3-4 hours to customize engagement letters cut to 10 Minutes!
Using Zap Report Builder to Automate Engagement Letters and Valuation Reports in Word and Excel. Featuring Nainesh Shah, CFA
In this case study, we explore how Nainesh Shah, a seasoned professional in business valuation and financial strategy, successfully streamlined and accelerated the process of creating engagement letters and valuation reports. With the goal of saving time and reducing the potential for errors, Nainesh sought a solution that would automate the customization of these documents. Using Zap Report Builder, Nainesh discovered an efficient way to transform a previously time-consuming task into a streamlined process. Join us as we delve into Nainesh’s experience and uncover the significant time savings and improved accuracy he achieved with the help of Zap.
Nainesh runs a valuation firm that performs over fifty engagements per year and was looking for a way to speed up and simplify the process of creating both engagement letters and valuation reports. This case study discusses his experience using Zap.
With over 25 years of experience in business valuation, portfolio management, and financial strategy, Nainesh Shah co-founded Complete Advisors, a valuation firm based in the Greater New York City area. As a Certified Financial Analyst (CFA) with an engineering background and an MBA, Nainesh has always been an early adopter of technology and recently started using Zap.
Automating Engagement Letters for 50+ Valuations per year
“We specialize in non-conventional valuation most often of closely held companies, and mainly for gift and estate tax and M&A work,” says Nainesh. “Since we conduct 50-60 valuations per year and have a team of 3-4 valuation professionals, our workload is significant. We begin the process with a comprehensive engagement letter. Once that is accepted, we start the engagement.”
The time-consuming process of manually customizing each engagement letter according to individual clients wasted significant time and increased the potential for error. And any edits must be made in several places. When Nainesh found Zap Report Builder, he recognized immediately that it would help speed up and simplify the process.
Using Zap to Automate Engagement Letters
Before Nainesh was introduced to Zap Report Builder, he had no way to solve his problem of streamlining the creation of customized engagement letters in less time. He was unable to find any third-party products that could even come close to what he needed. The length, complexity and number of data fields plus optional content made the engagement letter challenging to speed up beyond his entirely manual process.
“Making changes was one of my team’s biggest challenges,” says Nainesh. “Complex engagement letters can have hundreds of links to data in Excel, well over 10 large blocks of optional content, and innumerable smaller pieces of text that need to change per client, per job.”
To customize an engagement letter, Nainesh’s team used to manually go through the document, remove text and text blocks that did not belong for each individual client, update what needed to be customized, then copy and paste pertinent Excel data referenced in the engagement letter. A few examples of the many dozens of elements that change in an engagement letter include the type of business (LLC, S. Corp, etc.) and the valuation purpose (gift and estate tax, divorce, business transaction, etc.). Although making each one of these customizations is not necessarily difficult, there were so many that needed to be manually updated, it took hours and was prone to human error.
“When we were doing engagement letters manually, they would take 3 to 4 hours,” says Nainesh. “With Zap Report Builder we can get this down to 10 minutes per engagement letter.”
Nainesh created a 10+-page Zap engagement letter “template” in Word with Zap commands that automate the process of creating a final engagement letter. The Zap template includes all the commands that customize the final engagement letter based on the contents of an Excel file that he created to coordinate with the Word document. These commands link numbers, tables, and charts and bring in optional text and text blocks. This Excel file is where Nainesh specifies all the inputs and options for a specific engagement, then he uses Zap to connect the Excel file to the Word template to create the final customized engagement letter.
Below is the first page of Nainesh’s engagement letter template, with field shading turned on so you can see all the fields that change per engagement. The Toggle Blocks are also shown and allow for only the relevant text to be included in the final engagement letter. Note, with field shading turned off, the letter looks like a normal Word document without the gray highlights.
Before finding Zap Report Builder, Nainesh was using Microsoft OLE (Object Linking and Embedding) and “cut and paste” — both of which were time-consuming and fallible. Also, Microsoft’s OLE links were easily broken and caused the report to become corrupt. In addition, using ‘patchwork’ methods makes quality control unmanageable and increases the risk of embarrassing errors.
Using Zap Report Builder for Valuation Reports
“While carrying out a valuation, we often need to adjust numbers, assumptions, and even the methods we use after the draft report is created,” says Nainesh. “In these instances, any change we make in Excel needs to be carried over to the report in Word.”
Before Zap, all the Excel data referenced in the Word report had to be manually updated using “cut and paste” from Excel. This was time-consuming and makes preventing errors in the report extremely tedious.
“We are now starting to use Zap to create our valuation reports too. This means I can simply click the Zap “Update Links” option in Word and the changes – text, data, numbers, tables, and charts — are updated automatically throughout the document,” says Nainesh. “Our valuation report has hundreds of references to Excel data and dozens of sections of the report that need to be conditionally included. Although we just started using Zap for our valuation reports, I’m hopeful and excited that it will help us automate the creation of valuation reports as it did for our engagement letters.”
In conclusion, Nainesh Shah’s adoption of Zap Report Builder revolutionized the way his valuation firm operates. By leveraging the power of automation, Nainesh and his team were able to transform a labor-intensive process into a remarkably efficient one. The time required to customize engagement letters was reduced from hours to mere minutes, resulting in increased productivity and enhanced client satisfaction. Furthermore, by extending the use of Zap to their valuation reports, Nainesh’s firm anticipates further time savings and improved accuracy in their reporting process. Nainesh’s story serves as a testament to the transformative potential of leveraging technology to optimize workflows and achieve tangible business benefits. With Zap Report Builder, the path to faster, more accurate engagement letters and valuation reports has been paved, enabling professionals like Nainesh to focus their time and expertise on delivering exceptional results for their clients.
About Nainesh Shah
Nainesh Shah grew up in Mumbai, India. He holds an MBA in finance from Dalhousie University, Canada, and a bachelor’s in engineering from MS University, India. Nainesh holds citizenship in three countries: USA, Canada, and India.
A keen interest in money management led him to take a position in New York City in 1994 with Sheer Asset Management, which merged with Roosevelt Investments in 2002. As a portfolio manager, he helped grow their assets under management (AUM) from $1B to $6B.
In 2019, Nainesh co-founded Complete Advisors with Evan Levine. Complete Advisors is a valuation firm that specializes in the valuation of complex businesses and assets. Nainesh is the Director of Valuation Advisory at Complete Advisors. He is responsible for developing the company’s valuation strategy, coordinating, and conducting valuations, and communicating valuation findings to clients.
Behavioral finance and AI are among his professional interests. His personal interests include practicing meditation, reading autobiographies, and running marathons. His wife is a program coordinator for two non-profit senior centers, and their children are in college.