Finding Opportunities Amid Difficulties

Blog
Bjorn Widerstedt – 12/22/2020

“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity” – Albert Einstein

Most people are afraid of change. While change often equals progress, I wonder what is more effective: voluntary or forced change? The tectonic-like shifts this year as a result of the global health crisis were abrupt and accelerated, and the impact was immediate. But, people and society have all evolved in a lasting way.

Even as a textbook introvert, I’ve realized how much I value in-person relationships. The energy that comes from working side-by-side with others can’t be replaced. We may have taken physical closeness for granted, but we’ve also evolved into more flexible individuals. Before 2020, most people didn’t know how to interact when on a video meeting, it felt too unnatural. Almost overnight, it became much more inherent as everyone learned how to collaborate virtually.

For advisors, I believe many have strengthened their client relationships this year since long-lasting reputations can be solidified in times of difficulty. Anyone can shine in good times. But, how do you show up in times of distress? By listening, caring, and clearly communicating, your clients will tell their friends, relatives, and kids: “2020 would have been much worse without the guidance of my financial advisor.”

We often talk about how the advisory space has been moving towards “financial planning” – but this year required us all to become more thoughtful planners. With more time to re-evaluate what matters most, many have taken the opportunity to dig deep to define long-term goals. We’ve also been forced into short-term planning, such as securing an adequate toilet paper supply or managing a “normal” workday with kids and pets constantly distracting.

Just as you likely experienced, maintaining an engaged team culture has become even harder. However, looking for the silver lining is key. For the people supporting the Black Diamond® Wealth Platform, witnessing and hearing how the product helped advisors and their clients navigate tough times is what propelled us forward. The platform continued to evolve, the community grew, and the future looks promising.

It was amazing to see Timeline posts surge 307 percent within the Client Experience portal, validating the importance of digital communication to uphold and strengthen advisor-client relationships.  Plus, the 242,000 rebalancing sessions initiated this year demonstrated the type of agility only afforded through technology. I saw firsthand the growth in technology reliance through the 102 percent increase in firm user logins and a 205 percent increase in client user logins. All of this has re-ignited a passion for our team to do even more to support a strong advisor-client relationship.

In my 13 years as a part of SS&C Advent’s Black Diamond team, I’ve never been more excited about the platform's progress and future strategy. Part of that excitement comes from the real value delivered to our clients, and the other part comes from knowing how the seeds we’ve planted will reap benefits for years to come. They say hindsight is 20/20 – but it is our choice to see difficulty or opportunity.

Below, I’ve summarized just a few of the platform enhancements that were introduced to Black Diamond clients this year. To learn more about joining the Black Diamond community, I encourage you to request a personalized demo today.

 

2020 PRODUCT ENHANCEMENT HIGHLIGHTS

Daily Digest: A daily email summarizing platform information pertinent to you.

Client View: The primary hub for all of your client information, reporting, analytics, documents, and communications.

Balance Sheet: Upgraded to include flexible grouping, pivoting, and streamlined account maintenance.

Cross-Application Workflows: Your clients can request cash directly through the Client Experience portal, kicking off a follow-through workflow for you within the Rebalancer.

Business Intelligence: Mutual fund look-through and super class target functionality were added to the firm-wide allocation report. Also, an advisor-level research report provides a view of day-over-day market values and returns.

Trade Reconciliation: An oversight experience where you can evaluate custodial transactions received via daily data reconciliation vs. trades created within the Rebalancer.

Custodial Integration:  Straight-through processing of billing files optimizes client-billing workflows. 

RMD Dashboard: Provides transparency into the status and details of distributions from retirement accounts for each of your clients and tracks the progress of remaining distributions.

Great Ideas: Client input and feedback are directly tied to platform progress. Over 250 client ideas were fulfilled this year.