Digitizing your Business with Ryan George of Docupace
Looking for ways to simplify your business processes? Join us today as we chat with Ryan George, Chief Marketing Officer at Docupace. As an expert in digitizing businesses, Ryan will be sharing valuable insights on how Docupace integrates with various companies and offers streamlined financial services. He’ll also be discussing his predictions for upcoming trends in 2023. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to learn how Docupace can help you streamline your operations. Tune in now!
Payments & Fintech Insights In This Episode
- Shifting from paper-based to digital work
- Why businesses should integrate with other companies rather than creating their own in-house solution
- The services Docupace offers and why Docupace stands out in the market
- How digitizing makes everything that much easier
- AI in fintech and how to take the right advantage of it
- Trends Ryan forecasts for 2023
Ryan George : Docupace
Docupace is a technology company built for the financial services and wealth management industry. For over 20 years, They’ve dedicated their resources to solving the most frustrating and time-consuming problems that advisors, broker-dealers, and RIAs face on a daily basis. Their team is built from a diverse set of talents: software developers, technology leaders, compliance and security specialists, mathematicians, management experts, financial professionals, client services geniuses—they all come together to make them the leading universal workflow and document management automation software choice for financial service and wealth management firms and their advisors everywhere.
Featured on the Show
PayPod is the leading voice in the payments and fintech industry, covering payments, risk management and new technology. Host Jacob Hollabaugh interviews leaders who are shaping the payments and fintech world, as they discuss the latest developments in the payments and fintech industry.
Jacob: Welcome to PayPod, the Payments Industry podcast. Each week, we’ll bring you in-depth conversations with leaders who are shaping the payments and fintech world from payment processing to risk management and from new technology to entirely new payment types. If you want to know what’s happening in the world of fintech and payments, you’re in the right place. Hello everyone. Welcome to PayPod. I’m your host, Jacob Hollabaugh, and today on the show we will be diving into the topic of digitizing your operations, specifically with the focus on the wealth management industry. If you’re anything like I was just in researching for this discussion and this company and who we’re going to be talking with, you may come away with some questions to ask your own financial advisors or planners to make sure they’re working as efficiently as they can be. I know I did. Joining me to explore this topic is Ryan George, chief marketing officer at Docupace, a technology company built for the wealth management industry. Having been on a mission to eliminate paperwork since 2002. Ryan, welcome to the show. Thank you so much for being here.
Ryan: Thank you so much for having me. I love engaging with people like yourself who know about the business and excite about the business and are trying to push us forward.
Jacob: Yeah, well, we can’t thank you enough for being here and we appreciate those who can bring the energy like yourself about these topics in space, because obviously myself and the listeners are eager to learn as much as we can. Let’s kick things off with just kind of high level overview of Docupace. What are the products and services you’re providing and to whom are those offerings focused on?
Ryan: Sure. So the Docupace platform is a back office system. We have historically worked in the independent space, mostly in the broker dealer and insurance space to provide account opening account maintenance, workflow, document storage compliance like right now, and form delivery through a digital main. So basically it’s taking all the stuff that you used to see in paper file boxes and sort of handed from one person or mailed from another person to another. We’ve tried to digitize that as best as possible. And in doing so, it also creates sort of these networks of processes within the business so that everybody gets aligned. So if a new person comes in or somebody comes out, you can train people faster, You’re able to just work better because you’ve centralized the processes of how things get from point B to point open. And I think that that’s important.
Jacob: Yeah. And what are your customer segments that you’re working with? Who are the different parts of the industry that you’re working with the most?
Ryan: Our users are often in two camps. Those in the field that are either like a sales assistant, wealth management assistant or an advisor or somebody in the home or centralized office that the field people send them the business, they process it and send it to the custodian. So those are the users we serve. However, those come in different channels. So we have independent broker dealer spaces, our primary channel, we have a handful of custodians where we are their opening account system, like RBC Wealth Management up in Minnesota. We also have been expanding into the RHL quite heavily as we release the new product specifically designed for the RHL back in December last year.
Jacob: Makes sense. And one specific channel I’d like to ask about, there was reading a 2021 report from McKinsey that found RIAs to be the fastest growing channel within wealth management As far as new ones opening, I think it was 900 and some RIAs founded in that year 2021 brought the total number up to almost 15,000 registered with the SEC. Both new records, both repeatedly being set, new records year after year. Do you see that trend continuing and therefore, RIA specifically to be a target audience for Docupace moving forward?
Ryan: Yes, I mean, I can say confidently that IRS is probably represent one of our largest opportunities for growth into a vertical of any other space within wealth management, primarily for what you just described. Not only is the business growing from saying new RIAs entering the market, but there’s over 20,000 that are small RIAs that are solo or two person practitioners that are aging or two things aging and ready to sell their business or ready to grow their business. And so what’s happening is they’re merging together and growing larger enterprises. That’s where our software comes in. And I think that’s one of the reasons that’s such a strong, growing market is they’re really maturing to where RIAs are sort of this vast pool of all different sort of single IRAs and now you’re sort of not only the rollups, but even some smaller areas that are starting to behave more like a larger enterprise. And they cover a state or cover a couple of states.
Jacob: Yeah. And definitely then the larger they get, the more the efficiencies are going to be needed. To give us an idea of exactly what your solutions are helping with for our RIA specifically, what would be key metrics for them that your suite of products are attempting to help them improve upon? Sure.
Ryan: So the biggest one I think that has historically been known for is what they call NIGOs, which is a not in good order. The easiest way I describe it, it’s rejection. So it’s a rejection for paperwork, gets submitted, it gets kicked out of the system because it’s either not complete, it’s incorrect, missing information, that sort of thing. That’s one of them. Also, the time it takes to open an account is one of the things that we would be able to work with. And also how many accounts can you open? Right? So if you have one assistant in your business and they have historically opened like, say, two accounts a week, but now they can open ten accounts a week because they have the processing means to do so. On the other side, the take. The compliance side of our business. How many times are we delivering a form ADV and having a client attest that they received it, doing it electronically? You know, that’s saving towards a $2 versus a mailing every time they do so.
Jacob: Makes sense. And one thing I kind of find interesting about the space you’re working is that it’s one thing for tools to be available. It’s another thing for them to actually be adopted and used correctly. And there’s a bunch of industry surveys. I saw that show kind of wealth managers, RIAs, everyone in the industry know the importance of the technological tools, yet do find difficulty implementing them Either that adoption is too difficult historically they’re confused by them or just they plain decide not to use them regardless of knowing the importance. Why do you think that adoption rate for tech solutions has been so low historically in this space? And do you think it’s your solutions or others like it that are going to be able to help increase that adoption rate?
Ryan: So I agree with you. However, I don’t know if it’s unique to technology. So I think if there were some other business or some other industry where it was, you know, what’s the adoption of new things? Like how many people are new things? You probably would get similar data, right? Because humans were just not the best at saying, I’m just going to be different today than I was yesterday and do that over again. However, I do think there’s some specific things with technology and financial technology that can be challenging. One is the business is a little bit aged, so the people who are in this business have been doing it quite a long time. Yeah, when you do something a long time, it’s the habits get more ingrained and it’s harder to break them. So I think that’s one thing. The other thing too, is there’s two types of solutions that I think exist broadly in the marketplace. The first is a selective tool that can be used ad hoc as needed. It’s not a primary piece in the wheel of how an advisor serves their client. Docupace is more of the you have to process this. You have to go through this portal, you have to do it this way. And it’s quote unquote mandated technology use for the business. Those tend to be higher adoption because they’re forced to do so. On the ad hoc side, I think there’s a lot of challenges there because if you don’t start using it and build it into your practices early, eventually you’re just going to stop wanting to pay the subscription fee and you’ll kick out.
Jacob: Yeah. Are you Docupace competing more with other SaaS companies or are a lot of people in the financial services industry attempting to build in-house tools? Where’s the competition come both historically and maybe right now, today?
Ryan: Yeah, it’s all the above. I think historically we have sort of taken out a lot of homegrown technology. So as Docupace is celebrating its 21st year, I think throughout the late aughts, in the 2000 tens, almost every time we went into that business, we were replacing something that had been homegrown and had gotten to a point where it was too poor, too difficult to manage, too expensive to manage, like that tech debt had just gone because that’s what people learned was not only do you develop the software, you have to continuously develop the software in order for it to work perfectly. So that still exists today. And what’s funny about that is it all comes around circle because now we hear that a lot of people are they’re going to choose to build it themselves. So it’s like the same mistakes that were made 20 years ago are being remade again. That’s the way the world works, however. So we also are replacing some other technologies. There’s some competitor technologies that maybe have parts of our solution that they were choosing as to sort of consolidate vendors. It’s sort of have a more centralized approach and partner who they go through. And that’s been beneficial. Also the sort of that the size of space. We are a sound company, $40 million in revenue. We’re a little bit more of a I don’t want to say secure because that’s like a security thing. But we’re a partner that’s going to be around for and we’re a partner that has a history. And I think that that gives people a little bit of security.
Jacob: Yeah, you can feel safe outsourcing it, knowing that this isn’t going to be something we have to replace in eight months if this company isn’t around to continue doing that service that we tried to get off our hands.
Ryan: So it’s mostly SaaS ish. I think that’s how I’d describe it.
Jacob: Makes sense. Integration appears to be the name of the game for a lot of your products. For instance, bridging the integration gap with a CRM that is already in use by an individual organization so that they’re not having to input the same data to different places, but instead the tools are working in sync with each other. Can you speak to the importance of the integration ability of your product with other third party apps that your clients and users would also be using?
Ryan: Sure. I mean, I’ll preface this by saying integrations is not something the industry has done well. There’s not a widespread industry standard for what a good integration is and what’s required. That’s a sad thing. We can talk about that a different day.
Jacob: That’s within like broader fintech or in specifically like within financial services, wealth management.
Ryan: I think just broader fintech and maybe even in general, people tend to design and build and code technologies to be in isolation, not necessarily be built to work well with others. And I think that’s changing. And I think that is something that you’re seeing companies in areas that have been historically closed off systems, right? And now they’re looking and saying maybe I should open up my APIs and let people develop into our platform because I don’t have to build that myself. They have a solution that can do it. I think people are getting wiser to that fact and knowing exactly what they are. So on an integration side, we have tried to look look for ways. We can add value to our clients, add value to the integration partner and add value to our business. What we know and know about integrations is it doesn’t matter to the client when it breaks where who broke it, right? So if you’re connected with these two systems, it breaks. It breaks. So we have to be pretty critical as far as who we integrate with and what what their value set is, what they can do, because we’re in it together. And I think that that part has been it’s good We have over 35 integrated partners on our site that we work with because we can’t our business can’t doesn’t function without them. It’s a critical part of our business to be able to play nicely with others like the CRM.
Jacob: Yeah, absolutely. Which what type of integrations were maybe the biggest hurdles or wins that you had early on? Am I correct in thinking and having referenced like CRM or the popular CRMs as being kind of top of importance, or are there a different set that had the biggest impact, those early hurdles?
Ryan: Yeah, so early on, I think the CRM and financial planning software is like a E-money or money guide pro And then on the CRM side, so like Redtail I think was was a very early integration partner with Docupace. Now we integrate with Salesforce Financial Services, Cloud Wealth Box and many others. But Redtail is really early on. More recently, one of the integrations that we’re probably most proud of is our integration with Envestnet, which was an integration we announced last July, and that is allowing sort of it’s a managed account advisory account solution through an envestnet, through dark space that really creates that seamless experience that they hadn’t had within the advisory space. And what we’re most excited about is that’s the starting point of a sort of whole new pathway that we’re building within our two businesses. And I think that’s something that is exciting, Amazing.
Jacob: And two part follow up to that then. Are there any other key integrations that are on the to do list for you space to add in the future? And similarly, what happens if someone is using a third party tool that you don’t currently integrate with or they just out of luck? Or is there some process they can go through to still use your services?
Ryan: Yeah, so onto the second one first, because we already have so many in place, there’s sometimes can be workarounds depending on how they access them and the data is sharing back and forth. So for instance, if you’re a precisefp, which is a customer of ours, but we’re not integrated with the financial planning software, but they integrated with the CRM, you can take the data and precisefp suck it into your CRM and then spit it back out to that financial planning software. And the other two would never have to be connected. So that’s one way to work around. We also do things at the request of our clients. So if it’s an important integration that there’s value in and it’s critical to the client, we always can explore building that integration because then that becomes an integration throughout time. And I think that’s big. As far as new integrations, I think we are deepening on the horizon, deepening our integration capabilities for custodians with Fidelity and Pershing, which are the two largest custodians with our business. And I think allowing our customers to do more to easily within the custodial thing is huge for us and also looking at trying to think of other. That’s quite a few. I mean.
Jacob: That’s a bunch of examples. That’s awesome. And you referenced one of the companies I wanted to ask you about here, Dock space or Dock Space has used some key acquisitions in recent years to grow the business and its offerings. And I’d love to ask you about a couple of those. First. In May 2021, you acquired Giacomo, a premier Compliance data integration, financial reporting accounting system. What was the goal behind that acquisition? How did that enhance what you were already offering or add new product offerings into the fold?
Ryan: Sure. So the big picture standpoint, we went to look at the market and say, what are all the different needs that you have that to qualify in the back office? So to list those out and where do we have covered or where do we do well, and you check those boxes and then you look at, okay, what are the things that somebody who is a customer of ours would likely need that may be using somebody else today and identify those? And one of the things that was revealed was Giacomo. And so in conversations that we had, we were able to work to bring those businesses together. Giacomo does essentially a couple of things trade, surveillance, compensation. They have books and records overnight data scrubbing and all sorts of things that we didn’t really do much at Docupace. So that was the vision to bring them in to sort of almost a total back office solution. Businesses are different, so it’s hard to present yourself that way, but that does sort of what the vision is. They’ve been it’s been great for us. We love working with the new partners in New Jersey. We’re opening new office there and I think the technology is part of the acquisition, but really it’s the culture of the businesses that you’re acquiring. Are they alive? Because those people, we want them to stay around. So you can’t just think about the technology. You have to think about, well, how are these two groups of people work together?
Jacob: Yeah, you’re truly adding not just a new offering to the business, but you’re adding a full you’re adding another business on to your yours by growing it that way. So I’d love to hear that you’re thinking about all the people. Before we get to the other acquisition you’ve made that year, you kind of reference compliance a little there and earlier. And I wondered with that acquisition or just broadly across space, how compliance is handled, be it trading audience, regulatory paperwork, etcetera. You’ve got a lot of regulations to keep up with kind of across a lot of different markets. What’s the company approach on the compliance front?
Ryan: Yeah, so we look at we are probably one of the rare businesses within the whole financial services industry or wealth management space that sees regulatory change as a business opportunity. And the reason for that is while we are not regulated like a provider would be, those are our clients. So we have to align in the same way and be able to know what those rules are and be able to build products and solutions that can help them solve their problems. One of them being like the form CRS and the form of delivery. We know that with the rules that advisor has to deliver any time they make a change to their form ADV or their form CRS, they have to deliver to all their clients. So that’s going to get really expensive really fast. So we created a digital solution in order for them to do so through a digital way. And I think things like that and being nimble in understanding what are the trends that are happening in the regulatory space and how can we make sure that our clients or potential clients, we can make it as easy and efficient and as compliant as possible?
Jacob: Yeah, I love that approach. Looking at those changes are truly opportunities just to prove yourself yet again or to beat your competitors to. We’ve got a new thing that needs solved or a new variation of the thing we were previously solving. If we can solve it first, that’s an advantage.
Ryan: I can tell you from previous lives, working in the broker dealer space or in the asset management space, we get into these prioritization meetings and everybody would come, you know, every business had or business would come and have these things that they needed us to do or things that they’re very adamant about. And then compliance would come in and say, That’s funny, that’s cute. You guys don’t want to do that. But regulators require an X, Y and Z happening, and it would disrupt or prevent a lot of innovation and expansion and ideas just because there was things we had to do and things that we wanted to do. And I think if Docupace can make the have to do stuff easier and more effective, it actually can unlock a lot of stuff on the want to do side that could be important for our clients.
Jacob: Yeah, that’s amazing. I love it. The second acquisition then that you’d made in that same year, this time in September 21st was bringing in precisefp a data gathering company. What was broadly the goal behind that and how have the outcomes been thus far?
Ryan: Yes, so precisefp is a Wealth management Award winner and client data gathering. It really is a solution without a true peer in the marketplace. And it sounds very simple. So it’s our digital way to gather information from a client. And you think, oh, securely and easily, You think, Oh, that’s easy. Well, effectively it’s not. There’s so many points of information and points of data that are needed in order for an advisor to really serve their client, that when they’re bringing on a new client, the ability to get all that gather, all that information is difficult and then they have to maintain it, right? So think what precisefp does is really take the hours and hours of back and forth and work that’s needed in order to for a client to get all the paperwork to their advisor, have them enter it and have them do it manually, and then that once it’s in a data form, we can send that to. All sorts of different types of technology solutions because it’s in data, it’s digital. So you can send into your financial planning software, you can send it into your CRM or into documents or what other solution you want.
Jacob: And who are the partners you have to work with to gather the data. I’d imagine there’s some sort of authorization by the end client first. But then when it comes to the financial data, the background, are you working with financial institutions that house that client’s money or can you just speak a little to the collection process?
Ryan: Yeah. So it’s first party data. So it’s going to be given to the advisor by the client. And then so that’s really the basic use case. We’re not tying in, say like a big data public information source that would be useful as a marketing tool for an advisor trying to go into a space. But if they’re already ready to sign up right in that thing. Now there is solutions like tax status as one of them. Holistic plan is another one where they take all the sort of IRS information that they have. Those are great solutions. Those are useful solutions, but they do something a little bit different.
Jacob: Got it. And you might have just referenced the answer to the other follow up I had on the final thing on precisefp. There is I saw a lead generation component to it. And when I combine seeing that with the fact that just I personally when I hear data gathering, I immediately think the world of marketing in general is using this tech to move into the realm of marketing services to your same user base. Possible growth opportunity or something is considering or thinking about. Sure.
Ryan: I mean, John Whalen, who’s the founder of precisefp, has lots of great ideas, and that’s one of the things that having our businesses together and having them work together can unlock those ideas because of the resources behind, you know, that coming from a smaller company to a larger company, it opens doors that you didn’t necessarily have before. And I think any sort of digital engagement or client engagement tool that’s trusted by the client, trusted by the advisor, has all sorts of room to run in terms of where you can engage things to. We have actually just brought on a new person, Nora, who’s on my team, to focus specifically on developing and expanding the content and capabilities that are there and touching on exactly what you just did, which is, okay, we have this. How else can this same thing be applied to different practices?
Jacob: Yeah, part of it is I have a wife who runs an advertising agency, so it’s hard for me not to put a lot of things to that world. But just any time I see data gathering, I’m just like, it seems like the obvious opportunity here would then be What ways can your current users use this to bring in some new clients? Next thing I want to pivot to is data security. It’s truly one of the behind the scenes names of the game, both in our kind of core to make.
Ryan: Me have nightmares. What you want? You want me to have nightmares about data security? Is that what it is?
Jacob: Well, no, I don’t want anyone to. But we all do. Certainly. Especially like in our world of payments and certainly in the world you’re dealing with. Same thing here with both the financial planning industries. It’s a big deal. What tools are you offering on the data security front? How do you approach privacy security for your customers and your clients? Sure.
Ryan: So as a firm that works with large financial institutions and has a lot of data involved in our system, cyber security is absolutely critical for us. So we have a CSO on board. He takes all. I worked with him before. He’s great in experience and he takes all the measures that we have to have our server farms be protected, that we’re going through the annual audits and channels to make sure we’re following all the processes. But you know, as a communicator, it’s always a concern because you see people who clearly companies that have resources and take the best steps can still be attacked. That’s something that I think as a business and as an industry, we’re going to have to get reckoned with in terms of how do we only take the data That’s absolutely critical so that the data set is smaller for the clients, or what else would that be to help protect the data?
Jacob: Yeah, it’s definitely it can be thinking about those topics, like you said, kind of nightmare fuel to some degree as far as what could happen. But it just kind of proves the importance of making sure it’s top of mind and everything we do. Let’s move then to the last couple things here. A few trends in your industry and just broad broadly in culture right now. The first one, kind of the biggest trend of the year thus far, AI and machine learning, they’re kind of stand out as really having a moment in culture right now. Regardless of what industry you work in, is space using any tools of that nature or have plans to in the near future think that machine learning technologies are going to impact what you’re doing in a big way.
Ryan: So we have an active partnership with Jiffy.ai, which is another fintech company that squarely focuses on that and working on ways to bring that into our system. Where we want to really take best advantage of AI tools is not not in the same place that I think, or at least not in the same manner that maybe some other people do, because I think the challenge with AI is to change again, going back to change the behavior of the humans. But we want to do is keep the human contact point same as it was. They don’t have to change, but once it’s in the system, what can AI machine learning do to then improve that process after the fact? So like take it, call it a step two approach. Step one, it doesn’t have to change step two and beyond. It can be things can be different. And I think that is a little bit of a different approach because people are trying to apply apply in all different ways. They weren’t going to. We will fail, others will fail. But the good thing is we’re trying. We’re going to keep trying. And I think it’s such a new technology, we’ll figure it out. I mean, everybody is so obsessed with Chatgpt now. It’s like those marketing buzzwords where, like I remember Truvada was a big word once, Chipotle was, now it’s ChatGBT. You see it everywhere. Soon that will fade and then the will real work will begin.
Jacob: Yeah, absolutely. That iteration will be constant until we figure out where the most use and the most value is going to come from. What are any other big trends in the financial service industry that you’re trying to stay at the forefront of in 2023?
Ryan: Sure. I think the trend of disruption is here. Going back to the great financial crisis in 2008, 2009. Out of that starting in, I think March 16th of 2009, you’ve had this run up in the markets that’s been tremendous. There’s been low interest rates, relatively low volatility. Economies have been pretty much rip roaring. I think the road ahead maybe is not the same. I’m not going to say I have a crystal ball, but there is some things that on the forefront that could be challenging. I think in this business, all of us are going to have to figure out how to be better at our jobs, provide more value in an environment that is maybe a little bit less certain than we’ve had in the near history.
Jacob: Yeah, absolutely. Well, Ryan, this has been a lot of fun. Very informative For those listening who might want to learn more about space or might want to follow you in your journey, where would be the best place for them to go to do that?
Ryan: Sure, I hang on on LinkedIn a lot. That’s probably the best place to find me if you go to LinkedIn Backslash. Ryan George Or just look up Ryan George I work with Docupace. See Smiling Face. We can follow up more information on Docupace that docupace.com That is our website. We have way more information than you ever want to know, but hey, there’s lots of stuff to find out, so just take a visit. We’ve got some great blogging content, some great reports, and we also have a monthly newsletter. We don’t spam people, the monthly newsletter that’s just valuable content, not sales. That would be useful for the listeners as well.
Jacob: Yeah, wonderful. We will of course link to all those in the show notes. And I could say as someone who went through a lot of the blog posts and did sign up for that monthly newsletter, it’s all great information to have. So definitely listeners can use that as they see fit. Thanks so much for the time, Ryan. It’s been a blast. I hope to speak to you again sometime soon.
Ryan: Thank you.
Jacob: If you enjoyed this episode and want to hear more, head on over to Soarpay.com/podcast to subscribe on your podcast listening platform of choice. That’s s o a r p a y.com/podcast.