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The below is excerpted from a case study published on Unqork's website.

FM-Unqork Case Study
  • Relentlessly focused on the customer experience, investment advisory firm First Manhattan wanted to modernize, digitize, and automate client and advisor experiences.
  • By selecting best-in-class vendors and Unqork, the powerful integration, orchestration, and user interface (UI) application layer, First Manhattan was able to deliver efficient, scalable, consistent, and extensible offerings, including an enhanced new account opening process and a redesigned client portal.
  • In addition to providing its clients with a more modern technology experience, the onboarding and portal solutions are helping to eliminate the advisor “swivel chair,” enabling them to spend even more time connecting with and supporting their clients.

About First Manhattan

Founded in 1964, First Manhattan (the “Firm”) is an independently owned and operated investment advisory firm with $31B+ in assets under management (AuM)1. The Firm seeks to deliver strong financial returns through an investment approach driven by in-house, proprietary research, customized wealth planning advice, and personalized client service. First Manhattan is committed to building multi-generational relationships by getting to know clients in a deep and meaningful way, understanding their unique and evolving goals, and creating a clear and cohesive path to achieving consistent, long-term outcomes.

1 Data as of March 31, 2024.

Challenges and opportunities in wealth management

For wealth management firms, a focus on client-centricity and digital enablement of client and advisor interactions is not just critical to success, but also mutually reinforcing. Research suggests that today’s clients expect to have digital-first experiences. Going digital, in turn, frees up advisors to spend even more time providing meaningful advice, timely responses, and more personalized service.

First Manhattan’s transformation goals: A customer-centric platform that elevates experiences, increases efficiencies, and offers competitive differentiation

To meet the evolving demands of wealth clients, First Manhattan maintains a relentless focus on client centricity.

"The ability to deliver exceptional and secure services is critical to retaining and growing relationships with existing clients, while also attracting new clients and advisors to our platform." - Zachary Wydra, CEO, First Manhattan

To support client-centricity, First Manhattan wanted a platform that could transform client and advisor experiences and achieve three overarching goals:

1. Foster deeper connectivity between clients and advisors.

The Firm wanted to provide one point of access for clients, including account opening, portfolio data and reporting, secure communications with advisors, and access to its market trends and insights.

In addition to providing on-demand access to clients, First Manhattan also wanted to free up advisors so they could focus on having even more meaningful interactions with clients driven by data-informed insights.

2. Scale and automate processes to drive productivity, compliance, and control.

By digitizing and automating manual processes as much as possible, First Manhattan knew it could free up personnel across the Firm to focus on higher-value tasks. For example, the Firm wanted to centralize and automate account opening and servicing, both to elevate client experiences on the front end and to increase efficiency, compliance, and accuracy on the back end.

3. Leverage its technology stack as a competitive differentiator.

First Manhattan wanted their technology stack to be a differentiator in attracting and retaining both clients and advisor talent. To do so, the Firm wanted to continue to offer its clients highly personalized experiences, while also providing access to robust technology offerings that large wealth managers leverage to operate more efficiently and provide on-demand service at scale. By doing so, First Manhattan could also reduce the “swivel chair effect2” for advisors, thanks to more connected, streamlined experiences and faster, easier access to client data and insights.

Finally, the Firm wanted to modernize application development, accelerating innovation without taking on significant technology overhead or future technology debt.

2 Any business workflow or task where you need to manually enter the same data into different systems.

First Manhattan selects Unqork

Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Graham Clifford, who joined First Manhattan in 2020, made modernizing, digitizing, and automating client experiences one of his core priorities. But he and his team knew that off-the-shelf solutions could not deliver the level of customization that First Manhattan required. However, he also wanted to avoid the complexity and ongoing expense of managing a custom internal build.

During the exhaustive search for the right development solution, First Manhattan discovered the Unqork Enterprise App Cloud. Unqork’s solution doesn’t just enable application development without writing a line of code, but also handles the ongoing maintenance and security requirements throughout the application’s lifecycle. In addition, Unqork can serve as a powerful integration and orchestration layer, seamlessly connecting with legacy systems or third-party software, enabling First Manhattan to unlock a modular approach to transformation and eliminate the need to rip-and-replace existing systems.

Finally, Unqork is a fully managed solution. Unlike traditional low-code/no-code solutions, Unqork handles upgrades, maintenance, and security on an ongoing basis, enabling First Manhattan to focus on innovation instead of maintenance.


In addition to working with a leading consulting firm, First Manhattan took full advantage of Unqork’s ability to foster iterative collaboration across its teams. For example, the technology team’s Business Systems group—led by Nadia Abdulghani, Head of Business Systems—became Unqork power users, helping to develop these client experiences in Unqork. In addition, First Manhattan’s marketing team, led by Chief Marketing Officer Kenya Henderson, helped to bring seamless, personalized client experiences to life in collaboration with the technology team.

In just 12 months, First Manhattan’s cross-functional team was able to roll out an end-to-end client onboarding and account opening experience. After the solution went live in November 2022, the team turned to building the client portal, which it delivered just over a year later. Along the way, the First Manhattan team was impressed by the complex, sophisticated, and performant capabilities that they could build with Unqork.

"A common pitfall of low-code/no-code is that you eventually hit a dead end and find something you cannot do," says Clifford. "With Unqork's flexibility, that never happened to us. Whether through internal innovation or collaboration with the Unqork team, we were able to create and customize things in a highly bespoke and ever-evolving way." - Graham Clifford, CTO, First Manhattan

The solutions: onboarding, account opening, and client portal

Onboarding and account opening

First Manhattan’s onboarding and account opening solution makes it easy for advisors to know exactly where their clients are in the onboarding and account opening process and identifies the next steps to help them complete the complex process quickly and easily. To make this possible, the Firm created a highly structured but easily adaptable workflow in Unqork with automation, servicing, and case management components incorporated into the solution.

For example, the solution seamlessly integrates Equifax to power Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) guidelines. To make this possible, Unqork orchestrates the entire process, receives the necessary data, and automatically generates a report for First Manhattan’s Supervision team within the application itself. In addition, the integration with the Firm’s custodian makes the process even more seamless and accurate.

Client portal experience

With its onboarding and account opening solution in place, the Firm then turned to creating an enhanced client portal to offer clients both on-demand access to information they care about most and a single point of access for all First Manhattan’s services. Features include:

  • Homepage: In a sleek, modular design, clients can see key information on the homepage, including:
    • Summarization, such as a view of clients’ account values over time, recently published content, and key notifications from their advisors.
    • A unified account selector, which enables clients to see percent change from the prior day, total holdings, and more. They can also customize how they view and interact with their accounts.
    • Interactive charting, which provides interactive reporting that leverages historical data and takes into account transactions in and out of the account to calculate capital.
  • Accounts: One of the most frequently visited pages, which clients can access from the unified account selector on the homepage. It includes:
    • Summary data tables with detailed account information that allows for quick searching and filtering. These insights draw on data from both First Manhattan’s and the custodian’s data warehouses.
    • Documents, including statements pulled from the custodian, alternatives documents and reports, and detailed portfolio reports pulled from the Firm’s portfolio management system.
    • Analysis tools to support interactive reporting, enabling clients to unlock deeper insights about their portfolio.
  • Communications Center: Clients can access communications with their advisors and First Manhattan, including secure messaging, notifications, and alerts.
  • Insights: Clients now have simple, intuitive, and customizable access to personalized content, like Firm communications, videos, podcasts and more, tailored to their current investments and interests. This level of customization also enables First Manhattan to easily share content related to alternative investments with specific clients, enabling the Firm to meet regulatory requirements.

Further, advisors now have all their clients’ information and auditable customer communications in one place, supported by integrations across upstream and downstream systems. This digital-first experience eliminates the swivel chair, reduces manual processing, and gives advisors even more time to focus on providing high-quality, personalized service to their clients.

How First Manhattan leveraged Unqork to build these solutions

To realize these two transformative solutions, First Manhattan relied on Unqork to integrate its existing ecosystem, orchestrate complex processes, and present intuitive UIs to its clients and advisors, thanks to:

  • 100% visual, composable development without code. Because Unqork enables rapid development, it was easy for First Manhattan to get up and running fast and achieve progress quickly. It also provided the flexibility required to adapt to changing client and regulatory needs as required.
  • Support for responsive UI and pixel-perfect designs: First Manhattan used Unqork to create a fully responsive user interface for any device, including pixel-perfect designs based on the Firm’s branding.
  • Internal and external integrations: With Unqork, First Manhattan was able to quickly and securely connect applications, data, and services to support onboarding and client portal solutions. For example, integration with Azure B2C authentication makes it easy to connect with multiple applications and create new integrations in the future. And leveraging the integration with Snowflake—First Manhattan’s centralized data warehouse, source of truth, and aggregator of data from the custodian, CRM system, portfolio management system, and more—data is pushed to Unqork for portfolio and account-level reporting metrics.
  • SDLC management: Unqork makes it easy for First Manhattan to promote updates between environments. The Firm’s Technology team is able to collaborate, track, and perform change controls, which is particularly helpful for creators who are not professionally trained developers.
  • Security and governance: Unqork’s security and governance capabilities—including role-based access controls at the environment, application, and component level— satisfied First Manhattan’s stringent requirements for security and data protection.

All these capabilities helped First Manhattan accelerate the initial builds of the two solutions significantly. But that’s only part of the value that Unqork brings: In an industry with rapidly evolving technological and competitive demands, Unqork empowers First Manhattan to change, update, and optimize these solutions quickly and easily to support ongoing innovation and business agility.

The Results: fostering deeper client and advisor connectivity

Since going live, the onboarding and client portal solutions have delivered on First Manhattan’s vision for a client-centric platform that elevates client and advisor experiences, increases efficiencies, and offers competitive differentiation.

  • Faster client onboarding. With exceptional workflows and servicing features, the onboarding and account opening solution has increased operational efficiencies and shrunk onboarding timelines to just a few days.
  • Satisfied clients’ needs for a modern portal offering. In the first two months of operation, more than 2,500 clients were onboarded to the new client portal.
  • Faster, client-centric innovation. Unqork’s modular approach allows First Manhattan to iterate quickly, turning user feedback into future updates and innovation.
  • Operational efficiency. Improved internal workflows have freed up significant time for the Firm’s personnel to focus on higher-value tasks.

"Based on our conversations, clients are finding the new portal built on Unqork to be more informative, comprehensive, user-friendly, and modern-looking," says Abdulghani. "We have heard that clients appreciate having the information they need at their fingertips and that they find the portal easy to navigate." - Nadia Abdulghani, Head of Business Systems, First Manhattan

What’s next: A platform for innovation

First Manhattan is already planning ways to leverage the flexibility and extensibility of Unqork to power future innovations. As always, connectivity between advisors and clients is a top priority. For example, First Manhattan is considering ways to enhance the Insights section to include additional content categories and provide users with even more customization. They are also looking at ways to expand case management and service capabilities powered by automated workflows that reduce reliance on emails and increase auditability.

Looking further ahead, the First Manhattan team is also exploring ways to integrate with AI to help guide clients through workflows in a personalized, high-touch way, as well as chatbots to help clients complete simple account maintenance tasks.

However First Manhattan decides to innovate, Unqork smooths the path to the future.

"Unqork makes it much easier to make incremental changes," says Clifford, CTO. "We are currently releasing production updates weekly. This will slow to bi-weekly and eventually monthly. However, this project will never be static and will keep evolving, and Unqork enables us to do so.