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50 Best Companies to Watch 2019

An Interview with Dave O’Brien, Agreement Express CEO: We’ve Reimagined the Possibilities in the Wealth and Payments Industries with Respect to Underwriting and Onboarding, and are Redefining the Industry Standard for What the Employee and Customer Experience Should be in these Environments’

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“Our commitment to ‘wowing the customer’ means we’re proactively pushing the boundaries of our own product to make our solution stronger and more relevant.”

Emerging technologies are revolutionizing how financial institutions conduct client onboarding and approval processes across their organizations. The impetus for adopting technology solutions is the need for firms to drive a better, more seamless customer experience (CX), while reducing operational inefficiencies at the same time.

In light of the foregoing, we’re thrilled to present Agreement Express.

The Agreement Express software product is an end-to-end digital onboarding solution that allows customers to enhance client relationships with seamless approval and onboarding processes.

The company was incorporated in 2001 and is headquartered in Vancouver.

Dave O’Brien, Agreement Express CEO, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.

Q. Why was the company started? And how did you expand your company and its offerings over the years?

It’s pretty simple, really. We saw a problem and we aimed to provide a meaningful, effective solution. The wealth and payments industries are complex, convoluted, and all too often, not employee- or customer-centric. Organizations in these industries, along with their clients have been forced to deal with the status quo — operating within inefficient processes that stall growth, impede differentiation and frustrate great experiences. The team at Agreement Express studied the wealth and payments markets and set out to reimagine and reshape the environments of these ecosystems.

Our dedication to innovation stems from our passion for constant improvement. As the industry evolves, we need to shift. We continually enhance our solution (with monthly product releases) — striving always to remove roadblocks, alleviate pains and reduce the frustrations that often come during underwriting, onboarding, and other back-office processes. We’re doing this by making an extremely complex, convoluted and cumbersome experience appear easy and seamless to our customers and their clients by providing a sophisticated and innovative technology solution.

Q. An organization is defined by its core values. What are your company’s core values and how are they helping you to succeed?

Our core values at Agreement Express are: Wow the Customer, Step Up, Own It, Be a Team, Be Curious & Creative, and Have Fun.

At the center of everything is our customer. In order to truly deliver an exceptional experience we focus 100 percent on delivering relevant solutions that solve real problems. This means we check our egos at the door, we raise the bar for ourselves and each other, take accountability for our actions and decisions, think outside the box and embrace the adventure that comes with being part of the ever-changing B2B SaaS world. We work hard and work smart, and have a great time doing it.

Q. Any company, big or small, must have a sense of authenticity and originality to succeed, is your company a leader or a follower?

Agreement Express is a leader. The domain expertise of our employees is unparalleled. No one has focused on the issue of true end-to-end customer onboarding longer and harder than Agreement Express. We’ve reimagined the possibilities in the wealth and payments industries with respect to underwriting and onboarding, and are redefining the industry standard for what the employee and customer experience should be in these environments.

Q. What kind of responses have you received from your consumers over the years? How have they motivated you to shape your offerings/grow the company?

What we have set out to do is tremendously complicated. In an effort to make it appear easy and feel effortless to our customers, we’ve implemented various models for dev and implementation. We’ve fallen down in our early stages and have gone through some growing pains in the maturation process. And we’ve learned a lot from these mistakes. Disappointing customers in the past has led us to a shift in the way we operate. We now have a culture that embodies our customer-centric philosophy, and have made one of our Core Values ‘Wow the Client.’

Q. “Earning trust and respect of consumers is through consistent focus on delivering high quality in all of our actions.” How do you interpret this statement?

That statement is referring to the posture that an organization assumes — an attitude and belief system. And it’s accurate. Earning trust takes work. It’s all about asking what we can give; facilitating breakthrough conversations through customer education, letting customers know what they can count on, owning our mistakes, offering meaningful solutions, and being honest about our capabilities. These are not action items that we check off a list — these are principles that guide who we are as a company and how we approach and interact with our customers.

Q. Fostering a culture of feedback is crucial to the success of every organization. How is this true with your company?

We foster a culture of feedback in two primary ways. First, we proactively seek feedback from team members across the organization. We do this through surveys, all-company meetings, cross-departmental meetings and performance reviews. Understanding where and how we can improve individually and as a team is critical to the on-going health of an organization. With a posture of respect, we speak directly and transparently to one another about what’s working well and what needs to improve. Second, we seek feedback from our customers, partners, and organizations that haven’t purchased our solution. We’re in the business of delivering truly relevant solutions that solve actual problems. So we go straight to the source and ask our customers what challenges they continue to face and what outcomes they’re hoping to achieve. We speak to our partners to understand more deeply how our relationship can be an asset to our mutual customers. And, last, we speak with past customers and potential clients to gain insights into what we could do better and how we could add more value.

As I mentioned in our core values, there’s no room for ego. We don’t suppose to ‘know it all’ so we dedicate ourselves to learning through listening.

Q. About adaptability, how do you stay relevant to the consumer interests and needs in this highly volatile market and what are the factors that help your company to compete on a global platform?

In order to compete, we need to differentiate. We look for unsolved problems and solve them; we look for poorly executed solutions and do it better. We accomplish this by being students of the game and experts in the markets that we serve — we understand intimately our customers, our competition and our challenges. We solicit feedback from our customers to see how we can provide a stronger, more relevant solution, we use internal and external sources to track and analyze information so we can make informed, data-driven decisions, and we look ahead to anticipate market shifts and deliver solutions that our customers might not even know they need.

Q. Do you have any new products ready to be launched?

Agreement Express remains one SaaS solution for both payments and wealth customers. However, we have a robust product roadmap with some really exciting product enhancements that include bleeding edge functionality. Our commitment to ‘wowing the customer’ means we’re proactively pushing the boundaries of our own product to make our solution stronger and more relevant.

Q. Where do you see your company a couple of years from now?

Agreement Express is focused to become the unquestioned leader in onboarding in the wealth and payments industries with a rapidly growing presence in North America.

“Our mission is to enable financial services firms to grow revenue and profitability, drive down servicing costs, simplify compliance, and optimize the onboarding experience.”