If you want to get a view into what is driving the RIA industry, then all you have to do is hang out for a few days at the SS&C Deliver Conference, which was held earlier this fall in steamy Orlando, Florida.
SS&C is a global behemoth of financial technology, having grown rapidly through acquisitions, most notably of the popular Black Diamond and Advent Software portfolio management systems — used by thousands of RIAs on a daily basis to run their businesses.
Accordingly, SS&C attracts a diverse group of advisors, vendors, executives and industry experts all focused on how to leverage technology to enhance the client experience that advisors deliver, as well as drive operational efficiencies, productivity and scale so that RIAs can continue on their impressive growth curves.
Some compelling sessions were led by the Black Diamond team, including one featuring Bjorn Widerstedt, VP, Product Strategy and Design. Widerstedt is known for his thought-provoking sessions, and he delivered again this year with his hour of content focused on how to “Embrace the Future of Wealth Management.”
His research of investor perspectives revealed some compelling takeaways for how advisors need to re-architect their businesses to ensure firms will be delivering in the right way in the future.
Summarized into a number of categorical statements/questions, these profound perceptions from investors show how far advisors need to go to remain paramount in their clients’ lives.
1. “I need a financial life coach, but it is hard to find one” — so what should I do?
Investors are more often looking beyond just investing and planning services from their advisor to a broader set of services and deliverables as advisor value propositions are shifting in this new direction, according to Widerstedt.
2. “Why am I paying for this, when I only want that?”
This is the classic mis-pricing that comes with basis points on AUM fees facing investors, forcing them into a trade-off of accepting a bundle they don’t necessarily want.
Investors want value financial planning, yet that service offering and support is bundled into an investment management service, which rapidly is becoming commoditized.
This disconnect is becoming even more pronounced in today’s increasingly digital world, meaning that advisors will need to bifurcate these services, price them differently, and perhaps consider subscription models or discrete fee-based planning engagements in the future.
3. “If Google can be fast and connected, why can’t my financial apps be as easy to use?”
Widerstedt says this question illustrates the slow pace of change in investor technology that is becoming more pronounced as client expectations for a better digital experience rapidly increase.
4. “Don’t make me go looking for stuff, just tell me what I need to do.” This statement laments the fact that there’s just too much information in financial services; investors want direct feedback and guidance that (only) advisors can provide through an elegant client portal and a better digital experience.
The good news for advisors is that Black Diamond is actively investing in new capabilities to provide answers for many of these investor concerns such as new integrations for the Black Diamond Client Experience Portal and tying into clients’ timelines through SS&C Salentica, RightCapital, SMartX, Redtail, Asset Map, Riskalyze and Life Yield.
Other platform news was the integration of Hidden Levers, and new capabilities from SS&C Salentica in the form of Engage, a CRM platform for Microsoft Dynamics along with its automated workflow platform “Flow.”
These tightly integrated platforms aim to work together and create a robust digital onboarding capability, which was energetically demonstrated in an impressive, live session by Dave Ireland, co-general manager of SS&C Salentica.
RIA Growth Streak