Every year, we like to bring together top clients for an executive discussion where we share the latest Black Diamond developments and gain valuable feedback from some of our power users.
Kicking off this year’s Black Diamond Executive Forum was SVP and business unit leader Steve Leivent. Leivent welcomed the crowd by detailing the amazing growth story that is the Black Diamond Wealth Platform. “Black Diamond now serves over 1,400 firms, representing nearly $1 trillion in assets on the platform,” he said as he described the evolution of the technology that processes over 1.8 million end-client accounts daily.
“Because of this massive amount of data that we have, we will be able to extend Black Diamond into the world of Big Data, AI and Machine Learning to help advisors better manage their businesses and client relationships.” Some of this data will be in the form of peer benchmarking and business analytics, he said, so advisors can see how they stack up against other similar firms in terms of pricing, fees, AUM flows and more – all in real-time so advisors can make better decisions in managing their firms.
Following Leivent were a series of platform enhancements and new product launches from Black Diamond, including an updated billing platform, new features for the rebalancer and expanded integrations with custodians and other tech partners, including a streamlined account opening application. Additionally, Black Diamond adds in an environmental component because it saves 313 trees every year as advisors share 1.5 million pdf reports on the Black Diamond Client Experience portal, eliminating the need for printing and mailing.
Being a tech company, Black Diamond has keen insight into the emerging trends for how the industry is changing. Top among them, according to Senior Directors Eli George and Bjorn Widerstedt, was the “consumerification of wealth management,” e.g. the digital transformation that is happening across industries as people become comfortable with a digital experience. As a result, advisors need to increase the adoption of these tools and approaches with clients across the board in order to remain relevant.
Other key trends George and Widerstedt see include the growing outsourcing of investment management services as robos continue to commoditize investing; the declining profitability of advisory firms due to increasing regulatory costs; and an aging population of both advisors and clients. The result, Widerstedt says is the growing movement of advisors to seek out “one platform” that combines all of the technology apps and investing services they use to create the key efficiencies needed to manage in a more complex environment. “These trends also explain why so many asset managers and annuity companies are now racing to become technology providers and consultants,” he wryly noted.
Continuing the future-forward theme was a highly anticipated and well-received keynote from Dani Fava, Director of Innovation at TD Ameritrade Institutional. Fava spends her days researching the latest emerging technologies to help advisors read the tea leaves for how their businesses will change, while also looking to “productize” these technologies on the TD Ameritrade platform to help advisors better work with their future clients.
According to Fava, the best place to look for future technology applications is science fiction. “Science fiction has been extremely good at predicting the future,” she says pointing out many new products that were the subject of films and books that are now a reality today.
To help advisors get a sense of how their future clients will be looking to interact with them, Fava pointed out that, “Gen Z never had a desktop computer and grew up streaming content on mobile devices – not on cable or on TV.” As a result, this future generation will demand video interactions and alternative communication methods using holograms vs. face-to-face meetings, she predicts.
To learn more, check out the many tweets on the #BlackDiamond hashtag on Twitter.
Written by Timothy Welsh
President, Nexus Strategy, LLC