Posted by Matt Register

We had a chance to sit down with Craig Wietz, CEO of First Rate, to talk about the software business and how his software can ensure profitability for wealth management firms.

Please excuse any typos in out hasty transcript.


Matt Register: Hey guys, welcome back to the show, Texas Business Radio. We are at the Irving Convention Center at Los Colinas in Irving, Texas at the Vistage Executive Summit 2017 for Dallas. If you’re trying to grow your business in the DFW area. I cannot think of a better place you need to be than right here, right now. So, we’re bringing you the best of the Vistage Executive Summit and we’re going to jump right into it. I’m Matt Register your host, here with Jay Curry. What’s going on?

Jay Curry: Well, this is just a super event. I mean real quality CEO’s, great stories, we were just having a ball.

Matt Register: We certainly are. Craig Wietz is the president of First Rate. Craig welcome to the show, sir.

Craig Wietz: Thank you Matt. Thank you Jay.

Matt Register: So First Rate. What do you do and who do you do it too?

Craig Wietz: So, First Rate is a… in general terms, we would call us a software vendor. But I would say we are actually are a lot more than that. We are a trusted adviser on behalf our clients. We sell to other businesses that are in the wealth management business that are basically trying to provide reporting and information to their customers. So wealth is one of those things. Its something that’s very personal to all of us. You know, if we go to a party we’ll talk about our kids, we will talk about our health issues, we will talk about problems that we may have at work but wealth is not one of those things.

Jay Curry: Not talking about our bank account.

Craig Wietz: We are not going to talk about bank accounts, right? And so we’re helping… So, if you give your money over to somebody to manage that wealth. You’re going to be… it’s going to be somebody you can trust. And so we’re helping those providers be able to give accurate and trustworthy information to their clients.

Matt Register: No doubt. And so this is a software is a service. You guys developed this stuff. Talk to me a little bit about process.

Craig Wietz: So, well, the… it actually… the founder the business is named Dave Stone. He actually built this from a legacy firm and had some experience doing that. Formed his corporation on his own and basically helped to service other wealth management firms that would need this kind of service. So, it’s been…

Jay Curry: It’s been around a while, right?

Craig Wietz: It’s been around for 25 years. We just celebrated our 25th anniversary.

Jay Curry: So it’s good, solid, stable, proven.

Craig Wietz: Yes, it’s has been very stable and we’ve had enhanced it, we’ve evolved over the years as the industry has changed.

Matt Register: Platforms and technology has changes as well.

Craig Wietz: Yep, yep, yep. When we started off, we were running it and you know, we had mainframes that we were running our software on. Now as the client server technology has taken hold we’ve evolved to that. Now we’re in the cloud. You know, it just has evolved as the technology has evolved also.

Jay Curry: Your clients though, are… this is a B to B place. Your clients are the money managers and you’re providing the reports that they’re giving to their customers.

Craig Wietz: That is correct. That is correct. Yes. So we’re… And again, so, they’re using this information. Ultimately, the end client has to be able to judge whether they’re on track to their goals that they have for investing. Or just kind of know where they’re at at that point in time and helping track against how their performance has been against either benchmarks or just their own personal goals.

Jay Curry: Most of that’s pretty standard. You know, I mean that doesn’t change a lot but everything else around your industry has got to be changing all the time. For example security. Holy smokes!

Craig Wietz: Yeah, yeah. So, we all know it seems like every day we’re hearing stories of people that are you know having their information hacked and losing information to people that are trying to steal that. And we certainly are very sensitive to that. For on behalf of our clients. Basically if a client gives us their information, we’re held to the same scrutiny that they are. So, basically if we lose their information, then our client gets in trouble. And so we have to go through and we do our own audits every year on our own and then we also provide the ability for clients to come in and audit us any time they want. They can do penetration tests and they can they can do anything… any testing that they want to do just to confirm that the security is up to the standards that they would expect.

Jay Curry: Now, Matt mentioned it’s software as a service but you have another platform too. They can put it on their software or their equipment.

Craig Wietz: So, clients can install it at their location and put it in their own data center or we have our own hosting center. Also, if a client wants to outsource that, we will host it for them. And then we also have a back office group that will reconcile the information. So, one of the key things to make sure that the information being provided is accurate. And so we have a whole back office group that is experienced in making sure that data that we receive from the books of record is accurate. And we go through a set of steps just to make sure that that’s the case, before we let clients produce the reports.

Matt Register: As we’re talking to Craig Wietz, president of First Rate in Arlington. Talk to me a little bit about the regulatory environment and some of the changes that have happened. So over the last administration there was a tremendous amount of regulation that came on play.

Craig Wietz: Sure.

Matt Register: How did that impact the way you guys operate?

Craig Wietz: So for us what is… Our clients are very much impacted on that because basically it’s introduced an increased level of sensitivity and an increased level of making sure that they are basically managing the money that in the best interests of their clients. And we look at that as an opportunity to help our clients be able to demonstrate that. Because on the whole, while there are some bad players in the industry. On the whole most people are trying to do a good job on behalf of their clients. And… but what they don’t have a very good way of doing, is demonstrating that. And so what we’ve been able to do is, as a result of these increased regulations, be able to enhance our software and provide some additional tools for them to be able to monitor their whole book business and be able to demonstrate either to regulators or to clients if need be, mostly is used internally, to be able to demonstrate that they’re managing the money according to the regulations and according… in the best interest of the client themselves. And so that helps surface things that could be a problem. That they maybe need to address with an individual manager. Or it could be an issue where maybe they’re a little too concentrated in a particular security. They should diversify more. These tools will help them be able to surface that and not have to wait till it’s too late. Basically to address the situation.

Matt Register: No doubt, well, I don’t know if you have noticed but we do have a new administration.

Craig Wietz: Yes.

Matt Register: And that new administration seems to be a fan of change.

Craig Wietz: Yes.

Matt Register: Right?

Craig Wietz: Yes.

Matt Register: What are you seeing on the horizon that will affect your business. As… because I’m sure you’re talking with everything you do.

Craig Wietz: Sure.

Matt Register: To figure out what’s coming.

Craig Wietz: Sure.

Matt Register: What are you seeing and what are you doing about it now?

Craig Wietz: Sure. So, you know, the atmosphere with the new administration has been on an overall trend to kind of back off on a lot of these regulations. But what we’re seeing is that there is still… this is still something that good providers of wealth management will still want to incorporate many of these oversight practices to just demonstrate that they’re doing the best on behalf of their clients. So, even though the government may back off a lot of these regulations. They still understand that this is really something that’s in their best interest. That’s really something that’s a benefit to their customer and it’s something that had just helped give them this oversight. So…

Matt Register: And a differentiator for them versus their competition I would guess.

Craig Wietz: Exactly, exactly. And they can use that as a differentiator. Yes, that is correct.

Matt Register: All right wonderful. Craig, what is easiest way to get in touch should somebody want.

Craig Wietz: The best way to get in touch with us is at our Web site. www.firstrate.com and you’ll see a lot of stories. We have a lot of use case stories, a lot of white papers, a lot of just information about what we’re doing in the industry today.

Matt Register: Interesting stuff. Firstrate.com. We’re going to have a link from texasbusinessradio.com. Guys, if you’re driving and don’t want to take notes, fully understand, we’re going to have links to everybody we’re talking about right there on our Web site. Craig Wietz, president of First Rate. Craig, thank you very much for joining us.

Craig Wietz: Thank you Matt. Thank you Jay.

Matt Register: And guys we’re just getting warmed up. We’re here at the Vistage Executive Summit at the Irving Convention Center at los Colinas here in Irving, Texas. Vistage Executives Summit is a wonderful… 800 CEOs in the same room. Guys, if you’re want to grow your company there’s not a better place to be, than right here. We’ve got to pay a couple of bills. We’re going to be right back after this. You don’t even have time to go anywhere. We’ll be right back.

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About the Author
Matt Register

Matt Register

In addition to hosting "Texas Business Radio," Matt is an investment banker and serial entrepreneur from Montgomery, Texas. He is the owner of RREA Media and Register Real Estate Advisors and a Managing Director and Principal at Corporate Finance Associates. He has a BS from the United States Military Academy at West Point and an MBA from Rice University in Houston. You can read more about Matt HERE.

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