RIAs have been the fastest growing segment of business over the past two years at data aggregator Private Client Resources, CEO Robert Fiore says. Last year the assets that the Wilton, Conn.-based firm tracked grew more than threefold, to $63 billion by year’s end, he says, and they’re on track to reach $95 billion by the end of 2012.
Part of what helped the growth was a decision to focus on the service needs of PCR’s clients, rather than just on product improvement, Fiore says. It’s an important distinction in a tech industry that likes its bells and whistles.
“We didn’t invest a lot of time understanding our clients’ business. We were more about, ‘Let’s keep adding features and functions,’ as you would with any software package, and sell that to our clients,” Fiore said in a recent interview.
That started to change about two and a half years ago. In working more closely with its clients, PCR found that they were integrating the firm’s systems with their own internal systems. Many advisors were still using Excel spreadsheets (Fiore likes to say that PCR’s biggest competitor is the status quo, since many independent advisors are comfortable with the systems they’ve created); it gave PCR the idea to develop a platform that dovetailed with their tastes.
Palette Platform, which was launched last summer, included the ability to manage data in a way similar to Excel’s pivot table. For example, it could quickly break down portfolio values as defined by asset classes or even those portions of the portfolio that were managed by different advisors (many investors use more than one, of course.)
By the way, breaking down portfolio values by advisor happens to be a good way for an RIA to make the case that they deserve more of the client’s assets than the RIA’s competitors, if the RIA can show he’s doing a better job with growing his share of the client’s total portfolio, Fiore says.
“The advisor is looking to earn more trust and more assets to manage. ‘Work with me, I can provide you the best service. You’ll see it,’” Fiore says.