MD Solutions Celebrates 20 Year Anniversary

How a Vision of Better Customer Service Evolved in 20 Years

When the founders of MD Solutions – Steven Mars, Bill Navarro, and Sean Dean – reflect on their twenty years in business, they talk about the early days as “three guys with laptops,” creating a vision of three guys meeting in a garage to create a business. While the truth is a bit nicer, they were actually working indoors, the story remains the same: three men with a shared vision for how to improve software implementations realized they could offer a service to help both software vendors and their clients. And so, MD Solutions was born.  

The Beginning – Software Implementation without Soul 

Steve was working for a large vendor implementing wealth management software, and the business model at the time was to fly in, spend three to five days implementing the software, and leave. Whatever happened after he walked out the door on day five was someone else’s problem.

“You would do as much as you could in the time allotted. And it always felt like you never had enough time to do all the things you needed to do, and you never got to follow through.” Steven Mars, Co-Founder.

Steve worked a little differently. He would follow up with the clients he worked with to make sure the implementation was okay. It created a scenario where people would ask for him, and he established relationships with his clients. He was able to continue to work with some of the same firms, and follow through after leaving, and those extra visits and that extra work created a better-quality experience for both him and his clients – and he really enjoyed those partnerships.

Bill worked on the client side, and he recognized the value in having a trusted partner he could call on that knew his business. He enjoyed not having to rehash the company’s history every time they needed to update or change something. When he moved to the vendor side, he treated his clients the way he wanted to be treated when he was the client. He established connections with his clients and would continue to support them even if he was no longer technically working for them.

Steve and Bill were unknowingly building a client base that transitioned into a business the industry and clientele needed at the time.

The final piece of the puzzle was Sean, who had experience as a trader. He brought the financial services and investment management expertise to the triumvirate, providing the deep industry insight they needed for the business to thrive.

Evolving from Consultants to Technologists and Beyond

In the beginning, they were consultants. As they worked with more clients and discovered more technology and service gaps, they expanded their services to fill those voids. Each service line MD Solutions introduces is created organically to solve real client problems. 

Today, MD Solutions offers a wide range of services to support the financial services and investment management industry. These services range from their original consulting services to technology – including investment technology, advanced reporting, data conversions, and custom engineering – to outsourcing talent to fill employment gaps for both long-term and short-term headcount challenges and education services to help their clients get new team members up to speed fast. Each offering they deliver is created to support their clients’ success.

Why It Worked – Relationships, Focus, and Experience

MD Solutions credits their success to experience, focus, and good relationships:

  1. They were people in the space. All three partners worked for clients and wealth management platform vendors, so they had the technical and industry expertise required to truly understand and solve industry challenges.
  2. They were bootstrapped, taking no funding. This left them free to create the business they wanted the way they wanted, without any oversight or external agendas. They were able to listen to their clients and evolve their product and service offerings based on what they learned from the market, without having to justify each action to financial partners.
  3. They were small, and happy to stay that way, so none of the big players were paying attention to them.
  4. They focused on a niche they knew was empty and filled it. They knew there was a service segment of the marketplace that was underserved, and they were able to offer those services at far more affordable rates because the big vendors were very expensive for the same service.
  5. They maintained a strong, positive relationship with their former vendor.

After just a few years, the vendor asked them to come back and work as a service partner, giving MD Solutions the perfect recipe for growth. They had a steady client, doing the work they loved, but on their own terms. The support of a large vendor gave them steady work, and with that new clients to engage with, learn from, and offer new ways to expand their business by supporting other industry needs.

Customer Service Remains the Focus

Customer service remains the foundation of everything MD Solutions does. They are committed to providing their clients with whatever service their clients need, even if that means leaving MD Solutions.

“We even help clients go with other vendors. We’re very much interested in the success of our clients, and I would much rather have someone work with another firm or another platform than have them work with us if there is a better solution for them out there.” Steven Mars, Co-Founder.

MD Solutions was founded by three guys who wanted to build stronger relationships instead of just slapping together a three-day implementation and leaving. Good customer service sometimes means letting clients go and hoping that someday you can work together again. In fact, many of the clients MD Solutions had to encourage to leave over the years have returned and could still return, because the technical issues that existed years ago have long been resolved.

Gratitude – Customers, Partners, Employees

The overwhelming feeling the partners share today is a feeling of gratitude – for their clients, employees, partners, and the vendor they left that gave them that big contract many years ago. Steve noted that some scary statistics would keep him up late at night in the early days: according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 20% of new businesses fail within their first two years, 45% fail within five years, and 65% fail within 10 years.

“There were so many people and companies that supported us and gave us a chance, that took a chance on us. It probably would never have happened if it had been just three guys with laptops. But there are a lot of supporting firms and a lot of clients who came to bat and who reached out to other clients. It goes without saying that we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for a lot of those people.” Steven Mars, Co-Founder.

In fact, one of the things they are most proud of is the longevity of their client relationships.

“Our very first client is still with us. It was my last client as a staff employee. We did some interesting things and were able to work together. They’re still with us today.” Steven Mars, Co-Founder.

Building for the Future

MD Solutions was built for the long term. There is no exit strategy, no desire to sell the business and move on. One of the three original partners has already retired, and the two remaining partners were able to smoothly transition him out of the company without impacting the business. Their vision is to be able to do the same when they both retire, leaving a legacy of customer-centric services and development for the next generation of MD Solutions leaders.