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17 November 2020

Five Big Trends to Watch

By Mike Betz

One of the best aspects of my role at SS&C Advent is the opportunity to meet and network with industry leaders, tech executives, innovative advisors, smart consultants, and others that have their finger on the pulse of change. This provides a tremendous opportunity to listen and learn about initiatives on the horizon that are primed to move the wealth management industry forward.

In fact, my colleague Tim Welsh of Nexus Strategy recently published an industry insights piece in Investment Advisor magazine. In it, he identified four “mega-trends” to provide fodder for your own strategic planning as we wrap up 2020. Below is a quick recap of those trends along with a few thoughts on how SS&C Advent’s Black Diamond® Wealth Platform is connecting the dots. I’ve also added my own fifth idea as well. 

1. Cloud Native

The evolution in operating systems from DOS, to Windows, to cloud-based, and now cloud native, shows the accelerated progression for information technology infrastructure as new methodologies, computing power, and data models get better and better. 

Cloud native technology means developers no longer need to install software or build and maintain business applications. The entire development and deployment of applications can now operate entirely inside cloud computing platforms – such as Amazon’s AWS or Microsoft Azure. Cloud native systems are built specifically to provide speed and agility with virtually limitless computing power and data storage.

The cloud native technology used by Black Diamond provides a wealth of efficiencies and productivity. It also means enhancements and updates to the platform are released at a more rapid pace, giving you the tools that will help you grow and scale your business.  To that point, enhancements are released every six weeks to the over 1,600 firms on the platform.

2. Video First

Wealth management has always been and will always be a relationship business.  But, what happens when in-person interactions are still months away?  How can advisors build and grow relationships at a distance?

As we are all experiencing, one such answer is video.  A “video first” strategy in these times of social distancing is critical to connecting with clients and prospects.  People want to see their advisor in these complicated times, so video communications are powerful, particularly as new prospects are both social distancing and Google searching for a financial advisor. Additionally, with the universal proliferation and adoption of video conferencing platforms such as Zoom, most investors are comfortable meeting and working with service professionals via video. Video communications are rapidly becoming the new norm, and leading firms are embracing video across the board.

3. Adding Value in a World of Free

One dramatic outcome of technology’s rapid transformation of the wealth management industry has been the powerful scale and efficiencies that have ripped just about every cost out of the investment management supply chain.  So much so, that a majority of investing and financial planning services are now being offered for free. Wealth managers at independent RIAs are finding this has substantial implications for how they deliver advice, and how they differentiate themselves. Just saying you’re an independent fee-based or fee-only RIA is no longer enough to differentiate a firm, when anyone can get comparable feature-rich services online and in-person for free.

Accordingly, being able to visibly demonstrate the value you provide by “showing your work” provides clients validation for the significant role you serve in looking after their financial wellbeing. The explosive use of the Black Diamond Relationship Timeline has shown to be a great answer. Working as a bi-directional communication tool, Timeline documents, and memorializes the value you deliver over time, in the familiar style of a Facebook or Instagram feed. Your clients have a direct, digital, and mobile way to send and receive updates on their investments and progress towards goals, as well as compelling insights on top financial planning and investment trends, issues, and developments.

4. Subscription Services

The “Netflix-ing” of just about every industry has also come to wealth management. By that, I’m speaking about the changing fee model of how advisors are compensated.  Specifically, it’s the unbundling and shifting of traditional AUM-based pricing to monthly subscriptions.  Although this fee-model has been around for a number of years, we’re seeing this trend accelerate.

What this means for wealth management is that the traditional practice of paying for advice through an AUM fee or a commission model is rapidly becoming unbundled, which provides clients additional choices along with new ways to pay for them.

This makes sense, as the industry has traditionally given away what clients value most – financial planning and personal relationships – while charging for commoditized investment management. 

5. The “RIA-ification” of Bank Trust

We’re seeing bank trust companies expanding their services into what traditionally has been provided by independent RIA wealth managers – what Doug Fritz of F2 Strategy calls the “RIA-ification” of bank trust.  Conversely, we’re also seeing more traditional RIA wealth managers finding that their clients could benefit from components of a bank trust relationship – the “trust-ification” of RIAs.  The overlap between RIA wealth managers and bank trusts continues to grow and historical business lines become increasingly blurry.  This hybrid-ground presents a unique opportunity for those businesses to adopt robust technology that can empower advisors to provide both a modern wealth management experience and bank trust services. 

Thoughtfully designed technology is a crucial component in ensuring advisors provide for great client outcomes and allow firms to stand out in an increasingly competitive space; and that’s exactly what we’ve been doing at SS&C Advent for over 30 years. On behalf of the entire team, we’d love to hear from you. Send us an email at info@advent.com to let us know what other trends you are seeing.

 

If you would like to learn more about how Black Diamond is staying ahead of industry trends and technology innovation, request a personalized demo today.