There before Abbove (or PaxFamilia) was even founded, Gabrielle van Outryve d’Ydewalle experienced the growth of our solution, services and team from beginning to end. And she herself did anything but stand still either. From intern to Customer Success Manager to Product Owner to VP of Product and Operations, the title that describes her role today. Thanks to this varied career, Gabrielle has a lot of knowledge about various different things within Abbove. But what she excels at most is hearing, understanding and translating the needs of our users into a product that fits them perfectly.
In just five years, our user base grew from 120 families to 27,000. And Gabrielle has more than one thing to do with that. She was there from the very beginning in 2017, when we gathered 120 families to learn more about the difficulties they were experiencing in managing their wealth.
"At that time, we already knew from our own experience and our environment that there was room for improvement and modernisation in the way people manage their wealth. But to develop a product that really makes sense and solves people’s real difficulties, you need to know exactly what they need. So we invited 120 Belgian families to our offices in Brussels for an interactive workshop", Gabrielle begins.
A digital wealth passport
Those workshops revealed four recurring difficulties. The families did not have a good global overview of their assets, their wealth-related documents were scattered among different advisors and places, they felt they had no control over the management of their assets, and they were concerned about organising their estate for their heirs.
"The insights we gathered that day made it clear: there was indeed work to be done. So we went straight to action and quite quickly developed an initial prototype of our technology. This consisted of a digital platform with various data inventories in which families could store all information related to their wealth. This allowed them to map out their family structure, list all their assets and liabilities, enter the gifts they had made to their relatives in the past as well as centralise their documents in a secure digital safe. This laid the first foundation of our platform and immediately 'completed' its first goal: to provide families with a global overview of their assets that is accessible 24/7", Gabrielle continues.
From families to families and advisors
But things didn’t stop there. Enthusiastic about this digital solution, the families gave their advisors access to their wealth data on the platform. They too soon saw its value and asked to use the platform for others of their clients as well. So we adapted our business model from B2B to B2B2C and expanded our user base from families alone to families and their advisors. This, of course, also came with a shift in our product, whose functionalities we expanded considerably to also meet the advisor’s needs. As VP of Product, Gabrielle was the pilot behind a lot of these projects.
“Over the years, we developed various tools, such as a financial planning and reporting tool, that we connected to the digital wealth passport. This is what I love most about my job: receiving client requests, engaging in a whole lot of operational, technical and commercial reflections with the team to find how to respond to our clients’ needs, and ultimately developing and delivering a feature that has real added value for them and facilitates their day-to-day work”, declares Gabrielle.
Despite this shift in business model and product development, we did not lose sight of the families and their interests. We were and are still convinced that it is beneficial for both the advisors and the families they serve to have access to the wealth data at all times.
Wealth planning that privileges collaboration
This gave our platform, as the only one on the market, a strong collaborative-focused character.
"Advisors and their clients work together to keep the wealth data up-to-date and complete. As a result, the advisor always has the most accurate information at hand, and the end user is involved in his wealth management in a unique way", Gabrielle explains.
And so began the exercise of tailoring the development of our platform to the needs of both advisors and end users. The fact that we always manage to bring this to a successful result is undoubtedly thanks to Gabrielle. Since the beginning, she has maintained close contacts with our users, first the 120 families, then our professional users. Like no other, she understands the needs of both. And, even better, she also understands how to further develop the platform to meet those needs. Gabrielle knows our solution down to the smallest detail and it is both through her, still, frequent client contacts and her extensive knowledge of the platform that we manage to further develop it in a user-oriented way.
In short, if it was not already clear, we can conclude with the following: Gabrielle co-steers our boat, and if we are sailing in the right direction it is definitely thanks to her perfectly adjusted compass.