An Interview with Jason Gabauer of Halstatt

I recently conducted a number of interviews with thought leaders in the finance and cloud ERP space and these discussions led to some great customer stories. Some consistent themes continually came up around:

  • The time required for consolidation
  • The errors and pain caused by having to share data between multiple complex Excel spreadsheets
  • The pain and cost caused by the requirement to support not just the accounting system but also the analytics, shared dashboards, and portfolio systems not to mention the underlying hardware
  • Chart of accounts getting out of control
  • Compliance

I always ended each interview with the question, “What would you like us provide more information on?” The consistent response I got was,“ More detailed information about what customers similar to me are doing with Intacct and how they are doing it.”

This blog series of customer interviews is designed to showcase exactly that. One of my favorite conversations was with Jason Gabauer of Halstatt who fully uses every aspect of the Intacct.

Ian Howells: Jason not only knows about the wealth management business  but he is also and Intacct MVP  - So for those of you in the audience who not only want to know what Jason has done, but how he has done it we will be seeing a live system and discussing the use of:

  • Entities
  • Charts of Accounts and Accounts Groups
  • Statistical accounts
  • Dimensions
  • Dashboards

Jason, can you tell our audience a bit about about Halstatt and your role there?

Jason Gabauer: Halstatt is a family-owned investment firm based in Naples, Florida. The owners are part of the Barron Collier legacy; the firm that was built upon a strong record of successful real estate development. Halstatt has expanded from real estate to additionally:

  • Real Estate Private Equity – combining Halstatt capital with other investors
  • Private Equity - where Halstatt invests in large and established businesses, small and growing companies, or early stage startup opportunities

IH:  Jason, as well as running Finance at Halstatt, is also an Intacct MVP so we will be discussing not only what Jason is doing at Halstatt but how and why he is doing it. For the technical among you we’ll discuss the use of dimensions, statistical accounts, and account groups later. Jason, can you tell me what kind of problems were you having?

JG: We were having major pains consolidating across entities. It was taking me 80 to 100 hours to get the consolidated reports and board book that we needed. On top of this our Chief Investment Officer was spending a similar amount of time doing analytics, calculating for example the fair market value, Cash-on-cash, IRR and assets under management for the board book.

Also, we did not have a way to effectively share our Excel spreadsheets so that we could consistently integrate our accounting and portfolio reports with the latest shared data and analysis. The whole process was so painful we were just looking back at what we had done not looking forwards.

IH: At a high-level what were the key things that you were looking for from an accounting system when you chose Intacct?

JG: In an ideal world we were looking for:

  • A simple way to consolidate across funds
  • A way to dice and slice the data without IT support
  • A single shared system that our chief investment officer and myself could share up-to-date accounting and portfolio data in, in a consistent and integrated way
  • A way to get an integrated review of our financials, our assets under management and track our key metrics
  • And cost was on the issue. We needed to get value

IH: So now that you've used the system for some time, what are the big things you're able to do now that you were not able to do before?

JG: The first major thing was, through continuous consolidation, we were able to literally reduce the time to get a consolidated view across funds for the board book from over 100 hours to minutes.

Not only could we consolidate data in minutes, we could do it at any point in time when we needed. We were able to ask “why” more often. And we can look at more data more often and proactively spend more time analyzing and planning to make better decisions.

IH: You’ve used the phrase “more data more often.” What is the kind of data you're looking at and what are the reports you either value the most or use on a daily basis?

JB: On my financial dashboard I have:

  • Balance Street - Overall and by Location
  • Income statement
  • Budget versus plan

On my portfolio dashboard I have:

  • Analysis by fund
  • Condensed
  • Over Time

And I track the key metrics:

  • AUM
  • IRR
  • Cash-on-Cash
  • Current Consolidated Cash
  • Notes Payable
  • Net Income YTD
  • Net Income MTD

IH: Regarding benchmarking, one of the interesting things about the area you are working in is that you were able to do a lot of research before-hand about how other people had approached the problem, through the Fox Family Exchange. How would you summarize the benefits that you've gained and how would you compare them to the approaches that other people have taken?

JG: Obviously consolidation across funds in minutes is massive. We also did a lot of research on the approaches that other people taken. We looked at who was using an on-premises approach or a cloud approach. Our approach is one tenth of the cost of the on-premises approach that other members of the Fox Family Exchange have taken. Now we are able to do with two people what others need five or more people. We did a detailed analysis of the cost of cutting a check and found that it previously cost $36. We reduced this to $3.96 using AMEX. This has a significant positive effect on the return we get from our funds.

We also used Intacct consulting so we didn’t have to spend time undoing what we didn’t understand the first time around.

IH: One of the interesting things I found about your approach is that you have to have an accounting system - everyone does. But you use Intacct for a lot more than that.

So you used Intacct for accounting, analytics, dashboarding. and tracking your portfolio. I know that you have some strong views on the benefits of this approach…

JG: We are measured on rate of return and every dollar we spend is a dollar off that return.

Halstatt is very focused on getting the functionality we need at the price we need, and when you look at certain portfolio management systems they are very expensive and we do not need 90% of the reports they provide for our type of portfolio. The less systems we have the better and the less systems we have to install and maintain on-premises the better. No-one with under a billion dollars of assets under management is going to buy an accounting system, and a separate analytics system or data warehouse and a separate portfolio system –the only one that is not optional is accounting.

IH: And going forward, what are your plans on using Intacct?

JG: We plan to use Intacct for real estate allocations and also Intacct Collaborate.

IH: Jason, if you had one tip for Intacct users, what would that be?

JG: I would remind people that it’s about moving from using data to report on what your business has done in the last three months to using Intacct to drive your business forwards for the next three months. And, before you look for more software, ask yourself can my Intacct do this for me? Because it probably can!

If you want to read more, Intacct developed The Data Driven CFO whitepaper, which can be found here: https://online.intacct.com/rs/473-QSL-641/images/wp_driving_performance_financial_services.pdf

To listen to Ian's full interivew with Jason, see here: https://online.intacct.com/rs/473-QSL-641/images/Customer_Success_Halstatt_Interview.mp4

[ Published: July 25, 2017 ]