Susan Moffat is the president and co-founder of Curated Wealth Partners, a multi-family office delivering financial advice and financial well-being to a select group of high-net-worth families. Susan credits her ability to develop strong client relationships and her participation on competitive sports teams as keys to her career success. Susan, along with her husband, Janne Kouri, are founders of NextStep Fitness, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people with neurological impairments build strength and independence. You can learn more at nextstepfitness.org.
Mark Wickersham is VP of Strategy, Marketing, and Business Development at AgilLink.
This synopsis is of a podcast conversation between Mark Wickersham and Susan Moffat. Note that the conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
WHY OFFER BILL PAYMENT AS AN INTEGRATED SERVICE?
Curated started out with a plan to be different from other wealth management companies. According to Moffat, “Before we launched Curated, we thought about what matters to our clients, and what they were missing from the providers that they currently were using. Many providers do not offer integrated bill payment and business management services, which are traditionally separate and distinct from investment management. Families typically had to use third-party providers for bill pay. We believed that integrating those two disciplines together not only made the business a bit stickier for us from a client perspective, but also provided us with more information and data to provide back to the client to help make better decisions as it relates to their actual investment portfolio.”
Curated clients appreciate this level of integrated service because they trust Susan and her team. They already trust them with investing their assets, and having one point of contact offers convenience and security. They can make one call to get the answers they need, and then can use that information to make decisions. Says Moffat, “We are a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA), and are registered by the SCC. We are audited annually, so this gives the client additional peace of mind, since we have custody of the assets used for bill pay.”
IS IT DIFFICULT TO INTEGRATE BILL PAY WITH DATA SOURCED FROM OTHER PROVIDERS?
While it may seem simple to add another service like bill pay, the historical aspect of legacy accounts needs to be considered. Moffat explains, “Initially, when we take on bill payment for a family, we must be quick in cleaning up any messy chart of accounts provided by the previous accountant. Then we must get the books and records into the right format and the data in the right place. All of this takes a considerable amount of effort to straighten out.”
Problems can appear when you dig into the financials and some element of forensic accounting is needed. According to Moffat, “An area of concern happens when we are looking at older financial statements, and find something that does not make sense. As you dig in, you realize someone plugged in a number, and did not go back and do the proper work to correct the situation. Some of these errors can be attributed to turnover, and we pride ourselves on our teamwork and the fact that the Curated partners have comprehensive oversight of the business, so we must go back into the records and fix the error.”
WHAT THINGS SHOULD A WEALTH MANAGEMENT FIRM CONSIDER WHEN IT COMES TO OFFERING BILL PAYMENT AND CLIENT ACCOUNTING SERVICES?
Staffing your firm with people with the right skill set is paramount to serving clients’ needs, and technology also plays a critical role. Moffat states, “I think first and foremost you must commit to not taking any shortcuts. You must staff and resource appropriately if you are going to take on these roles and responsibilities for your families. (Hire an expert if any of this is not your core competency.) Second, you really must be willing to invest to build out the right tech stack and put into place the policies and procedures needed to support your efforts. Some people would say that firms are doing this for their own protection, but at Curated, we are doing this to protect our families and give them peace of mind.”
It’s critical to have the right technology platforms in place to run a firm like Curated Wealth Partners successfully. But technology has to be measured by the benefits it gives to both the advisor and the customer. “Technology is integral to what we do, from our reporting software, to AgilLink and the integration with Addepar and InvestLink. We invest in technology, and I have to say that while it is a substantial investment, it really helps us scale and save man hours,” says Moffat.
Discussing data security, Moffat says, “AgilLink offers us several advantages — the first of which is security. Security of the data, information, and the money movement inside the software. The second thing that AgilLink enables us to do is standardize processes so people can be trained and can use the software quickly and effectively.”
She adds, “Another benefit is security and safety on our side. AgilLink has dual function releasing, so that there is no one person inside our firm that can initiate and release something. It affords us the ability to have multiple sets of eyes to correct mistakes before they get too far in the process. This gives the clients a piece of mind as well, knowing that there is no single person that can run both input and release. And we have added in another level of security in that one of the partners must be the releaser, so the responsibility is ultimately with the partners.”
Addepar is an integration which has offered Curated Wealth Partners several benefits. Moffat states, “The Addepar integration enables Curated to pull Addepar investment information into the general ledger, then tying it to client statements. This saves manual labor, eliminates transcription errors, and adds value. If you are a firm that has families that have investment-heavy portfolios, you must have this technology. This integration saves us around 40 hours a month of labor, which enables our teams to concentrate on higher value-add work for our families.”
Winding down our conversation, Susan Moffat offers listeners some final words of advice: “Before you invest in the software and the technology, make sure you have a staff with an accounting background or experience — the capabilities of the systems go beyond what a bookkeeper understands. Before we decided what tech stack we were going to use on the family office side of our business, we hired a key person that had the wealth of knowledge and experience we needed. We understand that you must be able to exploit the total functionality that is available with the software. Without the right people in place, I think we would not have been using the software to its full capabilities.”
ABOUT CURATED WEALTH PARTNERS
Curated Wealth Partners is focused on serving wealthy families. Susan describes the organization this way: “We are a registered investment advisor that operates as a multi-family office, which means that we tend to work with a select group of clients in the ultra, ultra-high-net worth category. Our client profile is that of families with large diversified portfolios looking for a financial advisor with a full-service stack and many years of diversified experience.”
Curated Wealth Partners is driven by relationships, and they work hard to form a high level of trust with their clients, which they view as critical to their success.
This article is for general information and education only. It is provided as a courtesy to the clients and friends of AgilLink. AgilLink does not warrant that it is accurate or complete. Opinions expressed and estimates or projections given are those of the authors or persons quoted as of the date of the article with no obligation to update or notify of inaccuracy or change. This article may not be reproduced, distributed or further published by any person without the written consent of AgilLink. Please cite source when quoting.
This podcast is for general information and education only and is provided as a courtesy to the clients and friends of AgilLink. It is compiled from data and sources believed to be reliable, however AgilLink does not warrant that it is accurate or complete. Opinions expressed and estimates given are those of the speaker as of the date of the podcast with no obligation to update or notify of inaccuracy or change.
City National Bank is a subsidiary of Royal Bank of Canada. Deposit products and services are provided by City National Bank.
Curated Wealth Partners is an independent company and is not associated with AgilLink, City National Bank, or RBC.