Warren Finkel
Chapter 9

How Warren Finkel built a top-tier MSP for the alternative asset class

In 2009, Warren Finkel had a vision. After selling his previous business, he knew how a top-tier MSP should operate, and it was time to make that vision a reality. He could see where the competition was falling short, and where other companies he’d worked for had failed to improve. He knew he could build a company that would do it better.

It was clear to Warren that this business would need a bulletproof support model, the right staffing, and a focus on client care in order to succeed. “In a business that’s become very commoditized,” says Warren, “I always knew that great service would have to be our differentiator.”

Today, Warren has grown ACE-IT Solutions into an award-winning IT outsourcing firm that helps its clients streamline their technology and business operations. They’ve done so by building on a foundation of continuous learning and top-tier, first-call resolution support.

While Warren’s vision has been consistent from the beginning, it took years of deliberate, goal-oriented growth to get ACE-IT where it is today.

Building an MSP for the alternative asset class

The majority of ACE-IT’s current client portfolio is made up of banks, accounting firms, and auditing firms—and that’s exactly the way Warren wanted it. His intent was to create a business that would become one of a select few to handle the sensitive needs of clients in the financial services industry.

“The alternative asset class requires a better pedigree of people, an airtight reputation, and references to make you shine and stand out,” says Warren. “These businesses expect our services to be different. What we do has to be done in real-time, and we built our business around that service mentality.”

Knowing that they were going after an elite customer segment, ACE-IT invested in the processes, tools, and service model structures from the beginning that would help them corner this market. That also meant making careful hiring decisions: bringing people onboard who were responsible and accountable; people he could bring out the best in with his leadership.

Investing in the right infrastructure and people from day one allowed ACE-IT to hit the ground running early. Before long, the company had an impressive portfolio of clients in the financial sector—proof that it was the MSP these companies needed.

Security is a two-way street

The technology business is one that doesn’t sleep. From the beginning, ACE-IT Solutions has been fighting against hackers for companies with highly sensitive information. Hackers find new ways to outsmart people every day, and it’s not a responsibility that Warren takes lightly. “It used to be a question of if you got hacked. Now, it’s a question of when,” he says.

Given that immense responsibility, Warren makes it a top priority to keep his clients informed on the risks they’re facing so that they can act as strategic partners. In fact, ACE-IT’s best client partnerships are with those who are willing to be educated. While ACE-IT can provide the right solutions and recommendations, Warren has always been up front about the fact that clients have to meet them halfway with a willingness to act strategically.

“A big part of what we do is helping people understand risk, and that productivity in their business means operational efficiency with IT and cyber. We can’t work with clients who refuse to acknowledge that they could be hacked, or don’t see the importance in upgrading their software,” says Warren.

ACE-IT guides customers to that understanding with technology roadmaps that help them see what their business needs today, in six months, and even in a few years. This helps customers understand how they can continue to protect themselves, and why investing in the right tools, upgrades, and protection today will serve them well over time.

Keeping the business strong with a focus on employees

While client service and satisfaction is undoubtedly a huge part of ACE-IT’s success, Warren’s attention and commitment to employee engagement has allowed the business to keep scaling the right way.

In fact, raising the bar with employee encouragement and confidence building is non-negotiable. The way Warren sees it, the more he gives employees the opportunity to grow and become accountable, the better the business will do. “No business today is on autopilot,” he says. “There will always be clients calling or an issue that comes up and needs immediate attention. When we empower our employees, it alleviates the pressure on leadership so that they can work on the business rather than in the business.”

Much like the world of technology, successfully improving employee engagement requires constant attention and a commitment to improvement. The workforce has changed tremendously over the last year, and Warren has had to work to ensure he gives his employees the tools to navigate that changing landscape.

With more widespread demands to go remote, ACE-IT has made changes to ensure employees can work from home and access paid time off easily. The company has also invested in employee wellness programs and doubled down on their inclusion and diversity efforts. “It’s very important to us to address what’s happening in the world and to let our employees know that we’re there to support them through this,” says Warren.

This is a focus that’s paid off. When asked which milestone he’s most proud of, Warren doesn’t hesitate to answer. “I’m proud of our employees and how they’ve grown, how they contribute to our success as a company,” he says.

It wasn’t a change that happened overnight. When Warren thinks back a few years, he describes feeling locked to his desk. “I was involved in everything that went on, and it wasn’t sustainable.” But by honing in on employee growth, satisfaction, and accountability, things have changed for the better. The work is continuous, though. ACE-IT has invested in a tool called Officevibe that sends out regular employee engagement surveys, and any dips in employee satisfaction scores are monitored and investigated to see how they can be improved.

ACE-IT has grown rapidly, but they’re not done yet

To Warren, the key to growing an MSP is being at the forefront of technology. This means keeping employees certified and ensuring training is always up to date. This requires hard work, but it allows the company to be the expert partner its clients need.

“Ultimately, we’re judged on our clients’ uptime and availability. If you can guarantee that, it’s a major feat,” says Warren. “Keeping that promise while also providing security and protection is always our goal. We have to always be maintaining both sides of the house.”

Of course, even with the most state-of-the-art technology and well-trained personnel, technology problems will always come up. Without them, ACE-IT wouldn’t be in business. “Technology breaks. Technology needs improvements. It’s been important for us to have a responsive help desk that will be sensitive to our clients’ demands,” he says.

In order to keep achieving all this, Warren knows the key is to continue to empower his people. For him, that means checking in to ask what he can do to make his employees’ day-to-day work better. “If we give them the tools and the support they need, they can go on to give our clients the same thing.”

As for the future, Warren’s goals remain lofty yet attainable. “Our aim is to grow by 50% every year, but that requires a lot of hard work,” he says. “There is a lot of competition out there, and private equity companies are coming in to buy MSPs every day. It’s up to us to keep our staff motivated. We're figuring out ways to improve internally all the time. At the end of the day, it's what our people bring to this business that keeps us successful.”

To learn more about working with ACE IT, visit their website here.

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Amplify your strategy with tips & advice from The Rockstars of MSP

These MSP leaders embarked on their path from varying starting points, and whether their level-up came through serendipity or paving the way with set intentions, you'll hear firsthand how each leader faced challenges and the moves they made to get them where they are today. Some topics that will be highlighted are strategy, values, verticalization, employee happiness, and efficiency for customer satisfaction. Each chapter highlights a different MSP leader's perspective and helps us understand there is more than one way to the top — and even when you think you're there, keep climbing.

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