28 February 2019

Up and running quickly with Black Diamond

By Timothy D. Welsh

James Liotta spent seven years working for big brokerage houses and then five years in his family’s ingredients business before deciding to strike out on his own. His first solo effort was a hedge fund, but a broader opportunity beckoned. “A lot of my clients were actually more interested in having me take over their portfolios,” James says.

In 2013, James launched Prominence Capital—and immediately faced a technology challenge. “When I opened shop, the platform I’d been using for my hedge fund couldn’t integrate with my custodian. I remembered that SS&C Advent had the Black Diamond Wealth Platform when I was researching systems, and knew it was built for RIAs. I looked at several other systems, but Black Diamond was the right solution for me.”

The initial selling points for James were:

  • Custodial integration: “I wanted to be able to interact with more than one custodian. Black Diamond has connections with over 900 institutions that I could get downloads from immediately. That set them apart.”
  • Customizable reporting: “I like the look, feel, and ease of the presentation. The client portal, too, is very flexible. I can show each client everything I feel is important for that individual in one place.”
  • Cloud deployment: “I like having a cloud-based system because I don’t have to worry about updates – they’re automatic. My data is more secure because I’m getting better firewall protection than on my own servers.”

 

The big opportunity: gaining trust to grow assets

Perhaps the biggest advantage for Prominence is the ability to report on client assets beyond what the firm is managing. “I advise on more assets than what I have under management, because I can use Black Diamond to provide performance and data aggregation to clients who have assets elsewhere. They aren’t getting the performance information they want from those other firms. My hope is that over time, we can provide some clarity as to what they’re getting for their money, and maybe bring those additional assets under management.”

Easing the administrative load

Like a lot of one-person firms, Prominence Capital needs to focus on clients and their portfolios— not on administration. “I have around 40 accounts,” James notes. “That’s not too much for one guy to handle, but for a growing business trying to save time and money, I needed something that would help me as I grew so I don’t have to spend money on administrative help.” James notes how Black Diamond helps alleviate much of the administrative burden of being one’s own boss, with support for:

  • Billing: “The billing functionality is great. I don’t have to do my own spreadsheet. It’s already set up for me and I just run it at the end of the month. All the calculations are done. It’s reliable.”
  • Outsourced reconciliation: “The Black Diamond team uncovered some discrepancies, which we quickly addressed. That’s been very helpful.”
  • Compliance readiness: “It was important to know this system would help with my compliance obligations. I can produce reliable billing, reporting calculations, and trade logs showing all the trades I’ve done on a particular day.”

 

Getting off to a great start

A key advantage of Black Diamond is its fast and easy implementation. “I needed to be up and running in three months,” James says. “I was up and running about a month ahead of schedule.”

“The human element was key,” James notes. “The people on the Black Diamond team are awesome. This is still a people business, even though we’re working with machines. Anytime there was an issue, they either found the solution or gave me an alternative that actually worked.”

James also appreciated the follow-up after the implementation—though he required very little hand-holding. “I’m pretty much a self-starter. This product is very user-friendly and intuitive. I just started to follow the training modules, and the next time I talked to my Implementation Consultant, I was already ahead of what she expected. It was so simple.”

Your edge

James had a chance to share his experience with another broker thinking of going independent. “I told him, ‘You’re competing with all the Wall Street firms and a bunch of regional RIAs. You need an edge. You need an integrated system that helps you offer your clients high-quality information and set yourself apart, something they can’t get anywhere else. That’s what Black Diamond can do for you.’ ”

To learn more about Prominence Capital, visit their website at www.prominencecapitalmanagement.com.

To learn how the Black Diamond Wealth Platform could transform your business, visit blackdiamond.advent.com, call 1-800-727-0605, or email info@advent.com.