Care For Your Customers To Serve Them Best
David Knoch is the CEO of Docupace, the leading digital operations technology provider that simplifies how wealth management firms both process and digitize their data. Before joining Docupace, he served as President of 1st Global, a wealth management partner to CPA and tax planning firms. He was named to the ThinkAdvisor Luminaries Class of 2021 and was awarded CEO of the Year by WealthTech Americas in April 2022.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
Why Docupace exists and how it helps people
How David Knoch started in financial services and transitioned to tech
David talks about 1st Global and its relationship with Docupace
Docupace’s first customer and working with clients early on
The impact of customer success on David’s leadership style
How AI impacts customer experience
David’s advice for leaders on how to win more customers
In this episode…
Do you have a financial plan? How can you go through the process faster, more securely, and with fewer errors?
Financial planning can be a tedious and stressful process. Many financial services professionals are frustrated by the time-consuming process of fully helping their customers transform their finances. Thanks to Docupace, which has eliminated transactional paperwork and its associated costs, financial services firms can efficiently serve their clients and increase their profits.
In this episode of The Customer Wins, Richard Walker sits down with David Knoch, CEO of Docupace, to discuss how financial services firms can best serve their clients. David explains why Docupace’s process, working with clients in the early days, and how AI impacts the customer experience.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
David Knoch’s Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
"Helping Customers Win Through More Secure Transaction With Pem Guerry"
"How Evolving From Customer To Tech Insider Helps Customers Win"
Sponsor for this episode...
This is brought to you by Quik!
At Quik!, we provide forms automation and management solutions for companies seeking to maximize their potential productivity.
Our vision is to become the leading forms automation company by making paperwork the easiest part of every transaction.
Meanwhile, our mission is to help the top firms in the financial industry raise their bottom line by streamlining the customer experience with automated, convenient solutions.
Go to www.quickforms.com to learn more, or contact us with questions at email@example.com.
Welcome to The Customer Wins podcast where business leaders discuss their secrets and techniques for helping their customers succeed and in turn grow their business.
Richard Walker 0:16
Hi, I'm Rich Walker, the host of The Customer Wins where I talk to business leaders about how they help their customers win and how their focus on customer experience leads to growth. Some of our past guests have included Pem Guerry at SIGNiX and Patrick Meyer at DocuSign. Today I'm speaking with David Knoch the CEO of Docupace. This episode is brought to you by Quik! the leader in enterprise forms automation. If your sales process depends on filling out forms, especially when it's within a new account opening system like Docupase, then you should be using Quik!, we make filling out forms the easiest part of your transaction, visit quikforms.com to get started. Now before I introduce today's guest, I want to give a big thank you to our partners that Docupace and share a fun fact, we've been doing business together since 2011. And the customers on the Docupace platform have now generated 27 million forms and saved over 21,000 trees. With that, let me introduce our guest, David Knoch, CEO Docupace, a solutions provider focused on digitizing and automating operations in the financial advice and Investment Industry. Prior to joining Docupace, David served as president of 1st Global, a wealth management partner to CPA and tax planning firms. David served in that role for 11 years prior to the company's strategic sale to Blucora in 2019. David is also a recognized leader having been named the ThinkAdvisor Luminaries Class of 2021, was awarded CEO of the Year by WealthTech Americas and April 22, and was voted one of the most 25 influential people in the investment advisory industry two years in a row in 2018 19 by the reserves of Investment Advisory magazine. David, welcome to The Customer Wins.
David Knoch 1:55
Thanks, Rich, super glad to be here. It's gonna be a fun conversation today. I think.
Richard Walker 2:00
I've been looking forward to this. Now, if you haven't heard this podcast before I talk with business leaders about what they're doing to help their customers win, how they build and deliver a great customer experience. And the challenge is to grow in their own company. David, I know Docupace but our audience and really I want to understand your business a little better. Fundamentally, how does your company help people?
David Knoch 2:21
That's a great, thank you for asking the question rich, I'm gonna give you two answers. I'm gonna kind of give you the reason why Docupace exists in my mind. And I'll tell you a little bit more practically about what we do to help the financial services industry and help people. So sort of stating our purpose, so here's my perspective. I guess I'll start with asking you a question. Have you ever been through a financial planning process?
Richard Walker 2:46
Oh, personally? Yeah.
David Knoch 2:48
Did you enjoy the experience?
Richard Walker 2:50
The hard part of that experience was all the data they wanted upfront, and how much effort that took. And then I didn't even feel like they used all of it. So I can't say I really enjoyed it all.
David Knoch 3:01
Let me ask you more specific question about your level of enjoyment. Did you like talking about money and mortality?
Richard Walker 3:08
Oh, mortality is the worst conversation, right? I'm looking at my wife, like, you're gonna die. She's like, No, you have to die before me. It's not a fun conversation at all.
David Knoch 3:16
But most people don't mind the financial planning process, right? Because there's some outcome they're trying to achieve. That generally seems pretty exciting to them. But the whole part where you got to talk about money mortality is generally pretty filled with anxieties. Those are not natural conversations for people but you do it. You talk to a financial advisor about money and mortality, you give them all the data, sometimes the processes, Grayson was just not great. Listen, we have a business called Precise FP that can make it great for firms if they want to do that. But that's beside the point. But you get through the process, right. And what comes out of that process is a financial plan that to some degree represents. So the physical manifestation of this conversation about hopes, dreams and aspirations, which involve money and mortality somewhere along the way, and you released at some point, you release that plan into some implementation phase, whether through the financial planner or on your own, you've got to turn that plan into reality. And then your name gets spelled wrong. Rick Walker, not Richard Walker, you get paperwork that comes back to you because you missed the signature. You have to transfer assets between platforms, and that transfer takes too long, like something happens to almost everybody somewhere in that process, which makes them revisit all those anxieties again. And so next time, a financial planning opportunity comes up for you, right, the birth of your child, for example, and you want to think about how do we do education planning, maybe you hesitate to call your financial advisor and so from our view, we want to turn financial planning into financial planning well executed, so that we can make sure that there is no anxiety, stress or friction in that financial planning process that you can get through it talking about money mortality, get this plan and bring that plan to life with all of the confidence that you had, at the point you tried to bring that plan into reality. And so that's the reason ultimately, how do we help people that's how we believe we help people now more practically, Docupase is a back-office solutions provider. For the wealth management industry. We do everything that exists in the back office of typically enterprise wealth management firms. But our clients are everyone from sole practitioners to giant multi 1000, advisor enterprises, new account opening workflow, docu management, data storage, regulatory document delivery, advisor, compensation, compliance, and so on, and so forth, and so our goal at the end of the day, is to make sure that financial planning becomes financial planning, well executed, we just have a series of tools that allows firms who believe that the next stage of their value proposition is to transcend experience, and now go into focus on execution.
Richard Walker 6:12
I love that vision because I was a financial advisor, before I started Quik!, and having a client signed documents and haven't rejected which means their deposit got delayed by two extra weeks, and they missed the market opportunity. Oh my gosh, that's so embarrassing, so uncomfortable. I'm surprised that didn't lose the customer over it.
David Knoch 6:32
Yeah, it's a huge part of the stress for a financial advisor, particularly in the financial advisor context where the advisor is relying on a third party to help build their brand in the eyes of their clients. That's a huge extension of trust. And we take that very seriously.
Richard Walker 6:50
Yeah. So let's go further back in your career, you've been in financial services a long time, what made you want to get started on that path?
David Knoch 6:57
So if I go really far back, and we go to a different industry that I was in, I was sort of fascinated about the ability for businesses, which transcended upheaval, but fascinated by the ability for metrics and data to get connected to outcomes, particularly financial outcomes. And so in a different career, I became very curious about the financial services industry, because I saw this connection on the data analysis metrics side with outcomes. I've since that obviously learned about how human this business is, and how metric and data focused, it shouldn't be, but that's beside the point. And so that was sort of the key trigger for me to explore career financial services multiple decades ago. Having got my sort of early view into the financial services industry, I think there were two things that motivated me a lot in my earlier days. One was, I think, early my financial services career, I was blessed with an opportunity to serve solve problems at scale that made financial advisors lives better. And I found myself enjoying that. And through that, I got to understand sort of the nobility of our profession, right how aligned financial advisors were, and with the outcomes that our clients helped personally, they took it out called the service they were, and in my case, most of my career was spent helping CPA financial advisors, help their clients be successful. And so, I learned that there were sort of two common threads in the CPA profession that caused them to be advisors, which I loved one was, they love solving complex problems. And second, they love doing good for people. And both of those needed to exist in the relationship with the client for good things to happen. And I loved being part of that. And so that was sort of the fuel that got poured in the fire. And ultimately, what made me realize this is not a data-driven industry whatsoever, but relationship and client driven industry. So for what it's worth,
Richard Walker 9:04
Yeah, it's definitely a psychology. And I really resonate with something you said in there. When I was a financial advisor, and I had the software product, I felt like wow, if I could help 10 clients or 100 clients directly, or I can go help 1000s of advisors help 10s and hundreds of clients across 1000s. And I liked that impact. I like having a bigger impact that way. So let me ask you, you switched out of managing a very successful company through a sale. And then you went to the tech side of the world, what brought you over to tech?
David Knoch 9:37
So I think the biggest thing that brought me technology was experience I had in my prior firm early on in building technology. And so I have the privilege to work very, very closely with a number of key technology people. One of the things I was proud of creating or being part of creating, at 1st Global was our investment in advisory programs and those programs in the early days were actually created by us. We built full portfolio accounting system, we built performance reporting, we built billing, build trading, we built advisor portals proposal system. And we had we had a very, very comprehensive system, Model Management rebalancing, all event and platform rebuilt. And so these were the days before a lot of sort of formal business analysis work and Agile and Scrum existed. And what I didn't realize until later was we were actually doing a lot of, what are today so Agile principles. And so as business analysts, which I never realized I was, I was writing documentation that was sitting with the engineers, and helping them bring this to life. And through that, I learned how to write SQL code into our database structure. And so the power of technology to influence outcomes for financial advisors create better results for them to create better results for their clients became super apparent through building Investment Advisory Program. It was hundreds of billions when I took it over, and very, very unscaled and was billions and billions and billions by the time we sold that business. And so I understood the power of technology. Plus, I also think you probably have gotten a little bit more sort of technology background experience than the typical wealth management president or CEO. So I knew I wanted my career to go into the technology space, if I was ending up in a career shift.
Richard Walker 11:33
That's great. That's really great. Now, was it 1st Global customer of Docupace.
David Knoch 11:39
Yeah, we were. We were a client, we still are. I mean, that firm is still a client of Docupace. But while I was there, yes, I hired Docupace. That relationship was probably 10 years old. By the time I transitioned out of that firm and came over to Docupace. So yeah, I've got an interesting perspective on the business from both running and being a client of it.
Richard Walker 12:01
Yeah, for sure. And those aren't easy decisions. So I'm curious, like, what was the main thing that drew you to Docupace and made you say, this is the company we want to invest with for 10 years?
David Knoch 12:07
Yeah, I mean, so I think there's two stages to that rich. And so first, it was very early on and Docupace's history when the product solution set was a lot smaller, right. I mean, our big impetus back then was to get rid of all the dark file cabinets that were literally on every wall of the office, right. And so, the SCC had allowed people to start storing documents electronically and shredding the physical copies. And of course, we, like everybody else in the industry, perhaps want to take advantage and Docupace was the key player in that space. And so we like many large providers in the financial services industry chose Docupace to kind of help with those early stages of digital transformation. And so that was the big, big, early impetus, but like the rest of the financial services industry, I think we too, saw the power of Docupace to be a much more comprehensive Back Office platform. And so we grew along with occupies to allowing it into your account, opening process and greater part of our workflow, we got to share sort of a common experience and SLA is with our financial advisors, we ultimately ended up many, many years into the relationship taking an opportunity to fully zero base in a good way. Like let's sort of re-implement Docupace and take advantage of everything Docupace has done and everything we'd learned as a business. And it was an amazing experience, because we drove the new account opening times to a few hours as opposed to what our peers were experiencing in many more than a few hours or a few days. And we drove financial advisor satisfaction with the back office to 97%. And we couldn't have done it, without Docupace platform. And so we were sort of proud of our ability to use sort of a common technology platform to really scale the business, focus our team on their best work and create better results for our clients.
Richard Walker 14:09
That's a great story. And I forget how simple the beginnings are of a company where Docupace was focused on document storage, in a time when gigabytes were not cheap and not freely available. And how it evolves. Do you know Docupace's first customer is that a story that you can talk about?
David Knoch 14:27
Yeah, I mean Docupace's first customer was well before my time and about four years into our history. What was at the time the voice of business, which is actually now that part of the business now. It's Derek business. And so that was our first financial services customer really changed the trajectory of the business prior to that, we were focused on a broad-based industries for document management. Anyway that was sort of the first, first real meaningful entrance into the financial services industry. And so that was a great client that and great client today.
Richard Walker 15:09
Yeah. Do you think that they were influential and driving the genesis and evolution of documentaries? And if so, how?
David Knoch 15:17
100%? Right, I mean, as you know, your early and meaningful clients are your, oftentimes your deepest collaborators and partners, right. And so their perspectives and views are really important in shaping what ultimately becomes the future direction of the product, right. And so, in many respects, we remain eternally grateful to them for the path that they were pretty key in setting us upon. So I'm not sure Docupace would look the way it does today, if it weren't for, I think the collaborative nature of that relationship, which has stayed that way, since its early day.
Richard Walker 15:57
Well, I personally feel what you said is really true. But it's kind of a balancing act, maybe a double-edged sword in some ways. Because if you listen too much to a customer, and only do what they want, you may not serve other customers, or drive off your core competencies and start doing things that you weren't supposed to do. When you join Docupace, did you have to bring things back into the front and center? Or was it really well, hold on? I just don't know, at that stage.
David Knoch 16:21
Yeah. I mean, listen, to observe a principle of least in my view of principle of how to work with clients. I think a tendency of many businesses is to respond to its clients by saying I can I think the better response is that I care. And so in that, I think there's an obligation at times to first, tell the client the truth that they may need to hear at that time we tell it, that's what's accurate, like, I care enough about you, I will tell you no, when no is the right answer, because it will keep you from making a mistake heading down the wrong path. That's hard for businesses in their early days, because they want to be accommodating, they want to capture the business, they want to do the project, they are perhaps uncomfortable and try to take a consultative approach with clients. Listen, some businesses in their early days do this quite well. But many are, I think, sort of more anxious to do that. And I'm not sure we were really any different. And so part of my journey here has been sort of help our team understand what I believe is our responsibility to our clients, to use our 21 years of success and failure to make sure that clients do their best to avoid the failure part of it and only end up with the success piece. And so, to me, we definitely had to your for that, I believe. And I think this principle of I care, not I can is a huge part of delivering what I believe is the right experience for clients.
Richard Walker 18:00
That's great. So you've talked about early days, what is one of your favorite customer success stories, or even a failure point that was pivotal for Docupace? How did you help them transform? What was their outcome?
David Knoch 18:14
Yeah, I mean, I'll tell you a few. And again, I think there's some client service principles that matter to me, embedded in some of these, so I'll give you a few. And so we've got a very, very large client, our largest client, in fact. We work together on a project with them, which is very, very, very complex. A lot of parties involved a lot of technology, a lot of just very complex. And it's interesting, because we found a way in that relationship. And it's been important and intentional to us to have what I described as sort of mutuality and openness in it. And so that relationship is characterized in one respect on being very curious about the other, there's not a lot of blame, even in cases of failure. We take responsibility without being held accountable, like we found our way to really have this mutual and open relationship that I think makes the quality of our work better. And we've been intentional about having fun in that relationship. And so I don't know that that's always the character of the biggest client or big client relationship. Oftentimes, there's a lot of on the part of the business, fear and anxiety that shows up even if the clients not attended to create that, that fear and anxiety sometimes can keep the business from putting its best foot forward. And if the client means at all into that fear and anxiety as a way to sort of course outcomes, which happens from time to time from time to time, I actually think it gets worse. Right. And so, I've acknowledged to them publicly, and I think they've acknowledged back to us that this character of that relationship is part of what creates our combined success, we truly are one team focused on one outcome. I also think and so I'm proud of that there's another one that sort of happened recently, there's a client we were working with on a big project and that they hit a snag unrelated to us, they hit a snag in this project to where I think, they had asked a question, I realized it was an opportunity to serve here. And so rather than think about this as an economic condition, I think it's response, I think it's an important part if you really care about client experience client service, to put outcomes before economics. And so this, we had scoped this project out, the project was where we expected it to be. And I felt as if the right decision for this client was just to help them out, like, we got your back will take care of it. And so we help them in this situation that they found themselves in was not our responsibility to help. We didn't have any unique experience here. But they could move work from their plate to ours. We did it for free. We paid our people, project paid work after hours to do it. And everyone sort of won in that case, right. And so I think if you put outcomes before economics, beautiful things may happen later. I don't think businesses think that way all the time. It's like, okay, I've got an opportunity to serve, how am I gonna make money up? And I'm not suggesting making money isn't important. Right. But I'm suggesting that it's not always, I think if you enter into every client experience and client relationship, and every client situation as a transaction, I think you're destined to end up with a transactional relationship. And so it was important for us to not think of this as a transaction, but just an opportunity for one business to help another. And we'll worry about it later. And so I liked, I mean, it was the other one, and I'll go to the sort of your side. I wish I could say every implementation we've ever done has been a perfect implementation. Certainly, historically, that may have not always been the case for us, I think today, it's much better. But I don't like to leave a lack of success out there in the minds of clients. And so I think it's really for me, and I know our team, it's really important, keeping this principle of outcome before economics, to uphold the value proposition of your brand, there are like, if you tell someone, you will create an outcome for them, then you should create that outcome for them, whatever it takes. And so we've had an opportunity with that, setting aside the past, setting aside economics, to just do what needs to be done, right. And so we've got some really accept really successful reinvigoration of some relationships, just based on saying let's make this work, let's not accept anything other than an unmitigated success as the outcome and so that I think can embold in a team internally as well. Because once they realize that quality and service can be synonymous with their work, they want to do more of it. And so they'll go start seeking out every case where they were less than perfect and be like, let's go back and make it perfect. I think that's great. So anyway, I could keep going on this stuff forever.