Boutique financial services firm makes a long-term investment; replaces a patchwork of cloud apps with Zoho One

The Company

OTG Capital addresses a genuine concern that many of us have: safe investment options. As an asset-backed investment trust, OTG Capital provides loans to lenders, backed by residential properties. For investors, the company provides up to 7.28% in returns annually.

Ray Trevisan is the owner of OTG Capital, which is located in Sydney's Northern Beaches and makes up the financial side of his overall suite of businesses. "I've been investing this way for 21 years now," he said, "but 4 years ago, I decided to retrain out of IT and become a financial planner." He understood the benefits and low-risk opportunities of this investment practice, so the IT veteran started up OTG Capital. "I've always wanted to have my own investment fund," he commented, "We're now a small boutique investment company with a big focus on customer service. And we leverage IT to the fullest to make that a reality."

The Challenge

Having worked in the IT industry for most of his career, Ray knew just how important it was to invest in reliable business tools. "A straight spreadsheet will only do so much," he told Zoho. "As you start adding macros to do clever things with it so you have enough data to support a customer service operation, you'll very quickly have to stop because it's a waste of energy. When you're building a customer-facing business, you realise that literally on day one. And you've got to go out and shop for the right tool to do the right job," he added.

He started looking for a tool that would help him manage customer interactions effectively. He'd had experience working with database systems in his previous jobs, so he knew that wasn't what he was looking for. "I used the contacts database within Outlook at that time, but I knew within a couple of weeks that that was never going to work." He needed a CRM with specific functionality for his investment fund. "I was looking for a detailed audit trail and much of what I needed had to be cloud based so that I wasn't overly reliant on server architecture."

The Solution

"Google Search." That was what brought Ray to Zoho. "It was one of those silly websites that said 'Top 10 CRM Packages' or something like that," he recalled. "Zoho CRM was pitched up against all these other CRMs, and it came out pretty darn well."

That said, his IT experience told him to verify before he believed things he read on the internet, so he decided to put Zoho to the test. "What immediately grabbed my eyes was the ability to try without having to pay," he said. "I was able to dip my toe in with Zoho CRM and play around with the product. I started feeding data in, and I found it fairly intuitive."

"I remember the first year of operating Zoho CRM for free and thinking to myself, 'gosh these guys are going to have to ask me for money sooner or later! I started feeling guilty because I was using all of this functionality."

Along with Luke Golledge, a fellow business consultant, Ray implemented Zoho CRM into OTG Capital. Not long after that, he and Golledge were jointly consulting another client, discussing how Zoho One might help them. "As I was doing my due diligence for our client," he said, "I started to realise it'd be pretty good for me too. Not to mention that 'you need to eat your own dog food.' If you're going to recommend an offering to a client, using it for yourself is a great way to validate that technology."

When the pandemic hit Australia the first time, Ray was also looking at growing the company’s marketing efforts. He was looking for tools that would help him reach a wider audience, and he got a message from the Zoho One team recommending Zoho SalesIQ, the live website visitor monitoring tool. “I was using a different website builder for my website. It had nice little tools in there, but when I discovered Zoho SalesIQ, all of a sudden, this new world of information arrived at my doorstep. SalesIQ started sending me all this really cool data, and it gave me the ability to quiz the prospects coming onto my website,” he explained. Having worked in the IT industry, he had seen this technology before. “But I never realised that this would be accessible to little old me as a small virtual company.”

Since SalesIQ was included in his Zoho One package, Ray could use the product right away. He immediately integrated it with his website so he could analyse his website visitors in real time. However, he soon realised that having multiple vendors was becoming pricey. “I got to a point where I thought to myself, ‘I really need to rationalise and see what makes sense,” This led him to transfer his website to Zoho Sites.

“I must admit, Zoho really opened my eyes by what it could do,” he recalled, learning about the 40+ products that came with Zoho One. He then actively started looking at ways to replace his other subscriptions with a Zoho tool.

Thanks to Golledge's suggestion, Ray also replaced his password management subscription with Zoho's own password manager system, Zoho Vault. "Through Vault, I can share a password with a third-party, either as a once off or often, and they don't get to see my actual credentials. That's proxied and masked so that I have security. So if there's a falling out, I can just flick that off and they don't have the actual credential to hack me," he said. "From a cybersecurity threat perspective, that itself is fabulous!"

“The value proposition keeps growing and growing as you add more applications from the Zoho One suite,” he said. He then started looking at Zoho Social and how it could help him align his promotions. “It helps me integrate my marketing message. I do one post and it goes out to 6 social channels immediately. Zoho Social takes care of that for me. Big tick in the box,” he laughed.

The 5TB storage offered by Zoho WorkDrive has been helpful as well. “From a financial services perspective, I can store all my client files and interactions, all of my AMLs (anti-money laundering) and KYCs (know your client), and any of the regulatory stuff I need for auditing purposes in the cloud,” he said. He stores all of this critical information in a WorkDrive folder and shares the link with his accountant. “Who, by the way,” he added, “also has a shared link with Books, so he can verify the accounts, access client files, and get the clients’ taxes done.” According to Ray, this way of working has drastically reduced the time it takes for him to complete tasks, especially during tax time.

In addition to these key products, he also uses Zoho Mail as his to-do list for OTG Capital, Zoho Bookings to allocate appointments with clients, Zoho Meeting for calls, Zoho Sign for non-disclosure agreements, and he’s exploring more every day.

Benefits and ROI

According to Ray, one of the biggest benefits of adopting Zoho One into his process was the overall upfront costs he saved. The free trial period assured him he was making the right choice in switching to Zoho One. "When I started paying for Zoho One, I knew it was the right decision because you guys have actually earned this," he said. He loved being able to trial the products beforehand and said that allowed him to evaluate the products' capabilities thoroughly.

With SalesIQ now plugged into his website, he can directly engage with prospects and encourage real-time conversations. "When they come into my website, I can go into SalesIQ and say, 'hey do you want to speak to a real person?'" He explained, "99% of them might say no, but the odd one would say, 'yeah, I'll talk to you' and bang!" he laughed before continuing, "We have an interaction and things start happening. That's good."

According to Ray, Zoho One's integrated interface made everyday work easy for him. "I find integrated widgets very useful." He said, noting that going from multiple PC applications to having everything in a single browser was a big culture shift for him. He also spoke of how Zoho One enabled him to be productive from the very beginning. '"The freemium model and relatively shallow learning curve made it easier for me to get started without a big outlay," he explained. This in turn, allowed him to focus on acquiring clients and improving his everyday business operations rather than worrying about whether each application worked properly and in tandem.

Looking forward

Ray is excited about implementing more products from the Zoho One suite. "I looked at the 2-minute video and went, oh, yes, I'm definitely having that," He said, speaking of Zoho Contracts. "That's a big part of what we do, and the thing I love about Contracts is the audit trail. Being able to have a really nicely processed audit trail is great!"

He's also currently evaluating Zoho Analytics and is on the look out for what other products he can leverage from his Zoho One subscription. The future is uncertain on many fronts, and the pandemic has proven that location independence is now within grasp. "No matter where I may end up and what the world throws at me," he said referring to the breadth of cloud-based apps he's incorporated, "Zoho One will make it so much easier to do." We're certain Zoho will come along for the ride.