Ryan George

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Epi 31: Grow Your Productivity & Profitability with Automation – Ryan George, CMO of Docupace

Learn More about Docupace at: https://www.docupace.com/ 

Find Ryan George on LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rageorge/

JC: Welcome everybody to another episode of The Future of Biz Tech. I’m your host JC Granger, I have with me here, Ryan George, the CMO of Docupace. Ryan, thank you so much for coming on the show. Why don’t you tell the audience a little bit about yourself and what it is that you do?

Ryan: Sure JC. So first of all, I’m very, very happy to be here, happy to have this conversation. One of the things I love most about my job is I get to talk to people about what we do here at Docupace. And being able to be that ambassador and that evangelist. So these conversations are very exciting for me, so I work for a company called Docupase. Docupase is based in LA, Los Angeles, California.

We are a solutions provider that’s focused on digitizing and automating operations in the financial advice industry. So that sounds really great, but basically it’s, it’s a cloud-based platform that allows us to automate and empower people to reduce back-office expenses, improve efficiency, and strengthen their recruiting of new advisors and clients as well as enhancing the advisor-client experience. So we’ve been in business since the early 2000s. So in the FinTech space, we are a grandpa, but we have been innovating ourselves and are much different today than we had been in years past.

JC: Well, for one, I love software that deals in finance for one, because I think that that’s one of those industries that has so many complications and so many moving parts that any time you can streamline, that is always something that I like to see. I mean, we work with a lot of clients in that space too, so that’s pretty cool. Well, let me ask you a question or what does this look like? You know, to the user, like, for example, is this something you sell to banks or are you selling it to financial advisors? Like these individual people, I mean, who really gets the most use out of your software? And then what does that do? To help them in their regular daily process?

Ryan: Sure. That’s a great question. So we broadly deal with enterprise clients, meaning larger businesses. So we have, historically, we haven’t sold directly to financial advisors as much as we’ve sold to institutions like independent broker-dealers, large RA firms, banks in the bank, channel insurance, broker-dealers, in those like those who have a need, they have complex processes in lots of different hands in the pot and so they need to sort of streamline and automate that process.

We are expanding as always. So looking to expand into different markets specifically, right now, we’re working on a sort of more streamlined solution that can work with smaller firms, like in the RNA space that there’s, you know, RAs that have 250 clients or so that, you know, they’re opening accounts on a general basis.

So that’s who we sell to. So you know, in marketing terms, we call it the B2B space, but I don’t love being branded as such. I feel like marketers are just marketers. And so that’s where we are and just to give you sort of an idea of our scope –  so last year in 2020, so COVID year, we had processed 11 million work items through our system. Opened to over a million accounts, new client accounts in our system to process 25 million electronic documents delivered through our system, as well as, you know, one of the things that’s most impactful for us is by, based on our calculations, we saved our clients 380,000 minutes of time that they would spend processing paperwork and they had, they not been using a solution like that.

JC: So this solution really helps with getting through that paper process a lot faster than and, you know, daily time, you know, saved and whatnot, which I imagine is obviously probably even more, you know, useful during, with this big boom in refinancing and home buying and whatnot. I mean, because the interest rates are so low, is that something you’re seeing like an uptake in people buying us because of that?

Ryan: Sure and not specifically in the mortgage space, but in the investment space. So, you know, believe it or not, the market had one of the best years that it’s had in the past couple of decades and this past year during one of the worst pandemic in a century. And so that’s where we’re specifically in the investment space and there are lots of – there are trust accounts, there are investment accounts, there are joint accounts with your husband or wife or other spouse.

And so that’s where we, where we squarely sit in. One of the things that I think has really been beneficial for our clients is we help bundle the paperwork. So there’s, you know, as you can imagine in a highly regulated space, There you need to have specific forms and specific disclosures that go with the types of products that are being sold, as well as making sure that the advisor selling them to the client, did that it’s appropriate.

Then the advisor has the license to sell with it, all those things. Well, we help streamline those processes to make sure all the checks are in place. All that the checks and balances are in place to make sure that the client is getting the right product for them. And then their account is being opened effectively and quickly.

JC: So, how do you guys prioritize the new features that you come out with? You know, I mean, there’s obviously a big wishlist. You also probably have feedback from clients. How does Docupace decide which things get worked on and what kind of maybe new features are coming out soon to help with all these things?

Ryan: Sure. So I think we have three different levels and I think that that’s a good place to start. So one is we have to decide our space and decide, okay, so what space are we in today? How are we performing in that space? Like for instance, automation, are we automating effectively as we should?

And are we, do we need to make product improvements there? Are we deploying effectively as you know, are we not having any severities or any outages in our systems. And that’s one where that the product is constantly looking to make improvement. Then from a strategic standpoint, one of we’re also looking at, okay, so where is the business heading? So industry heading. And what were the people need in order to effectively serve, uh, the run an operation in that space?

And so like for instance, looking at reporting, we’ll want to make sure that we have the best reporting capabilities possible, because we all know that data either they’re going to be the death knell or the tremendous opportunity among any type of technology company that’s digital moving forward.

And so that that’s another space. And then we also have client feedback, right? So we have constant round tables. We have an advisory council of our clients. That’s, you know, executive leadership among our clients that helps us guide making sure that we’re on the right path.

JC: So let’s talk about reporting because I’m a marketing guy like you, right? And so reporting is, is everything to me with your system, does it allow, is it kind of like a drag and drop thing, you know, where they can customize reports? Do you guys already kind of decide what kind of reports? Like what kind of freedom do the users of this have when it comes to the types of reports that they’re trying to run?

Ryan: So the system that we.. so we’re overhauling the system and it will be deployed later this year and there’ll be two-fold. One would be sort of the standardized reporting because sometimes people just don’t exactly know what’s best practice or know where to look. And we would definitely, you know, be able to provide that standard report.

And then there are customized reports. There are certain people that want to measure themselves against peers, measure themselves against, um, you know, other different areas within the operation. So that would be something else that’s a customized report as well. So it’s a twofold approach.

I wouldn’t necessarily think we’ll ever get to, um, because of the complexity of the systems, I don’t think we’ll ever get to where it’s specific, like checking box or drag and dropping. But I do think we would be able to create a level of highly level version of customized reporting, based on the systems that we’re working on putting in place.

JC: So let’s talk marketing a little bit here. So you’re the CMO and this is your whole bag, right? As far as that’s your job to make sure that the more people know about Docubase and other than doing, you know, podcasts like this and whatnot, what is Docupace doing from a digital standpoint to get the word out?

I mean, you know, what kind of verticals are you personally, you know, attacking. What kind of advice could you give to the audience? You know, as far as, you know, things you’ve seen work, you know, cause not all software are created equal, but you know, when you’re in that space, you know, it can be difficult to finding a good path.

Ryan: Well, sure. I mean, I think in PR conversations like this are generally incredibly important for us because, you know, I still believe in whether it’s B2B, B2C or B2B, whomever, you know, human selling to humans and humans, communicating with humans is really where businesses find their growth. And I think from a digital strategy you know, it really centers around content. So are we providing information that’s useful to our audience, whether they’re a customer of ours or not, are we presenting ourselves and the expertise we have in the space in a way that allows people to be, to feel like we are somebody who A, knows and understands the needs of their business, B has solutions and strategies that can help overcome those challenges and then C, are we knowledgeable and trustworthy in order to help that someday they want to partner with us. Because of the, like I said, we basically wrap ourselves around somebody’s entire operation. Our clients don’t generally come and go. So once they have our occupants platform installed, they tend to be fairly sticky.

So part of what my job is to do is to make sure that we are not only helping inform our clients but helping them innovate themselves and push themselves forward. And so that’s what I would say is sort of the veins, the blood that runs through our marketing strategy. And in addition, we have, you know, all the high-performing tools like we have, we use Pardot for emails.

We use Demandbase for ABM strategy. We have other content syndication with other partners, like integrate on B2B. So we’re leveraging all those like sort of lead gen operations, as well as, you know, the, the standard sort of emails, social and other platforms like that.

JC: Very cool. Very cool. You know, being the podcast, The Future of BizTech, right?

We’re going to start to talk a little bit about what’s coming down the pipeline. So my first question for you is, you know, where do you see the industry as a whole, like so FinTech obviously is advancing. Very fast-paced. You know, I think the only one that keeps up or sometimes surpasses now, and then it’s like MarTech, right? Marketing technology. So in the FinTech world that you’re in, where do you see this in five years, for example. And specifically when I ask this question, I’m kind of leaning towards the integration of AI and also on how that has an issue with regulation, right? Where you see those two sometimes start to battle, where do you see this, the FinTech industry being in five years and any big revelations that pop in your head?

Ryan: Sure. So I think there are four things that I think are really worth keeping an eye on. One of them is regulation. So often in the FinTech space regulation, where it is a headwind for a lot of businesses, it actually is an opportunity for FinTech because they’re often creating user regulation, best interest, which the sec came out with last year that created opportunity for Docubase to create a client delivery system that meets with those requirements.

And it becomes a sales and growth opportunity for us, but there’s also a lot of items that are still sort of unaddressed here in the United States. Like GDPR is not something that has been widely adopted across the United States. You know, we’ve seen what cybersecurity threats. So I think how that’s regulated and really banding together.

I think that’s a huge pillar of what’s going to drive both innovations inside FinTech as well as POBS is possible to be some headwinds for growth as driving up maybe operational costs of these businesses to align with new regulations. So I think regulation is one. I think another one is consolidation.

So similar to what you said about MarTech actually saw a Michael Kitsis is a financial blogger and financial advisor talking about that. There was more than 5,000, in the MarTech map, there are now more than 5,000 companies that are sort of in that landscape. And that’s just crazy to me. And that’s just, so again, I think that that’s in FinTech, we, while we’re not at 5,000, I do think we have a sort of, not a saturated market where there’s a lot of players that could actually combine together can actually provide a better service and a better technology to, um, to the marketplace. And you’re already seeing that yesterday there was a big announcement. InvestCloud bought a company called Navicent.

Naviplan – sorry, it was owned by Advicent. And that consolidation is happening all over the place so there’s almost a merger or acquisition announced every day. So that veteran I think, is here to stay and that will be, you know, something that’s important going forward. I think the third one is data.

Everything you talked about, AI and data, I mean, There’s so much data. And I think people at the point now where they’re A – have realized that they have a lot of data on their hands, B – don’t really know what it means and what’s in it. And C – haven’t figured out exactly how to leverage it, to make people’s businesses better or provide better service.

So I think getting your hands around data, making sure that you have it, the right privacy plot policies and paced place, that you have the ability to analyze that data and actually become a consultant on your customer’s business. I think is a huge part of what FinTech can be. And then the last one really can impact Docupace and this, we call it let’s sort of the back office revolution.

So a lot of the financial technologies have been very retail, consumer-faced. So they’ve been focused on sort of, at least in financial advice. They’ve been focused on what can the financial advisor put in front of the client, what shiny object that looks cool. And while that’s great, we’ve sort of had ignored what you will.

We talked about the beginning of this conversation, which is the back office. So operations, making sure that you’re running your business efficiently. And I think that’s something that you’re starting to see much more increased because the next dollar that can be invested is actually showing a better ROI in the back office than it is in the front office, because of just the sort of being ignored for so long.

Sorry. That was a long-winded.

JC: No, it’s a great answer. But now let’s pivot to Docupace specifically. So you know, this podcast is probably a couple months cued out, so, you know, when they hear it, you know, it’d be a couple months from now.

Do you have any features coming out right now that, or, or soon that, uh, that the audience could look forward to by the time they hear this, you know, or something that you have, you know, six months or a year plan, as far as you know, where Docupace specifically is gonna be going feature-wise?

Ryan: Sure. In terms of consolidation, I think. We are highly active in the acquisition market. And I think that’s something that we will continue to be in sort of helping round out that back-office capability. So we are looking to deploy a new backend architecture. That’s actually going to make us a little bit more nimble in terms of getting into the RA space.

Like, as you mentioned earlier, and the reporting, I think is a big part of what we’re doing..

JC: For the audience. What is RA?

Ryan: Sorry I keep talking in jargon. I apologize. I hate jargon. I just keep using it. It’s a registered investment advisor, so that’s a legal entity, but the registered investment advisors, what I would call an independent advisor.

So somebody who doesn’t have Merrill Lynch on the door, they have JC Granger on the door. Well, in that’s the type of, and that’s actually where the biggest growth opportunity in the business lies today. So I think functionality deployment in overall increases to our cloud or UX and UI, I think is something that, you know, will we continue to work on throughout the year

JC: And what brought you to Docupace specifically? I mean, uh, did you, were you one of the original people and then you were always CMO or did you come in after the fact? Like what, what brought you in?

Ryan: Sure. So last year, just about this, uh, in April of last year, Docupase was purchased by a company called FTV capital.

And when they made the acquisition, they installed a gentleman named David Knoch, who is our CEO. As the new CEO to the business. And I had worked for David for about 10 years prior to that, a company called First Global that was acquired in 2019. And so I just, he got hired and decided he needed, he was looking to increase some of the marketing capacity of Docupace.

And so here I am. So, you know, one of the things that’s interesting for me as a CMO is when you take these roles, you always think about, okay, so what does the market say about the role? And so I’m well aware of CML being the shortest tenure role in the C-suite. And what I’ve, you know, was leading into was thinking, okay, the number one contributing factor of success with the CMOs is often, well, how much do they get along with the CEO?

And so that’s one of the good things, but benefits that I have here at Docubase is having a good, strong relationship with our CEO and understanding what he’s looking to do, what the vision for the company is and how I can help impact that.

JC: Well, it’s an, I like that answer because that’s going to parlay into my next question, which is, you know, what advice would you give to the audience based on your experience and specifically if I might, because you’re talking about this relationship base, you know, with the CEO and whatnot, but what kind of advice would you give, whether it be, you know, just from your, from your Sage wisdom of your years doing this and in the position that you’re at right now.

Ryan: Sure. You know, one of the things that I think, you know, I’m sure you’re the same way is we’re high charging people we’re really invested in our careers. And I think. Somebody told me once that it’s important to have an identity that is deeper than the conversation up today, meaning all the stuff that you’re doing today, whether it’s business success, whether it’s his podcast, whether it’s speaking on an event, what have you, whether it’s getting promotion, the identity that you need to keep inside at home and with your family, with your friends, needs to be deeper than what is happening today.

And I think that that’s something that I really took to heart because. Too much of my life had probably been spent, you know, buried in work, working on weekends heads down and sort of ignoring the overall pieces of life that I could really be building upon. And I think that’s something that as younger people who I really find are up and coming in the career, I try to remind them of that just because I don’t want them to have the same sort of missed time that I may have had, but everybody has their own path.

Right? So, you know, my path is, could be similar to somebody else’s or it could be different.

JC: I like that answer a lot. And, um, let me ask you a question. If somebody was interested in, in contacting either you personally, uh, for partnership deals or whatnot, or if they wanted to find the company, you know, there’s RAs may be listening right now or bigger investment, uh, you know, what kind of information do you want to give the audience website wise, email wise, whatever.

Ryan: Sure. So they can always reach out to me and my email. So it’s Ryan_George@Docupace.com , but really they can find us on LinkedIn. We have a documents technologies page, as well as our website. Docupace that’s D-O-C-U-P-A-C-E.com in that it has all the information contact things that they would need.

JC: Well, that’s awesome. Ryan, listen, I want to absolutely thank you for being on the show today. I’m a big fan of FinTech. So you kind of got my tail wagging and my ears perked today. So thanks for sharing with everyone. And, well, I know we’ll be talking again soon.

Ryan: Great to speak with you, JC. Bye-bye.


infinityadminEpi 31: Grow Your Productivity & Profitability with Automation – Ryan George, CMO of Docupace