SS&C Technologies Holdings announced earlier this week that it would acquire Modestspark, a provider of client portal and digital client experience tools.
SS&C plans to embed the technology into its Axys and Advent Portfolio Exchange (APX) portfolio accounting systems. Eli George, a senior director of advisory solutions management at SS&C, said the idea behind the acquisition is to help the more than 1,500 wealth management firms still using Axys and APX, some for decades, take advantage of modern client communication tools without having to migrate the entire firm over to something like Black Diamond.
“The way they build the software, it’s accounting system-agnostic,” George said, adding that for some firms, moving their business to a technology platform can be like “heart transplant surgery.” As a pure overlay, Modestspark can provide a digital front-end experience for any accounting system.
George noted how SS&C had a reseller agreement with Modestspark before the acquisition, so the company was familiar with the software and how advisors use it.
He doesn't see the move as a sign that advisors aren’t adopting Black Diamond, as conversions rates have picked up this year.
“[ModestSpark is] another tool in the tool belt to help clients get to the cloud… for those unwilling to move or don’t want to go through a full transition,” George said.
But why are some advisory firms still resisting the transition to the cloud? Steve Leivent, SS&C senior vice president of Black Diamond and Advent outsourcing services, said demographics come into play. Some older advisors view their firm as a lifestyle practice, and many of their clients are of a similar age. They don’t plan to grow their firm or pass it along, so they don’t see a reason to spend effort on a full conversion. Modestspark’s technology also comes at a more affordable rate than an offering like Black Diamond.
“For firms that are growth minded and want to transition to the next generation – not just of clients but hand down the firm to junior principles – they’re thinking about staying competitive,” Leivent said. “It’s a need advisors have, but we see no reason to force them into a solution. We’re happy to have them stay on an older platform as long as they want, and give them new digital tools.”
The terms of the deal were not disclosed. Modestspark co-founders Brad Demeter and Brian Bero will join SS&C Advent.