Cut to the chase
For Bell Partners, the biggest game changers are Juniper Square’s automated fundraising and eSignature capabilities. With those features in place, they materially improved the accuracy and completeness of their investor subscription documents and reduced the time needed to process subscriptions by at least 60%. Sending and receiving offering documents is a breeze and it’s easy to monitor where investors are in the subscription process. The online subscriptions and eSignature capability means they no longer waste hours trying to decipher handwriting. Senior management has more time to devote to higher impact activities for their business since they no longer have to manually sign hundreds of subscription packages for every fundraising effort.
“Overall, the effectiveness, and efficiency of our investor communications has drastically improved,” Strandberg said. Bell Partners’ previous investor portal had a 20% adoption rate. After introducing the Juniper Square portal, investor usage quickly shot up to 60% and has only continued to increase since then.
By automating the data integration between their investment management and core system, Bell Partners was able to translate their raw data into digestible, self-service data resources, which has enhanced the overall experience for both internal and external users.
Assets under management
Completed transactions since 2002
Apartment units managed
Established in 1976, Greensboro, North Carolina-based Bell Partners, Inc. is one of the country’s largest and most consistently recognized* apartment operators and renovators, with $5 billion in assets under management and 1,500 associates managing 63,000 high-quality multifamily communities across the United States. They provide a full range of services, including acquisitions and dispositions, construction, financing, property operations, accounting, risk management and related support. Committed to serving residents, partners, and investors, Bell Partners takes particular pride in their investment management expertise, which has helped them achieve a repeat investor rate of more than 80%.
Prior to the implementation of Juniper Square, the Bell Partners investor relations team was spending significant time in non-value-added activities like answering calls to provide commitment amounts and contribution totals to investors. In need of a new solution to create efficiencies and streamline processes, Tyson Strandberg, who oversees Bell Partners’ Investment Management platform and client experience, looked to the firm’s core value of ‘Prepare for the Future Today’ for inspiration.
To lay the groundwork for Bell’s long-term future success, they needed to upgrade their investment management and contact management platform to empower their investors with self-service options, provide the investment management team with tools to better manage investor communications, and, most importantly to them, create an internal and external front-end solution to present their back-end data in an organized and intuitive way.
One of Bell Partners’ best practices is to make new vendor selection a strategic, cross-functional initiative. As part of that, they name projects to build internal awareness and encourage stakeholder buy-in. This search was christened Project Bamboo since many characteristics of bamboo—strength, versatility, and longevity—aligned with what they were looking for in an investment management solution. They divided their requirements into must-have functional features and capabilities and what they describe as ‘soft’ criteria. The functional aspects included an enhanced investor portal user experience; fundraising automation and eSignature capabilities; a robust CRM with tracking, reporting and mobile device access; workflows for fundraising, document management, and reporting; and customized dashboard and reporting capabilities.
On the softer side, they were looking for a solution that was real estate-focused, had appealing aesthetics, and was easy to use and navigate. And they expected their chosen technology partner to be responsive, engaged, and have clearly established risk management policies and coverage. After an exhaustive, multi-month search, Bell Partners selected Juniper Square. According to Tyson, “Of the five solution-providers we considered, Juniper Square was the only one that checked off all of our functional and soft needs and the only one that met our fundraising automation and eSignature requirements.”
When we started looking for a new investment management and contact management platform, we considered five alternatives and Juniper Square was the shining star. In addition to being the only solution that offered all of the very important functional aspects we were looking for, they checked off all the softer aspects, too. Plus, Juniper Square far exceeded our expectations on timely and comprehensive communication.
Tyson Hammer Strandberg
Director of Client Relations
Integration with Bell’s systems of record for fund accounting and investor cash flow was a key objective for their implementation. Tyson explained, “Juniper Square helped us work through technical language barriers and scoping discussions and, ultimately, our core system now integrates with Juniper Square through an automatic overnight feed to deliver a best-in-class portal experience.”
She also described the implementation process, “The process from selection to launch was quick. But we also had some heavy integration and deployment asks, and Juniper Square worked with us after launch to make those happen, too. Now that we’ve reached a steady state, Juniper Square continues to be a great thought partner, regularly reaching out for our input on feature enhancements and continuously helping us improve how we use the technology.” When asked about best practices for a smooth implementation, Tyson said, “Communication and knowledge sharing was incredibly important to make our integration possible, and Juniper Square delivered.”
Bell Partners is extremely pleased with their decision to go with Juniper Square. Both internal teams and investors have expressed that the design, usability, and functionality of the portal exceeded their expectations. As Tyson puts it, “We feel like we’ve moved from the stone age to the 21st century.”
It wasn’t just the results that exceeded their expectations. As Tyson noted, “We’re often on the other side of the equation with our investors, so we understand and value the time and effort it takes to respond to an RFP and participate in a lengthy search. Juniper Square not only put its best foot forward during the RFP process, they continued to exceed our expectations throughout the entire implementation journey and beyond.”
Tyson summed it up, “Overall, the efficiency of our investor communications has drastically improved thanks to the innovative technology and the open communication and partnership with the Juniper Square team. We look forward to working with them as they continue to help transform the industry with innovative technology solutions and enable investment managers like us to improve investor relations and operate more efficiently.”
*Based on Preqin Global Real Estate Reports issued annually from 2014 through 2019, and live feed 2020 Preqin Data as of February 5, 2021.
Metrics as of 5/1/2022