When Joel Shaps bought Bedrock Capital Management Inc. 13 years ago, the advisory firm's technological sophistication could only be improved. Bedrock had virtually no software products or systems, he said.
Since then, Mr. Shaps, the firm's president and chief executive, introduced a client relationship management system, automated portfolio rebalancing, moved to a mostly cloud-based and paperless office and, most recently, created a website with interactive tools for clients.
Making careful choices and recognizing “there's no one, perfect solution” for the industry's technology quandaries, Bedrock's tech advances helped the firm build client assets from $40 million in 2001 to about $300 million today.
“We built the processes from the ground up,” Mr. Shaps said. “Sometimes we were on the leading edge of technology, and sometimes we were on the bleeding edge.”
Bedrock's exceptional integration of technology to create efficiencies at the firm and facilitate asset growth helped the firm win an InvestmentNews Best Practices Award as a top performer in technology last year.
The 2013 InvestmentNews Adviser Technology Study of 317 advisory firms found that top performers spent dramatically more than their counterparts on software, hardware and technology consulting.
The Los Altos, Calif.-based firm outsources technology so its five advisers can focus on asset management and wealth planning, Mr. Shaps said.
Part of the challenge of being a technology leader is keeping track of the rapid pace of change.
“Technology is dynamic — you can't ever sit still because it's always evolving,” he said. “You have to stay on top of it and be receptive to trying the latest and greatest, or at least be aware of it.”
The firm's use of a CRM system has been the most critical piece of its efficient processes, according to Mr. Shaps. The CRM system is essential for collaborating and sharing client information among advisers.
“The ability to track client contacts, issues, tasks and monitor all the workflow has been dramatic,” Mr. Shaps said.
Bedrock redesign- ed its website last year to create a stronger brand and to provide interactive tools for clients, such as one for Social Security strategies. The response to the changes from clients has been positive and the firm already has attracted new clients with it. The website provides more information about the firm's fees and the people who make up Bedrock. It's also easier to connect with the firm through contact links on every page, he said.
“It's becoming a reliable business development opportunity for us,” Mr. Shaps said.
Introducing a portfolio rebalancing system a few years ago also was a giant time saver. Previously, portfolio rebalancing involved “a robust spreadsheet” and required a week or two out of each quarter. “Now we do it in a morning,” he said.
HEADED INTO THE CLOUD
Moving Bedrock's systems to the cloud has been another of Mr. Shaps' goals, and he's well on his way to adopting this more efficient method of computing.
The firm is about 85% there and it's currently working to move the final system, the CRM, over to the cloud, he said.