18 October 2018

The future on display at SS&C Deliver

By Timothy D. Welsh

At our recent SS&C Deliver conference, future trends were front and center.

The technologists and business analysts from Black Diamond who work with over 1,300 top industry firms have been reading the tea leaves to provide a vision for what the advisory practice of tomorrow needs to look like. The good news is that much of the technology needed is available today.

Based on the macro-trends hitting the industry such as consolidation, shortage of advisor talent, the historical generational wealth transfer, shifting consumer expectations and the move to more holistic financial planning and life coaching; advisors will have to leverage technology even more in order to have a sustainable business.

The upshot?  “Advisors will need to automate as much as possible, particularly in digitizing the account opening, synching data across systems, creating deep integrations with CRM and workflows, auto-rebalancing portfolios while providing an elegant client experience across platforms, including online and mobile,” said Bjorn Widerstedt, Senior Director for Black Diamond. 

Widerstedt and his team have been researching various perspectives advisors need to manage, particularly from the client point of view, in order to continue to attract and retain investors through the powerful BD3 platform.

“Don’t make me go to different places to check on my financial life.”

Widerstedt says this is a common frustration many investors have and presents a compelling reason for why advisors need to provide a comprehensive client portal with data aggregation in order to be the central point in investors’ financial lives.  The recently enhanced Black Diamond Client Experience excels at showing investors their entire financial situations in one, compelling, easy to understand wealth view.

“If it’s faster to do myself, I’ll just take care of it.”

Widerstedt noted this is another pain point many of us have in getting things done with a financial institution over the phone, such as moving money, updating information or requesting a change.

 “Because of this, advisors need to provide as much self-service on their websites and client portals to minimize the friction, leverage their staffs and enable a true 24x7 service experience,” Widerstendt says. 

Another key feature of the Black Diamond Client Experience is the ability to initiate requests online, as well as see a timeline of their service experience.

“I’m willing to pay more for guidance and advice than I am asset allocation.”

Widerstedt says this is an emerging value discussion clients are having, highlighting the rapid commoditization of investment management and the need for advisors to continue to expand their financial planning approaches.  In order to scale their planning practice, advisors need tight integrations with their planning software and their core portfolio management system.  Tracking key metrics in a financial life should be easy, proactive and transparent. That’s what leads to sound decision making, thus, empowering firms to expand their advice business.

Automating the trading and rebalancing process was another key area Widerstedt identified as a priority in building a tech stack for the future.  Along these lines, product news that came out of the conference was the launch of Black Diamond’s new, next generation Rebalancer.

“The Rebalancer was built from the ground up instead of relying on third-party resources or an acquisition,” said Steve Leivent, SVP of Advisory Client Experience, SS&C Advent. “The new Rebalancer was built for Black Diamond clients with Black Diamond clients.”

The new rebalancing platform will provide a robust modeling framework that is flexible in order to incorporate models and outside managers.  It will also enable tax efficiency via tax lost harvesting and incorporating asset location (assets in taxable accounts vs. non-taxable accounts).  On the trading side, the new Rebalancer will have FIX connectivity so advisors will not have to download data and then upload trades to custodians. Rounding out the new features are approval workflows to streamline sign-offs and approvals, along with notifications for clients that need rebalancing due to cash inflows or market moves in a clean, intuitive interface.

To learn more about what went on at the 2018 SS&C Deliver conference, check out the many tweets on the #SSCDeliver hashtag on Twitter.