Customer Q&A: How to Successfully Drive Technology Change at Your Firm

February 6, 2024
Ridgeline Staff Writers
 min read

Ridgeline Head of Strategy Jack Lynch recently discussed being an agent of technology change on behalf of your firm with Brian Gibson, who oversees operations at Coho Partners in Berwyn, Pennsylvania. As a Ridgeline customer who has recently gone live, Brian has experienced firsthand what it’s like to transition to new tech from decades-old software and build internal support along the way.

Q. What was it like recommending Ridgeline to your firm after they’d spent 25 years with other vendors? 

A. When I joined the firm, I knew right away that the legacy system we were on made reporting and data analysis very difficult. I think there was appreciation from the leadership team that data is important. I had spent years evaluating different vendors, and nobody was good enough where I was going to stake my career on vouching for them. But then I met Ridgeline. 

Ridgeline is like the holy grail of everything that I was looking at. And the pedigree was really strong. I mean, this is not just some startup. This is a Dave Duffield startup. I remember talking to all their domain experts like [VP, Product Strategy] Ali Stewart who came from Factset and [CISO] Jeremy Hittle, who ran security for Workday. So this is like perfect technology. 

Q. What was the reaction of others at the firm when you proposed Ridgeline?

A. They were suspect for a long time. But you want to separate fact from emotion. 

We had months of conversations with the RL team. They were answering our questions, addressing our concerns, being open and honest, and not over-promising on things. They were very measured and thoughtful. So you start to bring more people into those conversations.

Q. How do you build a coalition with more skeptical team members?

A. You want to empower people to throw the flag and challenge them to poke holes in my hypothesis, “I think Ridgeline is a good product, what are your concerns?” Separating the platitudes and emotions from, “Technically speaking, what doesn’t this do that you’re doing today?” That was a big part of it. 

So bring them into the conversation as often as possible and give them the opportunity to say, “This is a deal breaker.” Now, that never materialized in a profound way. Any issues that have come up have been addressed. 

Q. What was it like in the time leading up to go-live? 

A. The go-live process was uneventful. You’re managing these huge things leading up to going live so you know what to expect and if something does go awry you know the response is going to be swift. We went live on January 8 and I remember a big weight being lifted off my shoulders and feeling remarkably calm and confident. Yeah, there are adjustments after you go live but they’re all manageable.

Q. What’s it like working with Ridgeline’s Customer Success team?

A. Our team - John McKinley, Matt Potvin, Dom Patterozzi - has been great. They sit between Ridgeline engineers thinking about the optimal way to design a system and practitioners who are conditioned to doing things a certain way and they have to translate that. They have a really tough job; I give them a ton of credit. They’ve been great at addressing our needs, pushing back where appropriate, and being champions for us. 

Q. What’s the first month on Ridgeline been like?

A. When you go live on a new system, you’re not fully adapted to it on day one. There’s a period where you’re adjusting your workflows and you uncover new efficiencies every day. 

My advice to anyone who is thinking about Ridgeline is to try to get live as soon as possible because that’s when the fun work starts. We’ve been on for three weeks and we’re starting to see changes.

Q. What operational improvements are you starting to see?

A. We had some manual integrations — I can retire those and not deal with them breaking, which they did on a somewhat frequent basis. Other integrations we’ve tightened up and they’re faster. 

We’re getting performance out quicker. We can now do the end of day process intraday so when the market closes, our day is done and we don't have to wait for anything else. And we’re going to pick up 2-3 days easily on the month-end process.

One of the things that attracted me to Ridgeline was getting faster access to data. It means faster response time to clients and makes it easier for us to be introspective about our business. The fact that everybody in our firm can access the data and it’s SaaS web-based, that’s huge. We used to have only five licenses, so we had a group chat for the “hey can you get out so I can get in?” — that kind of stuff just goes away. We’re giving access to information to everybody in the firm that we want. I’m a big believer that that's going to drive innovation here at Coho.

Q. What else are you excited about taking advantage of in Ridgeline?

A. One thing I’m excited about is Report Builder. It’s super powerful. Just being able to slice and dice your AUM whichever way you want on a daily basis, or being able to look at flows over a period of time. The world is your oyster within Ridgeline. Anything: clients trading activity, revenue — it’s all in there and all going to be reportable. However you want to see or orchestrate the data, you’ll be able to do that.

Q. Would you do it again? 

A. Yes, I absolutely would. Change is not easy; don’t plan on doing this thinking you’re going to be working less. You’re going to be working differently. There are times when it’s been stressful, but never concerning. It’s been a very good experience. 

Q. Ridgeline has now introduced our first set of generative AI capabilities to live customers. How is your Ridgeline’s AI strategy intersecting with your firm’s AI strategy?

A. I’m excited about being more introspective as a business, getting better, faster access to the data. You start layering in analytics on any data point within the system and it’s really the foundation for a robust enterprise risk management program. For firms of my size, that’s a difficult thing to build and Ridgeline is laying out the foundation for that to be really effective. 

I think about all of that and add AI on top of it — being able to prompt certain questions and queries and pull all of that information from this unified platform. I’m optimistic. It’s exciting to think about. 

Q. Any final thoughts for others thinking about moving to Ridgeline?

A. If you’re thinking about embarking on this — gauge your team’s capacity for risk. I had a strong executive leadership team that supported me. Separate fact from emotion, but don’t dismiss the sentiment within your firm; it’s a very powerful force. There may be times you need to lean on your executive team to back you to reinforce “We’re taking this risk and we’re being thoughtful about it.” 

I am hugely bullish on Ridgeline. I’m glad to be on the platform, and really excited about what these next few months are going to look like. 

If you’re interested in learning more about how Ridgeline can help your firm achieve its ambitions, let’s talk. Simply request a demo and someone will get in touch with you.

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