The problem with most client-facing portals for financial advisors is that they take a one-size-fits-all approach.
But advisors have different types of clients, with different profiles, goals and preferences. And given that the financial advisory business is largely predicated on the need for personalized advice, that can be a problem, says Bob Conchiglia, vice president of advisory sales for Advent Software, which took home two “Outstanding Achievement” trophies at the recent Wealthmanagement.com Industry awards, for both its client portal and its portfolio management platform.
The Black Diamond Investor Experience was launched earlier this year to give advisors the ability to customize their client portal based on a variety of criteria.
“We really wanted to help our clients transform the way they communicate with their end investor,” Conchiglia said. “You have to touch all of your clients, and that may be unique for each and every one of those end investors.”
Advisors can set up different profiles for individuals or groups of clients; for instance, growth oriented clients who are hands on with their accounts get very different messages, notifications and information on the portal than more conservative clients invested only in fixed-income bonds for the long term and who prefer to hear from the advisor only once a year.
The profiles are also searchable, so an advisor could, for instance, look across all their clients who are invested in a particular fund and send them all a message if there is new information impacting the investment.
The investor experience was developed with mobile in mind, taking advantage of push notifications and responsive design templates.
“The method by which these end investors are accessing information from their advisors obviously has shifted to more of a mobile platform,” Conchiglia said.
The portal was the first component of Advent’s larger rollout of the Black Diamond Integration Network, which also won a Wealth Management Award for best portfolio management technology. Customization is the guiding principal there too: It’s an open-architecture platform that lets advisors access other software tools for customer management or financial planning, within the portfolio management system.
It’s designed to let advisors choose whichever suite of tools they like best, even if they choose some that compete with Black Diamond itself. It currently integrates with 50 third-party providers.
“We wanted to be that source, that general contractor, that brought together all of those pieces of technology that clients are using and solve that puzzle for them,” Conchiglia said. “We want it to be a full experience for the advisor and everything that they need to run their business.”
While “integration” is a buzzword in the financial technology world right now, Conchiglia believes Black Diamond stands out for how they have structured their platform. One example is the presentation mode, which brings in information from a variety of apps and formats—such as a report from Black Diamond, a financial plan from MoneyGuidePro, an Excel spreadsheet and a proposal from Advisory World— into a digital presentation with a consistent look and feel.
Going forward, Advent wants to aggregate data beyond investment accounts and move into areas like credit cards and loans, to provide what Conchiglia calls “total net worth reporting.” He also wants improve rebalancing, add workflows and expand the Integration Network.
“You never stop with these platforms,” Conchiglia said. “We’re continually evolving.”