Above and Beyond – First Rate’s Superior Support Model
One of my favorite aspects of serving in my role as General Manager in Service Bureau is the time I get to spend with clients and prospects in their offices. I learn the most about the firms we are serving and the firms we hope to serve one day when I’m onsite. During these trips, one of the most common questions I hear–in one form or another–is something along the lines of: “So, what exactly are you going to do for us?” There isn’t a standard response to this question, since the Service Bureau offering can vary a great deal from one client to the next. While the relationship between our team and yours could look quite a bit different from other firms, there are a few foundational bedrocks that you can count on as a customer when you’ve hired our team.
First, you will be served by a group that has a great deal of experience in the performance measurement industry. Our team has over 150 years of experience in performance, and our team has well over 100 years of combined experience using the First Rate platform. Many of our analysts have over 10 years of experience using our product suite.
Second, much of our growth over the last several years has come through our channel partner relationships. We integrate their various accounting platforms such as Charlotte, AddVantage, and Global Plus, and an integration with Phase 3 is planned in 2018. Our clients benefit a great deal from these mature integrations, because it can take a few processing cycles to work out some of the nuances of a new data feed. With these channel partners, we get the benefit of a mature data feed right from the start of the relationship. This also gives us a high degree of familiarity with how a particular accounting engine may process corporate actions or other unique transactions.
Our teams are focused on analyzing data and preparing it for client reporting. Some of our clients leverage First Rate reporting tools like Core and ExecView, while others will integrate First Rate performance data in other reporting services. Either way, clients expect performance data to be clean. We have refined our auditing process over the years and each account has been reviewed to confirm that the following statements are true:
- Shares are in balance from one month to the next.
- Cash is in balance from one month to the next.
- Returns have been compared to a reasonable benchmark and are within a reasonable tolerance band.
- The account was scanned for transactions with shares but no principal value.
Our checklists are evergreen documents. We are constantly updating them with new checks to perform as we uncover additional data conditions.
We value relationships with our clients. This is demonstrated in many different ways in our support model. First, all of our clients have a client-specific email address to use when engaging the team on a new support request. We commit to responding to each service ticket within 24 hours to acknowledge that we have received the request. Each client is also assigned a primary analyst, and this is the main point of contact when issues arise. When practical, we visit our clients onsite in their offices one or more times during each year. During these visits, we typically review our recent support items and share metrics around most frequently run reports. This is also a valuable opportunity for us to share information regarding additional capabilities that First Rate has developed and how these can meet specific needs. Often, these relationship visits include a meal as well. We value the time we get to spend face-to-face with our clients, whether it’s in their conference room or at a local restaurant.
Finally, another key component of our offering is that we represent you, the client, when interacting with our products team regarding change requests and future product roadmap items. If several clients are asking for similar items, then those items are more likely to be prioritized higher in the release queue.
Rob Bethmann joined First Rate as the firm’s 10th employee in 1998. He has served in multiple business units in the company and currently serves as a Director and General Manager in First Rate’s Service Bureau. In this role Bethmann manages a staff of analysts and focuses on the delivery of our outsourced offering as well as growing the business in the future.