Grange Mutual Group transitioned from its legacy software vendor to Gain Compliance in 2020 for its eight entities and associated Combined filing. In this customer story, you will learn how a veteran team transitioned from a familiar product and relationship with a long-standing vendor to take a chance on a newly-available, native-cloud solution. In the process, Grange found a vendor partner as committed to continuous improvement as they were.
“The way Gain Compliance is laid out, especially with the inputs, there’s a lot more systematic aggregation capabilities…. The way the system is laid out we’ve probably saved 3-4 days with the aggregation.”Jeff Siefker, Controller, on efficiencies related to pooling and Combined filings.
Implementing new software solutions – particularly for critical processes – is typically an intimidating and worrisome prospect. Unlike other IT projects, however, switching to Gain Compliance for statutory financial reporting is seamless and slots easily within the cadence of the filing calendar without disruption.
The Controller Perspective – Before the Transition
When Jeff Siefker joined Grange Mutual Group in 2013, he learned their legacy software by completing the company’s Life statements. “I was in the ‘guts’ of the software daily,” he said, “using it day-in and day-out for preparation.”
As time went on, he transitioned to more of a review capacity. “I was more focused on the validations and the RBC,” he said, “so I had a bigger hand in some of the more complex modules.”
While very familiar with the software package he inherited, he had concerns about data quality. “There’s a lot going on with an Annual Statement and it was pretty clunky maneuvering your way around that system,” he explained. “Making sure all your inputs are in, that everything is filled out completely and accurately – it was a little daunting.”
There was the added task of keeping up with changes to NAIC guidance, so the team took the time to review and understand the annual checklist updates they received. “There’s a lot of information and it can be a challenge finding where those changes have taken place,” Jeff recounted. “There are so many devils in those details and a lot of weeds to sort through to get to where you should be focusing your attention.’
The team had settled into a routine constructed around the feature set – and the limitations – of their legacy software. Both their process, and the software product itself, did not change much over time. “I would say that since their product was more seasoned, [the legacy vendor] felt the software was in as good of a spot as it could be.”
The Senior Accountant Perspective – Before the Transition
“Prior to coming to Grange, I had no previous experience in insurance accounting,” recounted Andrew Stock, Senior Accountant. “So there’s a lot to learn and to understand with that. I think it helps with seeing everything, the presentation format makes it easier to understand what’s going on.”
The Notes were a particular challenge because they were completed outside of their annual statement software. “It was all in a Word document that needed to be manipulated,” he said, “and that document needed to be in perfect alignment to be uploaded.”
This required managing the roll forward of data. “Moving what was the current period number over to the prior period column, and doing it in a way that the NAIC wanted to see it, was really time consuming to do in Word,” he explained.
The Notes interface was symptomatic of the entire filing experience in their legacy solution. “The software looked archaic, it didn’t look like something from this century. It did its job, right, which sometimes is all you really need, but was clunky in both its look and feel.”
The Controller Perspective – Making the Transition
When Grange contemplated the change to Gain, Jeff had concerns about change management with his team. “I was nervous about our long-time associates making a change from software they were very familiar with, and having them transition effectively to the Gain Compliance tool,” he said.
“It turned out to be more seamless than I could have hoped for. And, if there were questions or if there were things we needed to get up to speed outside of the abundance of training that Gain provided up front, there was always a quick response that kept us moving forward.”
The Senior Accountant Perspective – After the Transition
For Andrew, the Notes experience transformed completely, and very much for the better, when Grange made the move to Gain. “It’s all built-in with Gain. It tells you what is required and what isn’t, it provides the ability to look at the instructions, and it shows what’s new in case you need to make further disclosures,” he said. “The software also ‘carries forward’ from the previous year and it condenses it on the quarterlies as well so that you know you’re presenting just what you need to.”
Andrew instantly enjoyed better visibility into the Notes. “[Gain] breaks out each note,” he explained. “When there are changes, those changes are highlighted, it draws your attention to it so that you can make the necessary adjustments.”
That increased visibility provided insights to the formulas driving the calculations as well as how data was linked across their statements. “With Gain, they’re listed as pieces and parts of the different sections of the statement. The hyperlinks are available, which is helpful in jumping to those different sections and seeing how the formulas are connected to each other.”
Andrew highlighted how Gain’s workpapers streamline data imports for other schedules as well, “Now I can develop those workpapers and the Excel sheets I use to compile information and upload into Gain easily…. the ease of upload and the fact that it validates correctly is a huge time saver. Once the real work of confirming all the information is where it needs to be, bringing it into Gain is quick and easy.
Gain’s software provided increased visibility into validation errors as well. “[Gain] is always looking for ways to improve the experience. In particular with the validations, how they show up in a separate window, how the links are provided, and how the issues are described all make it easier to understand what’s going on.”
Over time, he noticed that both the quantity and quality of the validation rules increased. Andrew continued, “the validation rules in Gain have evolved over the last three years we’ve been using it. But, even early on, the way the validations were presented allowed us to get at some root causes of issues and fix things even as those Senior Accountants were leaving. It helped us better understand what we were missing.’
Andrew said that support has been very responsive, keeping the team on track with filing deadlines. “If there are problems, the response time feels immediate. I forget what I specifically asked, but at one point I asked Kim a question during filing season and the response was so quick. That is so helpful.”
The Controller Perspective – After the Transition
Jeff immediately recognized how Gain’s approach to the Notes created efficiency. “I know that piece has added a lot of time savings just through Gain’s modern approach. You don’t have to worry about all the formatting that goes on in Word, getting that into a PDF and making sure everything is attached properly, in Gain, the Notes are all in one place, they’re embedded,” he said, “It’s much more seamless in terms of how the Notes are laid out. Since we’re not messing with formatting, we’ve seen a lot of efficiencies there.”
Jeff also noticed how Gain’s approach to NAIC guidance helped the team navigate changes to that guidance. “Those changes are called out on the individual pages that might be affected by NAIC updates, so it’s specific to those pages you’re working on,” he explained, “That’s really helpful when it comes to understanding what might be different from prior periods. It was much easier for me to see it that way rather than working through the checklist we were using to track those changes.”
He also mentioned the greatly improved experience with their Combined Statement and pooling arrangements, “The way Gain Compliance is laid out, especially with the inputs, there’s a lot more systematic aggregation capability…. The way the system is laid out we’ve probably saved 3-4 days.”
Not only did the existing team make the transition without issue, Gain’s modern and intuitive software also made it easy for Grange to bring new people into the process. “We had an outside service provider start recently with little to no prior experience with the statements. They were able to get up to speed quickly,” Jeff said. “We were able to train them on the ins and outs of the process and what needed to go into the statement; they picked up how to navigate in the tool quickly. They’re using the tracking buttons, maybe even more effectively than the long-time members of the team, so they can keep track of where they are and their progress, so I know that’s really assisted them. All in all, the tool has allowed them to learn the quarterly and annual statement processes and keep track of their work very effectively.”
Beyond an improved day-to-day experience using the software, Jeff and his team felt like they had more than a software vendor, they had a partner in the process. “The ease of use with the tool was great and it seemed like whenever we had suggestions on how it might work better, Gain was willing to listen to our input and provided checkpoints to give that feedback and get those improvements pushed,” he said. “Gain seemed more like an extension of the team, as if they were a direct systems support for our team.”
He continued, “It seemed to me that since Gain was new and more interested in that feedback and using that to continue to enhance the product. I think the Gain experience really helps us think about what we could do better, it helps us have that continuous improvement mindset and it’s great having a partner thinking the same way.”
It’s been a great relationship – very customer service oriented. They’re always making sure we’re happy with our experience and making sure we’re getting those timely responses. Again, that continuous improvement mindset and the flexibility to hear ‘hey, what about this, what if we tweaked this so it works a little differently for us so it enhances our experience?’ The team is always willing to listen and typically they deliver on those things for us.’
Jeff is not only pleased with Gain’s current capabilities, but also excited about the future direction. “We’re only a few years into this and I feel like it’s only the tip of the iceberg as far as the capabilities and possibilities for the future. We’ll continue to look at ways to leverage this modern technology to automate our processes.”
Relationships with software vendors should be about more than just delivering software. They should be about delivering a better experience.
Gain Compliance offers a superior experience – not just for software, but for the overarching customer experience, starting with a seamless and efficient onboarding and continuing with each filing thereafter.
Learn more about how Gain has improved outcomes for financial reporting teams for other carriers.