How to Find an Outsource Partner vs. an Outsource Vendor: An Interview with Linda Bready of Envestnet

Recently, I sat down with Linda Bready, Senior VP at Envestnet and Founder of B-Ready Outsourcing Solutions, to ask her about the best ways for advisors to find the right outsource partner for their needs. Linda brings a lot of experience in this area to the table: Envestnet serves as the outsource partner for many of advisory firms nationwide, and provides a wide array of services to these advisors, including ByAllAccounts’ data aggregation solutions. Here’s what Linda and I discussed:

What characteristics should one look for in a outsource partner vs. just a vendor?

The differences between an outsource vendor and an outsource partner are fairly easy to identify, but many advisors may not be aware of how to spot them.  A vendor provides services for a fee.  That applies to whatever service is being outsourced, whether it’s bookkeeping, compliance, performance reporting, or anything else.  An outsource partner, on the other hand, provides the service and more.

A partner is interested in your company as a whole: how you function, how you present your firm to clients and prospects, what you set as your goals and objectives. You and the partner are part of the same “team,” so the partner joins you in focusing on your growth plans and timelines. A good strategic partner will spend time and devote intellectual resources to trying to help you build your business.

Simply put, an outsource partner works with you, not for you.

What are some indicators that an outsourcer would be a good partner for you?

As with any business decision, do your due diligence.  Ask for references.  Make sure you have good communication between your office and the partner’s office. The two firms should have complementary cultures.  You should be just as comfortable telling your partner that you are pleased with their services as you are telling them that you have issues. Your firms’ mutual responsiveness to any issues, questions and concerns is paramount to a good relationship.

What are some warning signs that an outsourcer is not a good fit?

Don’t underestimate your gut reactions. If you are uncomfortable with a prospective outsourcer, even if you don’t know why, say so.  Chances are, the outsourcer is dealing with the same feelings.  Together, you can either resolve the issue that’s causing the discord, or decide on a better solution. 

In every case, make sure your outsourcer is responsive and direct in their communication with your office.

How can an advisor and outsourcer build a relationship based on trust?

The old adage “say what you mean and mean what you say” is really accurate here. Both firms should have a clear understanding of how to communicate with each other. They need to treat each other as both business partners and business clients. And they each need a good, basic understanding of what each side of the partnership is responsible for in order to concentrate on growth and moving forward.  

Furthermore, everyone understands that mistakes can happen. Having an agreed-upon process for dealing with problems—before they arise—makes a big difference. Both the advisor and outsourcer need to focus on prevention strategies and issue resolution rather than passing around blame.  We’re all professionals, let’s act like it.

What differentiates Envestnet |B-Ready outsourcing from other vendors?              

B-Ready provides highly-customizable services to our advisors.  We focus on each firm individually and wrap our business processes around their needs, rather than asking them to fit into our formats.  Our account team members are very proactive when it comes to finding efficiencies to scale our clients’ business processes. Communication is key; we are in contact with the majority of our advisors every day.

We interview our potential partners while they are interviewing us. If it doesn’t appear to be a good match both in business process and culture, we suggest a different course of action for them.

B-Ready Outsourcing Solutions, a division of Envestnet since 2010, manages and maintains your data and performance reporting with a virtual, full-service solution that is customized to fit your specific business and reporting requirements. The opinions expressed herein reflect our judgment as of the date of writing and are subject to change at any time. B-Ready reserves the right to add to, change, or eliminate any of the services listed herein. 

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