In a post Lehman world, family offices, high net worth individuals and institutions are increasingly demanding a more personalised service from their advisors. Specialist firms offer such personalised services, but the challenge is to execute at scale. This was the challenge facing VCP Advisors, an independent advisory firm with offices in London, New York and Beijing.
VCP Advisors provides corporate finance and capital-raising advice to a number of companies and funds. Their success can be attributed to the philosophy of the founders – “to find clients that meet the investment preferences of our select network of investors”. Just as investor insight dictates the client selection process, so clients dictate the advisory services offered.
The constant need to record and update client and investor needs meant that in May 2012 the team wanted to better maintain a detailed understanding of every client’s goals.
“Long term relationships are at the heart of our business.”
Managing partner Henry Talbot-Ponsonby explains. “Long term relationships are at the heart of our business. Our success is the result of virtuous partnership predicated on trust and understanding. Our investors trust us to present relevant opportunities to them, and our clients trust us to secure the right investors.”
To some this may appear to be a simple CRM requirement. Maintaining details of client preferences and interactions is bread and butter for modern CRM software. So what makes the VCP Advisors requirement so special?
For VCP Advisors the CRM data had to become a part of what they were able to offer their clients. By understanding investor preferences they can help clients target and manage capital raising activities. VCP’s understanding of investor preferences needed to become a client deliverable. What’s more, capital-raising is a process that is controlled and regulated. This means that the CRM system needs to manage that process and provide client reports at the touch of a button.
So when VCP Advisors approached the market they were looking not just for software but also a CRM partner with experience of similar complex systems. Also, they were looking for a solution that would implement quickly without significant capital expenditure.
Their initial research identified Maximizer CRM software as a potential product. Through the Maximizer Business Partner network they were introduced to Collier Pickard, an independent CRM consultancy with previous experience in the Private Equity sector. When this experience was combined with Maximizer software, all of the boxes were ticked.
Whilst in the past the capex implications of CRM implementation might have stalled the project, Maximizer CRM Anywhere meant that VCP could turn on their system in a matter of hours. The system was securely hosted for them, meaning that the initial development took place in the same week as VCP Advisors moved to new and bigger offices.
With the database available through a web browser, the Collier Pickard team were able to develop a database structure and import the legacy data. Maximizer’s ease of configuration and SaaS delivery meant that all of the systems build could be completed without IT involvement.
In less than a week VCP had a system that allowed them to quickly build target lists based on investor preferences. The investor profiles were simple to maintain, and the team at VCP Advisors took time to further refine the profiles and update information. This was the first level of CRM maturity, a concept introduced by Collier Pickard to ensure that the project was successful.
The fast implementation of the CRM system meant that the executives and relationship managers at VCP Advisors were able to build detailed and accurate profiles of their clients and investors. Whilst this work was being undertaken, system development continued.
Progressing through the CRM maturity levels brought the project team to the point where they needed the system to apply processes to the data. Unlike most CRM systems which will track individual opportunities for individual clients, VCP Advisors needed to track an opportunity across multiple investors for a single client. The process had to deliver reports for VCP and their clients. Those reports may need to be formatted differently for each client, but had to be produced quickly and easily.
The team at Collier Pickard had a solution, but it required changes to the way VCP accessed their system. Luckily, the Maximizer CRM Anywhere platform allows clients to move from a public cloud to a private cloud. Collier Pickard moved the system and added the required functionality over a weekend.
The new tools allow VCP Advisors to create lists of investors in Microsoft Excel and create multiple Maximizer opportunities with the correct process dates and stages from those Excel worksheets.
“Without our CRM system we would not be able to continue our growth at the current rate.”
The CRM system at VCP Advisors continues to change in line with the changing markets in which VCP operate. As with all good CRM systems, it is never finished. The Maximizer software allows VCP to make most of the changes themselves without needing expensive IT developers. When the requirement is beyond their capabilities, then Collier Pickard are on hand to develop and enhance the ‘out of the box’ functionality.
The final word should go to managing partner Henry Talbot-Ponsonby:
“Our client relationship management system is an essential tool to provide our clients with up to the second information on our execution of their capital-raising mandates. We have invested heavily in its implementation and ongoing use because client relationships are at the centre of everything we do. Without our CRM system we would not be able to continue our growth at the current rate. Relationships should be built on trust. Our clients trust us to provide advice in a highly specialised market. We, in turn, trust Collier Pickard to provide advice and guidance on CRM best practice. ”