administration tool to send to investors. Then someone from the firm to confirm the generated file and compare it to the communication preferences saved in their CRM. Correspond easily allows our clients to upload a template and leverage their AIM database to generate those communications automatically and without error.  

Reduce Steps to Gather Recipient Contact Information

Firms can have subgroups within a single fund that need to receive an email or document that the entire list of investors does not need to receive due to a side-letter agreement. For clients with Correspond, users can generate a report to easily identify and segment their fund investors.

Track Email Delivery 

Rolling out in the relaunch of Correspond – Investor Edition is a new delivery report. Previously, once a batch was sent, users didn’t have a centralized location to view all of the stats around the send. 

The new intuitive delivery report includes charts and filtering that make it easy for the user to view which recipients have seen the shared documents in both ShareSecure and opened emails. Firms have more transparency and can expect those “I never received that email” calls to disappear. 

If you’re interested in viewing a demo of the latest Correspond, send us an email at info@altvia.com.

“How Do We Ease The Frequent Requests From Our LP’s?”

Investors demand metrics around the deployment of their capital investments. This increased level of transparency means it’s no surprise that firms seek an easy way to collect, consume, and share data on funds, portfolio companies, and business opportunities with internal and external stakeholders. 

pe crm sectors with highest investment activity

We developed Answers to bring data together from several different sources into one place. By consolidating the information and creating persistent data connections, firms reduce the time it would take for someone to calculate it manually, the concern of human error, and the instant staleness that occurs in spreadsheets.

The beauty of Answers is it allows investors to access the data in real-time, or for someone to get back to them after they’ve crunched the numbers. 

Between how the system creates a single source of truth, provides clean and visual reporting, and offers on-demand access for investors, this product has been integral to driving that transparency and trust that investors desire.

What’s Next?

Whether you were hoping to attend THRIVE 2020 and couldn’t, or you weren’t sure what it was, I hope you get re-energized to take on your firm’s 2020 goals with some of the ideas shared. 

We look forward to seeing everyone next year at THRIVE!

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.