FAQs about IT support for RIAs: RIA Tech Talk Episode #2

Welcome to RIA Tech Talk with Todd Darroca and David Kakish, President of RIA WorkSpace. In this podcast series, we address the most important IT challenges faced by Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) firms.

You need tailored solutions

One of the biggest IT issue we see with RIAs is that they don’t have an IT partner that’s a good fit.  Generally, their IT support fits into 1 of 3 categories:

  1. Local IT Providers: Many RIAs engage with local IT providers unfamiliar with the unique needs of RIAs. Despite your smaller team sizes, RIAs require cybersecurity and IT compliance comparable to larger enterprises. Local IT providers often don’t understand this.  
  2. Specialized IT Providers: Some RIAs who are working with industry-specialized IT providers face issues of poor customer service and delayed responses.
  3. Large IT Providers: RIAs working with large IT providers suitable for enterprises face neglect or inadequate support due to their smaller size. An RIA with under 25 employees are often not a priority for these large IT providers.


FAQs about working with RIA WorkSpace

Why is RIA WorkSpace different than other IT providers?

RIA WorkSpace offers a comprehensive suite of services, acting as a one-stop-shop for IT needs. We provide managed IT services, cybersecurity, help desk support, and IT compliance, with a focus on assigning dedicated teams to ensure personalized and efficient support.

What sets RIA WorkSpace apart is their understanding of the unique challenges faced by RIAs. Regardless of firm size, they provide an enterprise-level platform and cybersecurity measures, offering individualized attention and making them a strategic partner for RIAs.

What are the costs to work with RIA WorkSpace?

RIA WorkSpace primarily serves firms with 5 to 30 employees, catering to the specific needs of this range. The pricing structure is transparent, with a fixed monthly fee of $145 (2023) per employee, providing simplicity and predictability.

How does the transition to RIA WorkSpace work?

Transitioning to RIA WorkSpace is a streamlined process, involving pre-kickoff calls, data synchronization, and a final cutover or go-live date. The emphasis is on transparency and handholding to minimize downtime and ease clients through the transition.

Does RIA WorkSpace offer onsite support?

While onsite support is available, the trend has shifted towards remote support for efficiency. RIA WorkSpace boasts impressive response times, logging emergency tickets within five minutes and responding within 30 minutes, showcasing dedication to swift issue resolution.

The human element is an important part of our approach, with a dedicated team of under 20 individuals providing personalized assistance. Assigned teams, comprising a primary support engineer, a technical account manager, and an IT manager, ensure holistic and strategic IT solutions.

Listen To The Audio:
Read The Transcript:

Todd Darroca (00:10):

Hello and welcome. I’m Todd Darroca and I’m here with David Kakish, the president of RIA Workspace. And we’re going to spend a next few minutes going over the frequently asked questions that we get from an RIA, like yours. So before we dive into the questions, I want to bring David in here on the conversation. And David, what’s the really big problem for the RIA that’s reaching out to you?

David Kakish (00:36):

Yeah, sounds good. Thanks Todd. So you’re generally, if you’re an RIA and you’re reaching out to us and we’re talking, you generally fall in one of three camps. Number one, you’re probably working with a local IT provider that doesn’t understand the unique challenges of your RIA. And what I mean by that is you might have 5, 10, 15 employees, but your requirements for IT compliance and cybersecurity are that of a really big business. And it’s not that the local IT provider doesn’t care about cybersecurity and IT compliance, they just don’t realize that you have millions of dollars in a U m and your requirements are like that of a big business or an enterprise. And so that kind of gets lost. So that’s the first camp or the second camp. We’re seeing this a lot lately is you’re working with working with an IT provider that specializes in working with RIAs.


The challenge is their customer service, their response time is just terrible and you and your employees, you’re being ignored, you’re being underserved. We’re actually seeing that quite a bit in our industry right now. And then the third one, and this is a distant third one, but you’re working with a very large IT provider that’s actually really good. But the challenge and the problem is again, you’re 5, 10, 15 employees and they really want to work with clients that have a hundred plus employees. So once again, you’re ignored or underserved. And so the message I talked to prospective clients is, listen, you as an RIA with 10 employees or whatever that number is, you’re very different than that business across town across the street that has 10 employees because again, you have millions in a u m,

Todd Darroca (02:15):


David Kakish (02:16):

Don’t. And so while you might be small from a headcount perspective or your requirements for IT, compliance, cybersecurity, and even productivity is like that of a big business. And maybe just a quick example that I’ll share and we can get into

Todd Darroca (02:30):

Questions story here.

David Kakish (02:32):

So one of the things that we do for our clients during the onboarding process is something called data loss prevention, which is basically saying, Hey, look, if I work for your RIA and I send out an email with a social security number or account number, bank account number or anything like that, it’ll automatically detect that encrypted and send it out and then notify your chief compliance officer. So we do that as a baseline during the onboarding process. And I’m amazed, I would say over 90% of RIAs that reach out to us don’t have something like that set up in place or they’ve got some kind of a patchwork. So again, I don’t want to get into too much of what we do, but you generally follow in one of those three camps and there are frequently asked questions that yeah, I would love the answer for prospective clients that might be exploring working with us.

Todd Darroca (03:18):

Yeah, well, let’s just jump right into those. The FAQs are frequently asked questions that you get. And so first question that I’m seeing here is what’s included in your services? Can you kind of give us a little bit of insight into that?

David Kakish (03:32):

Sure, sure. Yeah, so we’re essentially a one-stop shop for everything that’s IT related. So think managed IT services, think cybersecurity, think help desk, think IT compliance. And so our solution includes and we emphasize an assigned team that’s going to support you, an enterprise platform cloud platform that’s powered by Microsoft. And then we give you a dedicated team that’s assigned to work with you regardless of your size. And that’s something our clients really enjoy working with us. Obviously cybersecurity backup and disaster recovery, IT compliance, and then regular reporting and auditing of your IT environment. Again, the whole idea is again, and I keep using the numbers, 5, 10, 25, what most RIAs are from a headcount that we work with. We have bigger and smaller, but that’s kind of the number. The idea is you don’t want to have a specialist for cybersecurity and help desk. And so that one-stop shop where we provide all that.

Todd Darroca (04:34):

Nice. The next question I’ve heard a lot of is why should they work with RIA workspace specifically? How are you different than that local IT provider they’ve got in their neighborhood or down the road?

David Kakish (04:47):

Yeah, that’s a great question. We look at RIAs as being the small giants in the financial services industry, and we love working with that RIA with five employees, 15 employees, 25 employees. That’s sort of our sweet spot and we do that really well. And it kind of goes back to what I just said earlier, which is again, you might be an RIA with five employees, 10 employees, but your requirements for IT compliance for cybersecurity and productivity are like that of a big business. And that local IT provider just doesn’t wrap their head around that at all. It’s like, again, it’s not that these things are not important. They don’t realize that they’re exponentially more important for you. And so that’s what we’re providing. So we’re providing an assigned team, we’re providing a enterprise, a big business platform and cybersecurity to your RIA regardless of how small you are. And we’ve been providing that since 2007 and we understand the unique needs of your RIA in working with you.

Todd Darroca (05:52):

So can you tell me what typical size of a firm does RIA a workspace work with? I know you’ve kind of touched on it a little bit in the first two kind of FAQs there, but kind give us a real specific if you can. Yeah,

David Kakish (06:05):

I would. I’d say probably 80% of our clients fall between that five to 30 employees. And for whatever reason, RIAs tend to plateau around 20 to 30 employees. Obviously we have clients that are much bigger than that. And then we have RIAs where it’s a solo one or two people, but our sweet spot is sort of that if you think about that five to 30 employees where a lot of RIAs sort of end up being, and it’s just difficult to find a partner that can really support you, that understands your unique challenges at that number. But again, five to 30 is like our sweet spot and we have a lot, we’ve got a base package up to five employees. So whether you’re 1, 2, 3, 4, it covers up to five employees. And then we have clients that are over 30 employees, but I don’t know why. But the RIAs from a headcount, I think what happens, Todd is they all want to increase their a U m, but they don’t want to increase their employees, right? Yeah,

Todd Darroca (07:12):

That’s true. So let’s now talk on that cost. So obviously it’s always a question that comes up and fair enough. So how much do your services typically cost? What am I looking at?

David Kakish (07:25):

Sure. And we try to be really transparent and what we want to do, and I apologize for all the lawyers that

Todd Darroca (07:32):

Are out there,

David Kakish (07:33):

We don’t want you to feel like every time you talk to us, we send you a big fat bill. So our pricing structure is all inclusive and it’s a fixed monthly fee. And at this stage of the, and this might change at this stage of the game, we’re basically it’s $145 per employee per month. And I’m going to put a quick disclaimer, this might change in the coming years and things like that, but that’s

Todd Darroca (07:56):

Kind of where we’re

David Kakish (07:56):

At right now and it’s all inclusive. And then we want to make sure you have the right Microsoft subscription because this is based on the Microsoft platform, but again, it’s a fixed fee. It’s all inclusive. We’re not trying to break it down. We’re trying to make, what we do is complicated enough, we don’t need to have this complicated matrix for pricing. So

Todd Darroca (08:18):

At this stage

David Kakish (08:19):

Of the game, it’s $145 per employee per month. Again, that might change, but we really believe in just a fixed fee and we keep it for a very long time.

Todd Darroca (08:29):

You’re inevitably going to have that person that’s going to go, David, you said it was this much on this recording, so remember people,

David Kakish (08:35):


Todd Darroca (08:35):

Could change right now, 1 45. Okay, that’s good. So let’s talk about when somebody hires you or asks you to help out. So can you give an example or tell us about that transition process? And I know for many, there’s always concern about downtime because if you’re down, your business isn’t running or things are just stuck. So can you tell me a little about that transition process and if there is any downtime in what that experience would look like?

David Kakish (09:02):

Yeah, so this is a great question, Todd. And this is one of the biggest fears that a lot of potential clients have, which is like, look, we’re not happy with what we have right now. We know we need to change, but we’re really afraid of the transition.


I understand where they’re coming from because they’ve had experiences in the past where they were not able to work or be productive for hours or days or even weeks sometimes where they’re still having ongoing issues. So I will say this with each client, we will talk with them and kind of explain in more detail. I’m going to sort of keep it at a general level. Our process actually is very systematized. It’s very methodical. We’re typically onboarding two to three clients per month on a regular basis. And the way that we actually do that, after you agree to work with us and you sign the order form, we’re going to have something called a pre-K out phone call. On that call we’re saying, Hey Todd, thank you for the business. We look forward to working with you and with your team. Here’s what you can expect in the coming weeks and months.


We paint the picture for you and then we open it up for questions, and then we want to start getting the documentation from you. That’s like that first step after you agree to work with us. That’s the first call we have. The second call we have is the kickoff call. That’s the big date where we start supporting you and supporting your team. What we’re actually doing is if you’re running on a different platform, let’s just say, I don’t know, Rackspace or something like that, that’s where we begin to synchronize all the data in the background. So you’re still working like you work every day and we’re syncing everything. And then within 30 days, what we’re going to do is we’re going to have a cutover or go live date from Rackspace to running on the Microsoft platform. And the quote downtime, that’s where we agree with you, and we say, look, Thursday at 4:00 PM we want you to stop accessing your files and folders because we want to do a final sync.


So that Friday morning at 8:00 AM you’re up and running with this platform. The only real downtime, and it’s not really downtime because we need to have the final sync, is that Thursday night into that Friday morning, you’re up and running that Friday morning. Obviously there’s a lot of details that we do on the backend, but from your perspective, and we have an onboarding team that’s holding your hand throughout the whole process. So again, the first step is you would sign the order form to say, Hey, David, we want to work with you. And then right after that, we’d schedule a pre kickoff call to basically welcome you, let you know what to expect, and then after that we schedule a kickoff meeting. That’s where we start supporting you and syncing the data and things like that. And then we’ll have a go live date. And so that’s kind of the breakdown of how we do it. And we have a team that just specializes in and holding your hand because we know how scary that experience can be. And if you want, we’ll give you some testimonials and talk to clients what it’s like, but that’s what that process is like. So Todd, I don’t know if you had any follow up questions on that.

Todd Darroca (12:12):

Yeah, so it’s great that you can hold my hand from afar making sure the data goes back and forth and that I have as minimal downtime as possible. It’s always a scary thing when data gets transferred. So can you send somebody onsite to help support that transition to make even feel more comfortable? Or do I get any kind of in-person I have questions or something that goes wrong? Is there somebody onsite that I can talk to?

David Kakish (12:39):

Yeah, so that’s two questions, right? You’re asking about, Hey, what about onsite support journey, onboarding process? And then what about onsite support after the onboarding period? So let’s talk about the onboarding piece. Yes, we can. So if you want us to have somebody that’s onsite, we have a network of vetted partners and we could have somebody onsite. I can tell you in this last year, we haven’t had to do that a single time because we’re doing so much of this remote and we don’t need to be on onsite. But if you’re more comfortable and you want to have somebody on site, we can do that. There’s an additional feed that goes along with that. So that’s from an onboarding perspective, but again, in this last year, I can’t think of even in the last two years, think of a single time where we provided onsite support during the onboarding process simply because it wasn’t needed. Okay,

Todd Darroca (13:32):

Got it.

David Kakish (13:34):

And so

Todd Darroca (13:34):

What can I expect from the response time from your support team? What’s the response time? And if I do have a request that comes in, am I going to be waiting for hours some big not to be named internet companies do to me when I’m struggling or

David Kakish (13:49):


Todd Darroca (13:50):

That experience? Yeah.

David Kakish (13:52):

So in terms of response time, let me just talk about, and this might be one of the other questions that we get, which is, hey, how do we contact your team? And then maybe I’ll talk about the response type. So we’re real people, you can email us.

Todd Darroca (14:10):

You’re not AI yet. No, no, no, no, no.

David Kakish (14:14):

So you can call us, you can email us. You can use a web-based portal. We are human beings regardless of what method you use. Some people prefer to pick up the phone and call us and hey, that’s fantastic. You’re going to get a live person, you’re going to be talking to one of our team members. If you do that, if you email us, and I would say over 90% of our clients just prefer to send an email to help desk, that seems to be what they naturally gravitate towards. We’re going to have a human eye that’s actually going to look at your request that you just submitted, review it, respond to you and say, Hey, Todd, we got this. Thank you. We have this scheduled and give you more specifics. And none of this really goes into a black hole because we keep track of what time did we get the request and when we responded and when we resolved that and did that.


So that’s how you contact our team. Now, the response times we’ve got, we have really five different categories of response times, but the real ones that people want to know about, it’s like, Hey, listen, if I have an emergency, what’s going on? So if there’s an emergency, we’re logging that ticket within five minutes and our SS l a or our response time commitment is within 30 minutes. In a real world scenario, we’re actually working on that almost real time. Hey, we have an internet outage or we have something that’s affecting everybody sometimes we even know before you do. And so we’re typically working on that real time where we have an engineer that’s working on that, and we can do that because we give you an assigned team, if you remember, we’re not like, Hey, you might talk to any of our 20 employees. We give you an assigned team that works with you. The other big question we get is like, Hey, look, what’s your response time for just a regular, like, Hey, I can print to printer A but not printer B or my computer is low. And so the normal response time is we actually log that request within an hour, and then our response time is within one business day. And that’s basically saying, Hey, look, just take a look at it. Things are okay, but whatever.

Todd Darroca (16:20):


David Kakish (16:21):

The one that we came with is something called fast response, which is Todd. It means that one of two things is happening, you can’t access your email or you can’t log into your computer. And so we treat that just like an emergency. So again, we’re logging that within five minutes, we’re getting back to you, our SLAs within 30 minutes. But again, real world scenario, we’re doing that a lot faster than that, but that’s sort of the SS l A that we have with our clients, and we meet that and we hit that and we’re not over promising on delivery. Exactly,

Todd Darroca (16:53):


David Kakish (16:54):


Todd Darroca (16:55):

And I think you mentioned how big your team is, but that’s some pretty good, I mean, emergency time and overall response time. So how big is the team over there?

David Kakish (17:03):

Sure. Yeah. So at this stage of the game, our team is a little under 20 people. And the way that we typically do that is we’ve got three team members that are usually assigned to a client. And the whole idea there is to work with you at a strategic level, at a tactical level and an operational level. So somebody that’s able to help you quickly reset a password, may not be the best person that’s going to sit down with you and say, Hey, let’s strategize on opening up a remote office, or how do we better secure our workforce now that they’re working remote and things like that. But yeah, it’s a dedicated team that gets assigned to you. And so Todd, when you call in or when you put a request in, there’s a primary support engineer, there’s a technical account manager, and then there’s an IT manager.


And so this is the team that’s assigned with you, the assigned help desk specialist. That first team member is the primary support engineer that works with you. The technical account manager is the one that’s sort of responsible for the overall relationship with you. And then depending on what you have going on, we’ll do a strategic technology review after 90 days, and typically anywhere from one to four times per year, depending on your size and your RIA a’s firm size and then what you have going on. But yeah, that’s how we have it. So while we’ve got this team of under 20 people, most of our clients are interacting with three people, and most of our clients are like, oh, I love Sam, or I love Lou, but they don’t know the team that works with Sam, doesn’t know Lou, and vice versa, which is fine. That’s really a great way, and I should say it’s great because it provides a sense of ownership for the team members as they work with you. And then Todd, if you’re a client of ours now you know that, oh yeah, you know what? I know the team that supports me and you’re not calling in and getting any of our 20 different team members.

Todd Darroca (18:58):

I mean, yeah, it’s super nice. I mean, even though not even I don’t go with that local IT provider, whatever, you still have this sense of neighborhood friendship, intimacy in that sense of the 20 people in the area. It’s not just like I’m getting to a call center where one of 10,000 could answer my call. So

David Kakish (19:15):

That’s exactly, and

Todd Darroca (19:17):

That makes me feel more comfortable too, especially with all this data. So that’s great. That’s

David Kakish (19:21):

Great. Yeah, and I want to add one more thing. Sure. We have an assigned team that works with you and the irony of it all and talking about local IT support and things like that, and we get this all the time. Somebody’s working with

Todd Darroca (19:33):


David Kakish (19:33):

Local IT company that’s literally 15 minutes away from their RIA, but they haven’t been on site for two years. I mean, because even local IT companies are doing all that remote, it’s more efficient forum than to send somebody onsite. Again, that’s not all the time, but it’s actually very common. So they’re like, hang on, what’s the advantage of working local if I haven’t seen them in person for 1, 2, 3 years? Yeah.

Todd Darroca (19:59):

Any final thoughts, David, that you want the viewer or listener to walk away with here about the commonly asked questions or things that you kind of hear a lot from your clients or walk away with here?

David Kakish (20:10):

Yeah, I’m looking at the list. I think we covered, I think we covered most of ’em, but again, I think maybe the last thought that I’ll leave with is yes, it’s an enterprise class platform. We’ve got enterprise stability and enterprise security, but at the end of the day, it’s not necessarily just about the platform or the tool, it’s about the assigned team that works with you. So we have a very, very, our client retention is, I haven’t looked at it recently, but it’s insane. It’s over 95%. So it’s very rare that we lose clients. And usually that happens, the instances where I’m happening is there’s a change in their business model or they got acquired, or you get a new leadership team that wants to flex their muscles.

Todd Darroca (20:55):

Most of

David Kakish (20:56):

Our clients are with

Todd Darroca (20:56):

Us for like

David Kakish (20:57):

Five plus years, 10 plus years and so on. And then that assigned teams a pretty big deal for us because we’re looking at the customer satisfaction rate where they rate us every time we complete a request, they give us a green, orange, or red, and we’re averaging it over 98%. And if we get a yellow or a red from that client, we’re immediately getting back and saying, Hey Todd, I’m sorry you gave us a yellow or a red. What can we do to fix that? And so we actually look at those metrics. We call that the smile backs, right where you rate us. We look at that every day, every week, every month, every quarter, every year. And it’s just a quick way to catch something and not let things fester. So anyways, as you can see, I can talk about this for a while, so I want to

Todd Darroca (21:43):

Go back

David Kakish (21:43):

And focus on any other questions that you might have for me.

Todd Darroca (21:46):

Yeah, I don’t have anything right now, but I think it’s important to let listeners know and watchers that if you need any more have questions or you need more resources about your company, you can go to www.riaworkspace.com and check out their learning center. And I want to thank the president of the company, Mr. David Kakish here for joining today and for giving all those great answers to all of those frequently asked questions. So for David, I’m Todd Darroca, and thanks so much for listening. We hope you have a great day.