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Matt Abar is rewarding loyal Techfi customers as beta period ends

The conversion to FinFolio Workstation 2010 will be free

Friday, May 14, 2010 – 5:48 AM by Brooke Southall
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Matt Abar: These guys are in a bad situation and it felt like the right thing to do.

Matt Abar is rewarding his most diehard followers, those who stuck with him and his software through a start-up, a merger, an orphaning and now another start-up.

Abar founded Techfi in 1998, built a customer base of about 450 advisory firms, and then sold out to Advent Software — a firm some advisors had chosen his software precisely to avoid. Abar was rewarded handsomely in the $23 million sale when he pocketed about $12 million.

Amazingly, a small band of followers never gave up on Techfi, even after Advent software discontinued servicing it in 2004 when it still had 278 users and Abar himself was waiting out a five year noncompete clause from his contract with Advent. [He spent some of that time driving fast cars and living in Las Vegas.] See: The executive Advent bought and buried is back with a vengeance

So as Abar launched his new company’s first product, FinFolio Workstation 2010 on May 8, he offered the remaining Techfi users the opportunity to switch to the new portfolio management system without paying conversion costs. The product will be available to users both in web-hosted and on-site form. The average conversion cost is about $20,000. See: FinFolio looks to offer unpreecedented flexibility and power, with an intuitive interface

Ballpark annual pricing

The ballpark annual pricing starts at $10,000 and increases based on the number of users and the number of custodial interfaces used by the advisory practice. Assets under management get figured into the price for firms managing more than $1 billion.

“These guys are in a bad situation, and it felt like the right thing to do,” he says.

Though being orphaned by your tech provider is bad enough, the situation for many of these users is actually more dire than that.

“When Advent discontinued Techfi’s products, they issued each user a final license key that expires sometime in 2010,” Abar says. “When the key expires, Techfi locks up and stops working. This means that every Techfi user needs to find another option and quickly. The kill-date is different for each user. I’ve talked to some users with keys that expire in June, some in September, and some in December — but nothing after 2010.”

Even after all these years, Abar knows of about 20-25 Techfi users through a Yahoo! Group, and he believes that there could be 20 more.

Immediate prospect list

The first ones to get the free conversion will be the six beta users of FinFolio WorkStation 2010 who still use Techfi. There are 12 beta users and about 25 additional advisors — some of whom are Techfi users — on the immediate prospect list.

“More than half of our beta and prospect list are current Techfi users; we’re focusing on them first due to the urgency of their soon-to-be-expiring license keys,” he says.

Abar is also making certain that there is no chance that his customers have to face the fear of their software going “poof” in an expiring key scenario.

“I think this expiring-key method is fairly standard practice in our industry,” he says. “Regardless, I’ve changed the way the licensing works with FinFolio. Even if the licensing server disappears, or clients stop paying us, the software doesn’t die on them – although it will nag them about renewing their license.”

Abar originally planned to launch his new product around the end of 2009 but it was a complex task.

“This is the biggest and most sophisticated software project I’ve ever worked on,” he says. “It took a bit longer than I’d thought but I’m extremely happy with the end result.”

The company has been focused on desktop implementations as the new software is in beta mode, but some advisors are using a web version. Abar says the company is a few weeks from launching clients in a full-service bureau model.

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