At this year’s SS&C Advisory Executive Forum, executives from leading RIA firms and partners gathered for practice management sessions, networking, and fun in Atlantic Beach, Florida. The event's key theme focused on growth and the latest developments from various SS&C solutions, including the Black Diamond® Wealth Platform, Rendezvous, Salentica® CRM, Innovest, and the Risk and Compliance Intelligence Platform.
M&A as a Growth Strategy for RIAs
This year, the Forum featured a high-profile keynote speech from Kevin O'Leary, Founder and Chairman of O'Shares Investments, also known as "Mr. Wonderful," for his entertaining role as one of the investors on the top-rated Shark Tank TV series. O'Leary provided his wisdom and insights from a long career of investing, mergers, acquisitions, and financing private deals while sharing leadership stories and his perspective on the markets.
Along these lines of M&A, the Forum hosted an energetic panel discussion on the state of inorganic growth in the RIA industry. Ed Swenson, COO of Dynasty Financial Partners, Kim Kovalski of MarshBerry, and Ed Moore of DeVoe & Co., regaled the audience with their take on the current buying and selling trends and overall succession planning readiness of the RIA space. Despite the recent slow-down in deals from record levels these past few years, the panel all agreed that activity would remain strong and valuations would remain high.
For sellers, the best advice to maximize valuation is to clean up their finances (remove personal line items such as car leases, etc.), find ways to become more efficient, and, if possible, drive organic growth, as these are the key levers to push upon for owners. At the same time, they all stressed that cultural alignment was critical for achieving success, so when evaluating potential partners, sometimes an excellent cultural fit is much better than a higher price.
The panel also agreed that the entrance of private equity investors had been a good thing for the industry, as the financing provides the liquidity to get deals done while also sharing risk with firm principals to accelerate their growth. But on the other hand, they did provide caution that when firms have outside investors, the temptation to streamline service and support a bigger client base could have the potential to dampen the high level of personalization and customization that independent, fiduciary RIAs are known for.
Learnings from the Executive Forum
The Forum was an excellent venue to showcase new platform functionality and how SS&C is investing significantly in further innovation. For example, to help advisors provide a holistic experience to their clients, the Black Diamond team introduced a new financial planning experience created in collaboration with RightCaptial.
This financial planning experience is a centralized space for viewing clients' financial plans, all connected seamlessly with Black Diamond's communication features. This space provides advisors with a consistent layout for viewing financial plan data within Client View, the Client Experience portal, and the platform’s mobile app. By connecting seamlessly with these communication tools, a comprehensive view of the client's holistic financial life empowers advisors to continue to add value and strengthen their overall client relationships.
Another significant capability introduced at the Forum, which created a strong buzz among the attendees, was the launch of SS&C Rendezvous, a turnkey model marketplace, and wealth management platform that allows advisors to save time, lower implementation costs, and personalize investment-decision making to elevate the client experience.
Powered by ALPS Advisors, the open architecture boutique investment manager that delivers portfolio building blocks and active insight for SS&C, Rendezvous will provide manager research, model construction, proposal generation, and tax-efficient rebalancing. Under a "goals-based investing" approach, Rendezvous includes over 50 active and passive ETFs that ALPS Advisors' portfolio managers will leverage to construct target-risk strategy models tailored to a client's long-term goals and objectives. These seamlessly integrate into Black Diamond’s Rebalancer to provide a modular architecture enabling advisor-led and client-directed workflows.
As part of the fun factor, this year’s 2023 Advisory Executive Forum ended with a journey to Ponte Vedra Beach for the first round of THE PLAYERS Championship, one of the highlights of the PGA tour. The group gathered on the 16th fairway to watch golf’s finest navigate the famous TCP Sawgrass course.
As the leading provider of capabilities for Advisors & Wealth Managers, SS&C supports over 4,000 RIAs, IBDs, Banks, Trust Companies, and Family Offices, accounting for an aggregate AUM of more than $4T. For more information on how SS&C can support the unique needs of your business, request your personal demo, call 1-800-727-0605, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.