Client Success: Friends First
After 184 years in business, Irish life assurance company Friends First knows how to provide high-quality service and meet emerging business challenges.
How do you execute portfolio-wide accounting, management and performance reporting?
“Yardi Voyager is the foundation of Friends First’s interactions with property accounting, fund management, property management and external agents”
Alan Pollard, senior investment specialist for Friends First
Established in 1834 to provide life assurance to the Society of Friends (Quakers), Friends First now offers a wide range of life protection, investment and pension products to more than 281,000 customers. It is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.
Friends First, which has €4 billion ($4.93 billion) of assets under management as of December 2016, operates a number of complex property investment structures that split properties across different funds and receive data from multiple external sources.
Seeking a New Foundation.
The challenge Friends First faced in 2015 was finding a single connected platform that could house financial and operational data from all of the investment structures and execute portfolio-wide accounting, management and performance reporting. The company found the solution it needed in Yardi Voyager.
“Yardi Voyager is the foundation of Friends First’s interactions with property accounting, fund management, property management and external agents,” says Alan Pollard, senior investment specialist for Friends First.
For example, performance reports generated from Yardi Voyager data allow the company’s property and fund managers to monitor and manage portfolio and fund performance. Automated accounting for complex split property ownerships and non-standard investment structures relieves Friends First staff of manual data entry and processing, significantly reducing risk.
Another key benefit Friends First receives from Yardi Voyager is the ability to map the general ledger to another system’s account codes. “This allows us to extract the data from Yardi Voyager easily and post it to another system. It also simplifies reconciliations and audit trail tracking between systems,” Pollard says.
The platform also gives Friends First new capabilities for system-based accruals, which accrue charges collected as a percentage of rent collected. Real-time reporting of lease management, recovery reconciliations, budgeting and other performance indicators delivers a complete picture of portfolio performance.
Improved VAT, Invoicing Capabilities
With more than 160 countries using value added tax (VAT), automating reporting related to the consumption tax represents another key advantage for Friends First. Yardi Voyager allows the firm to enter the VAT information when setting up a legal entity, then run the tax report each month to show unposted balances (unreturned VAT). The company can also post the entire VAT return for each legal entity in one step (when making its returns to the revenue), simplifying the process and making it more efficient. Automatic exclusion of VAT on lease and unit expenditures that are outside the VAT net is also set up in Yardi Voyager.
Yardi Voyager’s automation also streamlines Friends First’s tenant invoicing. “We can run invoicing on dozens of properties as easily as on one. Once the charge is raised, Voyager automatically directs the user to the invoice delivery menu from which we attach the invoice and mail it out,” Pollard says.
He adds, “All correspondence, including the emails and invoices, is automatically saved to the lease, which saves us time, labour and storage space and has ultimately assisted us in achieving a 99% rent collection rate.”