4Pines Fund Services’ CRO Michael Gull recently nailed why 45-page fund subscription documents and manual data-entry are still tolerated at more funds than an outsider would imagine.
“It’s just being able to be nimble and smart enough to implement the right automation that fits the right need,” said Gull.
Michael explained it’s not that funds aren’t packed with the smartest people. Private capital professionals are in fact incredibly nimble in so much of what they do.
Rather in order for these high performers to focus their smarts and agility where it can make the highest return, they need a specialist. They need a specialist who is nimble and smart enough to get the seemingly trivial but crucial details right. They need an implementation expert who knows how to listen and implicitly understand how each private capital situation works, preferably through direct knowledge.
Michael said that takes specialists who take the time to listen and see private capital professionals’ true needs. A partner who can knock out things like sub doc automation that should have been done a long time ago can bring top performers to a new level.
That’s how to kill inefficiencies that have been tolerated for too long as necessary evils.
Michael was speaking to Harmonate CEO, Kevin Walkup, about the art of automating sub docs, and listening to clients.
Asked to provide some insights from his 20 years on Wall Street, Gull’s first pearl of wisdom was a simple directive that applies to anyone not only in business but in family, friendships and any other meaningful relationship: listen.
But that’s also the key to 4Pines automating the sub doc process for better quality, speed and LP experience. Getting the details of sub doc automation right and showing how thoughtful automation can unlock value for private capital requires asking exactly the right questions.
Kevin accurately described 4Pines’ strategic services as “by CFOs for CFOs.” That capacity for detail in fund services delivers tailored counsel, service, data operations and workflows that surpass inefficient manual processes that, while becoming less common today, continue to be a drag on the elite – think errors hiding and reproducing in spreadsheets.
People mindset leads to data mindset
A robust data operations platform, if it’s tailored to the real world, directly fulfills an individual CFO and ultimately the fund manager’s needs with less friction, and freeing up time and precious resources that can be redirected to the highest value tasks.
Knowing what a fund administrator needs requires making a relationship easier, however, not hard selling the highest margin items on the menu. Gull described the process: “listening, paying attention to what they’re going through at this time in their business and then bridging the gap between what we can offer them and what they are looking to have solved,” he said.
Bringing data to people, not forcing people to data works.
Persuasion turns to paths of least resistance
The arguments in favor of automation are persuasive, enough private capital investment theses are built on them. And private capital professionals need less persuading, and rather easier paths to implementation. Despite investing in companies that can be transformed by better operations, many fund managers, investors and others are still wet signing contracts, scanning paper copies and emailing them back and forth, said Gull.
4Pines has identified a need for making the automating process smarter, simpler, eliminate errors, expedite compliance and due diligence, enhance security, instill predictability and aid forecasting.
On the front end, with the 4Pines process, LPs receive their documents properly and can’t go wrong filling out the fields. On the back end, the data becomes a tool GPs can put to better work for LPs.
4Pines has also realized the importance of focusing on a transparent user interface and dashboards with the express purpose of allowing 4Pines partners to see, along with the 4Pines team, the status of projects and key tasks. 4Pines doesn’t have a vendor-service provider relationship with its partners, said Gull. It’s value-driven collaboration, and high-touch teamwork on where high-touch is needed, rather than where it distracts.
Some fund administrators might frankly have trouble changing their culture and technology stack to get there. But Gull and 4Pines listened carefully to their partners. They’ve been there themselves. And that’s why they’ve decided to structure themselves to deliver where others can’t.