Keys to success: Systems and personal service

Jul 20, 2014 @ 12:01 am

By Liz Skinner

Two important steps helped Robert Rinvelt and Roger David turn their firm into a lean, mean financial planning machine.

The first was to begin working with Ron Carson's PEAK Advisor Alliance in 2005 to help Rinvelt & David systematize its pro-cesses. The firm now has agendas in place for every meeting and templates that everyone there uses.

Should a call come in from a client who wants to bring a prospect over to learn more about the firm, customized materials can be ready in 10 minutes and everyone is prepared, Mr. Rinvelt said.

The second action was to outsource all of Rinvelt & David's technology two years ago. Before that, the firm had a part-time professional it used for technology advice, but Mr. David said he ended up spending far too much of his time on the phone with that person instead of communicating with clients.

Now a technology firm handles everything from encryption and hardware monitoring to data and communication backups needed for compliance, Mr. Rinvelt said.

The firm proactively checks out its systems — as opposed to the old days, when the advisers addressed technology only when it wasn't operating properly.

“We focus on what we do best and make sure all non-core services and products are done by someone else,” Mr. Rinvelt said. “Systemizing our processes across the board really helps by not having us fumble around and waste time.”

These moves no doubt helped Rinvelt & David achieve the high profit margin and earnings that led InvestmentNews to recognize the firm with a 2013 Best Practices award as a top performer for human capital management.

The firm keeps its expenses down with a small, hardworking staff that is well managed and functions effectively as a team.

Mr. Rinvelt founded the Grand Rapids, Mich., practice in 1988, and Mr. David joined in 1995. Today, the firm manages about $257 million in assets with 90% of revenue recurring, according to Mr. Rinvelt, who is 57. Mr. David is 46.

Rinvelt & David also outsources investment management, using five money managers, four of whom have some discretion to move among investments “to protect client funds when the market heads in the wrong direction,” Mr. Rinvelt said.

The outsourcing lets the firm's two advisers, Mr. Rinvelt and Mr. David, spend most of their time developing and monitoring comprehensive financial plans for clients.

The advisory firm manages an average of about $628,000 for clients, most of whom come to the firm when they are close to or at retirement age and are looking for “protection from a market free fall.”

The efforts to systematize Rinvelt & David's processes included an expanded use of its customer relationship management system.

“Every call is logged in, and notes are carefully taken,” Mr. Rinvelt said. “We really use the capacity within our CRM better than most.”

For instance, he added, shortly before clients are scheduled to walk into Rinvelt & David's offices, a quick CRM search will reveal details such as, “She likes caffeine-free Diet Pepsi, and he likes dark chocolate.”

Both of those preferred items will be waiting when the clients arrive, Mr. Rinvelt said.

lskinner@investmentnews.com Twitter: @skinnerliz

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