Private Equity Administrators are all equal, it’s just that some private equity administrators are more equal than others

Looking back over the last six months, PEA has launched its new website, established their brand and set up a sister company, Private Equity Depositaries, to provide depositary services! Not only that, PEA has implemented product development strategies for the enhancement of their client portal, considered AIFMD and FATCA reporting, established innovation panels, worked with the industry leading technology platform, ICSA’s Blueprint, to establish sophisticated reporting for their clients’ regulatory needs, brought expansive commercial compliance experience to the Board, and still there was time to take the clients and their service teams out on a boat trip to admire the islands one sunny Saturday morning.

Saturday morning I hear you say….

PEA are very passionate about the business of people and the one thing that frustrates them more than anything is the damaging stories they hear affecting their industry, relating to poor client service. Now you don’t need to be whizzing about on a RIB to make your clients smile, but you do need to be honest, accountable, display integrity, knowledge and above all else communicate with your clients, regularly.

It’s a relationships game and long term relationships matter. If we think about the other long term relationships in our lives we are committed to giving them the due care, attention and support they need to flourish. If however your carefully chosen administration firm is experiencing any of the following, your promised levels of client service which were so enthusiastically delivered to you at your initial due diligence presentation, has the potential to significantly diminish over time:

  • High staff turnover – results in lack of continuity where the nuances to your fund and relationships are lost.
  • Loss of key senior relationship managers – we have all experienced staff redundancies, but is the impact to their P&L less than the impact on your client satisfaction levels?
  • Does your current provider have an exit strategy over the next 5 years – are you part of it and do they want to keep you?
  • Are they taking on more new business than the organisation has the capacity to absorb – will the team sink under the pressure of new launches leaving you with unanswered emails?
  • Has your administration firm decided to streamline your administration process by outsourcing, offshoring, right shoring or canning certain services completely (such as the provision of directorship services)?
  • If you added up the directly applicable years of experience in your day to day service team would this amount to more than 10 years?
  • Have any of your service team worked directly for Private Equity Asset Managers?
  • Does your relationship manager really understand the nuts and bolts to your fund and how you might build a strategic partnership in the future?
  • Is your Service Level Document and its Key Performance Indicators purely quantitative or are there sufficient enough qualitative measures in place to measure service delivery.

So how can firms improve their client experience…?

Too many companies ask clients to rate their performance on a predetermined list of factors. Do you know better than your clients exactly what issues they face and how they would describe them? Do you provide your clients with the opportunity to share their feedback in their own words?

If your client has gone out of their way to share feedback, acting upon their recommendations is essential to building lasting customer relationships, uncover procedural problems, issues with project management, or other organisational failures that require cross-functional collaboration.

An organisation should listen to its clients by incorporating client feedback into daily operations. Closed-loop feedback makes it easier to learn from experience. Deliver the feedback directly to the teams who need to hear it. Focus your company’s client listening efforts not on measuring more precisely, but on learning and listening more effectively.

Use the following methods to gather feedback from your clients:

  • Surveys
  • Focus Groups
  • Observation
  • Point of Sale
  • Customer Service
  • Social Media
  • Communities and Groups
  • Email and Web Forms

Speak with your clients and ask them the hard questions, importantly get someone else to do it for you to remain independent and impartial.

Create a client-focused culture within your organisation. Share the positive client feedback openly within your organisation.

Patience is key to giving your clients the time to air out their issue. In turn this creates the opportunity for you to help resolve the issue and make them comfortable. The more comfortable the client is, the more likely they’ll share valuable feedback that can help prevent similar issues from occurring again in the future.

Do everything in your power to provide excellent service to your clients on an ongoing basis. Respond quickly and enthusiastically.

It takes 12 positive service experiences to make up for 1 negative experience. This is how sensitive trust is between an administration firm and its clients. No matter your size, keep your clients in the know when it comes to positive and negative changes to your products and services that affect them.

Follow up on your promises, manage the expectations of your clients to ensure realistic goals are set and can be met. By remaining consistent in your messaging, your clients will learn what they should expect from you in the future.

Craft every thank you sent out from your company to be specific to the client, relevancy is key. Be as appreciative as possible to your customers for taking the time to go through the process of resolving their issue. Finally, manners cost nothing, follow up with a good old fashioned “Thank you.”

While we love to share our client satisfaction experiences with you, we feel Walt Disney said it best,

“Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.”

If you would like to experience the kind of client service you will want to tell your friends about, feel free to call James in Guernsey or Peter in Denmark:

James Orrick / +44 1481 730988 /

Peter Toyberg / +45 70 20 40 61 /

Further reading:

Brian Honigman

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