Customer Stories

Asset Vantage Brings its Ultra-High-Net-Worth Clients AP Standardization and Enhanced Security with BILL

Chirag Nanavati, MBA, Managing Director at Asset Vantage, discusses the value of integrating automated bill pay into financial management workflows for family offices.

Tell us about Asset Vantage.

Asset Vantage is a premier performance reporting and general ledger platform serving ultra-high-net-worth (UHNW) individuals and families. We work with families with complex wealth and trusted advisors of those families including accounting firms, multi-family offices, and trust companies. We're here to help them run more like business.

“We bring BILL in to tighten up AP loose ends. It adds layers of security to AP, enforces review and approval workflows, limits access to bank accounts, and provides an audit trail. These things can’t happen if you’re using paper checks or sharing bank account credentials.”

— Chirag Nanavati, Managing Director at Asset Vantage

Your company has helped more than 300 family offices and multi-family offices. What would you say is the most common inefficiency you see? 

Overall, many family offices lack process standardization. Workflows are often  people-dependent—meaning the process is dictated by the person doing the work. This causes immense disruption. For example, consider when people move to a new team or a new employee is hired to fill a specific role. This leaves it up to the individual to reinvent the workflow wheel. It’s a hard cycle to break.

How does this lack of standardization relate to AP?

It makes their AP processes labor-intensive and open to a higher risk of human error.

Bills are normally emailed or mailed to a family office. The number of bills can be substantial. If, for example, a client has 50 properties, you’re looking at landscaping, utilities, cleaning, repairs, and other types of expenses for each property. It’s a feat just to gather and organize that information. 

Then, there's the payments. Many of our clients use paper checks to pay bills. The family offices have to print checks, stuff envelopes, overnight them to the signers, and then post them afterward. They rely on spreadsheets to track, manage, and update transactions and often have to manually enter the AP information into accounting systems. Sometimes, they have a separate accounting and investment tracking platform and a separate expense platform. Then they often take the sum of an income account and plug it in one of them. It's all manual, right?

In fact, the AP process is so time-consuming that some of our family office clients will use external vendors to manage bill pay and pay up to $5,000 a month for this service.

“Multi-family offices and accounting firms have found they can scale with BILL and handle many more clients with the same team.”

— Chirag Nanavati, Managing Director at Asset Vantage

Do you have security concerns around using paper checks?

Yes, several. Paper checks are just too easy to forge or fall into the wrong hands. They can be delivered to the wrong address or get lost in the mail. Those checks have the customers’ signatures, as well as the bank account and routing numbers. 

Does paying electronically provide better security?

It depends on how you pay electronically. For UHNW clients, they don’t operate their bank accounts directly. They have someone else login under their information and handle transactions. It gives numerous people direct access to funds and you don’t know who has done what.

We bring BILL in to tighten up AP loose ends. It adds layers of security to AP, enforces review and approval workflows, limits access to bank accounts, and provides an audit trail. These things can’t happen if you’re using paper checks or sharing bank account credentials.

What drew your attention to BILL?

There were other AP technologies, but they were niche-based. After researching, it became clear that BILL was the answer. It’s easy to use and one of the most comprehensive platforms available that focuses on bill payments.

How does BILL work?

Invoices enter the BILL system digitally, via email or vendor upload, are coded in real-time, and routed to the inbox. Clients can view and approve bills online from any device. They also have a variety of ways to pay including domestic ACH, international wires, and virtual cards. Every transaction has an audit trail.

How does Asset Vantage software work with BILL?

The API integration with BILL and Asset Vantage brings all data into one place. This is critically important considering the complexity of wealth with individual and multi-family offices. Data from BILL feeds into our solution, providing a single source of truth for real-time, on-demand financial data.

The movement of money and permissions all happen in BILL. The BILL transactions post in Asset Vantage seamlessly and get automatically entered into the right general ledger and entity—all with little to no manual effort. It also enables clients to be in sync with all their vendor lists and expense accounts and ensures that chart of accounts are in one place across families.

Does BILL help enhance AP security?

Security is enhanced with BILL. Prior to integrating, statements and other information were exchanged via email and other insecure platforms. Using BILL can eliminate the exchanges like these, and the use of paper checks, which are at high risk for fraud as we discussed earlier. The bank-level security of BILL ensures client data is safe in the cloud. 

How are your customers responding to BILL?

It's been exciting. Our clients are adopting it at a rapid rate. The BILL efficiency gains are of tremendous value for clients. Automating AP standardizes the process so that it’s not so people-dependent. The bill paying process is digitized. Review and approval workflows are automated, which means less manual work and up-to-the-minute data for accurate reporting. Clients don’t have to wait until the end-of-the-quarter cycle. Multi-family office and accounting firms have found they can scale with BILL and handle many more clients with the same team.

Do you have any advice for family offices and multi-family offices?

Worry less about convincing families to move to digital operations. Talk more about the benefits solutions like BILL and Asset Vantage offer, because they will outweigh concerns. Remember, there's a big wealth transfer going on. Baby boomers are moving their wealth to their heirs and younger generations do not want to work with paper. Automated AP can give you a competitive advantage to keep their business.

“Baby boomers are moving their wealth to their heirs and younger generations do not want to work with paper. Automated AP can give you a competitive advantage to keep their business.”

— Chirag Nanavati, Managing Director at Asset Vantage

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