A little shy of two years since our acquisition of Black Diamond, the marketplace and media are understandably still keeping a watchful eye on how Advent is developing the business. From our perspective, the combination of Black Diamond and Advent has been incredibly successful and we highly value having the Black Diamond team on board.
Our purpose as a company is to help our clients to thrive and transform the investment industry, and one way we measure success is the rate at which firms entrust us with their business. When we joined forces two years ago, our hope was that Advent could help accelerate Black Diamond’s success while Black Diamond would help Advent to fulfill our purpose in the advisory space – and that is exactly how it is working out.
The Black Diamond client base has grown over 70% in less than two years. At the same time, Axys clients are staying with us at a significantly higher rate, which tells me that the our advisory clients trust that Advent is committed to the advisory marketplace for the long term, and they know they can switch to another Advent system if and when their business requires it.
Black Diamond and our renewed focus on the advisory market has been a personal passion for me, and these results are tremendously gratifying for me and for the whole Advent team given how important our advisory clients and the market are to the future of our company.
From a structural perspective, we’ve seen a lot of value in keeping Black Diamond as an independent group to ensure that we stay focused on driving innovation and serving clients. Black Diamond is not just a product and service, but it is also a team, a culture and a unique value proposition for our clients that must be allowed to innovate and lead. We will continue to invest heavily in the Black Diamond business. The competition is strong and our commitment is to provide our clients with every competitive advantage we can. Advent will not rest on its laurels.
I continue to be inspired by the innovation that Black Diamond delivers to its clients, and it’s been exciting to see what happens when the best of both companies have come together. Amazingly, Black Diamond has had over 25 releases to its platform in the last two years. One highlight has been Black Diamond’s integration with Advent Custodial Data (ACD), enabling our clients to grow their business with the benefit of the highest quality data available from the industry’s most comprehensive custodial data integration service.
Another big 2012 win for our Black Diamond clients was the delivery of fully integrated rebalancing capabilities so that they can execute their rebalancing and trading workflows with the benefit of a single, seamless user experience at no additional cost. We also delivered new alternative investment functionality in Black Diamond in 2012, enabling firms to manage and report details down to the transaction level and provide a more complete financial picture to their clients.
Black Diamond has made, and continues to make, an already strong Advent team even stronger. With Black Diamond as part of our family, Advent has an unwavering commitment to the advisory marketplace and executing on our plans to do great things for our advisory clients. The entire executive management and extended Advent team is thrilled that we are able to continue our journey as an independent company focused on helping our clients thrive.
As CEO and President of Advent Software, Pete Hess has responsibility for vision, strategy and execution across Advent’s global business. Follow Pete on Twitter.
Three years ago, I moved my family from the San Francisco Bay Area to Jacksonville to join Black Diamond. My friends in Silicon Valley were baffled by (OK, scoffed at) my decision to join a technology start-up on the other side of the country and joked about my move to the land of cutoff jeans, tank tops and blue hair.
But two things gave me the feeling a sea change in the advisor industry was on the horizon. First, I saw advisors grappling with market uncertainty, increased client demands and a need to get more productive fast. Second, I saw a fast-growing firm that combined new technology (the cloud) with outsourcing of reconciliation and data management and backing it with an intense service mentality focused on advisor success.
Now firmly settled in Florida, my family recently took a day trip to Fernandina Beach, a quaint fishing village just north of the Black Diamond office. It’s a great spot for vacationers or retirees escaping to the simple coastal life. What’s less known, however, is that Fernandina pioneered the modern shrimping industry.
Fernandina’s emergence began in the early 1900s, driven by two technology innovations that fundamentally changed shrimping worldwide. The first was the use of the powerboat, which allowed fishing offshore rather than only in the inland waterways. Second was the use of “doors” (in some cases doors from the captain’s house) to pull large nets down to the muddy ocean floor where, as any good shrimper knows, is where the shrimp live.
These two innovations caused annual shrimp production in Fernandina to explode in just one year from 30,000 to over 3 million pounds. And they allowed one captain to run a boat on his own or a small crew instead of needing six to eight crew members. That’s a 100-times improvement in production with 1/6th the manpower. That’s transformational.
The story of transformation in the shrimping industry offers clues to the massive impact technology innovations could have on the advisory industry. New technology – the cloud, mobile and social – will fundamentally change how advisors run their firms and communicate with clients.
Transformation in our industry may not be as fast as it was in Fernandina, but it’s inevitable, exciting and presents a huge opportunity for advisors to be successful “captains” of their own ships. Our job at Advent and Black Diamond is making sense of all the technology and creating simple, elegant solutions to real business problems and opportunities.
Twenty months after the acquisition by Advent, Black Diamond – and most importantly our clients – continues to flourish. We have produced close to 50 new releases to our platform, added over 300 financial institutions to our direct automated feeds through ACD, and launched new capabilities in rebalancing and alternative investments. Moreover, we now have formal relationships with all of the leading RIA custodians.
We are by no means standing still. In 2013 we are enhancing the platform even further and investing in the people that service our clients. We have doubled our staff in product development and client service since the acquisition, and all of them are laser-focused on optimizing the experience of our clients. I know I speak for the entire Advent and Black Diamond team when I say it truly is an honor to serve our clients. We are as passionate as ever about supporting advisor greatness and we aim to earn our clients’ business every day.
As Vice President and General Manager, Black Diamond, Dave is chartered with setting the company’s strategy in the advisory market and leading Advent’s Black Diamond business unit.
Great companies never stand still or accept complacency. They constantly evolve, adapt and anticipate change, which is what makes them leaders.
We’ve been through a lot of change at Advent in our 29 year history, always in pursuit of the best ways to help you thrive and transform the investment management industry. Now, as we move into our 30th year, we are embarking on a new phase of our evolution, as I outlined at AdventConnect last month. As we move forward, we are guided by a few core tenets: we will focus on our core business and strive to be the best at the capabilities you expect from us; we will deliver solutions that support your different lines of business both via enterprise and Cloud deployment; we will be user and workflow-centric rather than product-centric; we will think globally and build for global requirements from the beginning; and we will openly partner with high-quality partners who best complement our offering.
To execute on this strategy, we are making a few adjustments to our organization to make Advent more agile in solution development and more collaborative in solution and service delivery. At a high level, we are moving from a business-unit structure to a global functional structure. At the heart of it are three client-facing functional groups: a solution strategy and market development group led by Chris Momsen; a solutions development group led by Todd Gottula; and a services and support organization led by Anthony Sperling.
Outside the United States, we will maintain our strong localized sales and service approach, with the benefit of Hakan Valberg’s continued sales and marketing leadership in EMEA as well as direct ties back into Todd Gottula and Anthony Sperling’s global solution development, support and services organizations.
Black Diamond development and service delivery remain unchanged under the leadership of new General Manager Dave Welling. Reed Colley, Black Diamond’s founder has moved into a Corporate Strategy role reporting to me.
What will the impact of these changes be to our clients? I am confident that the changes will reap positive results for our clients as Advent consolidates efforts to provide greater investment and quality solutions in the areas where we should be the best. Whether your business is comprised of one or of many lines of business, our new structure will enable Advent to adapt our offerings in new and more valuable ways to help you succeed.
I truly believe this new structure will set the stage for Advent and our clients to lead our industry well into the future, as we have over the last 30 years. More to the point, it will set both our employees and our clients up for even greater success in the years to come. As always, we welcome your questions and comments.
As CEO and President of Advent Software, Pete Hess has responsibility for vision, strategy and execution across Advent’s global business. Follow Pete on Twitter.
It’s been one year since Black Diamond’s merger with Advent, and while no merger is easy, we’re very excited with what we’ve accomplished for our clients. It’s clear that bringing these two companies together has been very successful with even better things to come.
When Pete and I first met over a year ago we both agreed that if we were going to work together, the driving reason had to be that we both believed that our efforts combined would produce better results for our clients and our industry. We’ve been highly focused on how to best leverage our respective strengths to enhance and create an even better platform through focus, solutions and partnership:
We know that advisors and investment managers can behave very differently depending on their business focus. By moving from being competitors to collaborators, Black Diamond and Advent have been able to work together to find the best solution for each and every client, depending on their workflows. We’re also better able to support firms with dual or multiple business models, such as RMB Capital Management, who chose the dual platform option, Black Diamond and APX, to support both lines of business within the firm.
In the past year, Black Diamond has developed a native rebalancing solution that is built into the core Black Diamond portfolio management and reporting platform, BlueSky. The rebalancer is currently in beta with over 50 Black Diamond clients and will be generally available to additional advisors June 21, 2012, the two year anniversary of the launch of BlueSky. We’ve also added new alternative investment reporting capabilities and have begun to leverage Advent’s capabilities in data access and management, including, most notably, Advent Custodial Data (ACD) which, over time, will dramatically expand Black Diamond’s direct access with thousands of financial institutions.
Prior to the merger, both companies valued their cultures very highly, and we’ve really worked together to understand how to build a better, stronger culture that is laser focused on our clients’ success. To be the best partners possible to our clients, we have collaborated in our sales and service teams as well as shared best practices amongst our product and development groups to best align with our clients’ and prospective clients’ needs. In the case of sticking points and disagreement, we have been able to sit down and work out a united course of action that we are all behind. The openness and collaboration on both sides has been fantastic, and a couple of folks from other areas of Advent have moved into the Black Diamond business unit and vice versa. At the same time, we’ve added more than 35 people, mostly in our client services organization, to ensure that we provide the support our clients expect from a great partner.
After 12 months, it’s helpful to look back at what we have accomplished, but I believe we are just getting started! I’ve been spending a lot of my time with the Advent team in San Francisco, and our bond will only be getting stronger now that my family (and dog) will be relocating there later this month. I believe the move will enable us to continue to combine our strengths, drive innovation towards future solutions, and ensure that we are aligned with our clients on their paths to greatness.
It has been an incredible journey this past year and it couldn’t have happened without the support of our clients, partners, and the team of Advent and Black Diamond. Thanks to all, and I am personally very excited about an even better year two.
Reed Colley joined Advent in 2011 and is responsible for setting the company’s Advisory strategy and leading Advent’s Black Diamond business unit.
Last month, RIABiz named Advent President Pete Hess “the most influential figure in the RIA business going into 2012.” It was great to see Pete recognized for leading the charge in changing the way Advent serves the advisory market. When he reached out to me a year ago to start a conversation about how Black Diamond and Advent could work together, I couldn’t have imagined that our two companies would partner, let alone join forces – and as surprised as I was to get Pete’s call, I know that many of our clients were shocked by the news. I’m grateful to all of you for believing in us and giving us a chance to prove to you that we, together, could accelerate Black Diamond’s ability to provide great solutions and service and keep earning your business every day.
I’m proud and honored to report that the last 12 months have been our best year ever – in fact, we added more than 80 new clients, expanding the community of Black Diamond clients to over 340 firms. That means that there are more people than ever helping us to enhance and grow the platform and find new ways to support advisor workflows and help our clients do great things. We are also in beta on our rebalancer solution, which we built to be intuitive, smart and native to the platform for maximum ease-of-use and workflow productivity. We designed it that way because we realize that every efficiency gain we can deliver to our clients’ workflow means more opportunities for our clients to focus on growing their businesses and delivering amazing client service.
We’re excited about our rebalancing solution and are working on many other things to improve our clients’ productivity. Every day since we started Black Diamond almost eight years ago, we have asked ourselves how we can be the best possible partner to our clients – and that has stayed true to this day. In their profile on Pete, RIABiz proclaimed that this merger “may, in retrospect, prove to be far and away the most significant and positive event [for advisors] in 2011.” We think this is just the beginning. Partnering with the industry pioneer has added fuel to our engine, and we have so many exciting opportunities ahead to help our clients in even more powerful ways. I personally look forward to, and am humbled by, the opportunity to continue helping advisors on their path to greatness.
Reed Colley is Senior Vice President and General Manager of Black Diamond. Reed joined Advent in 2011 and is responsible for setting the company’s Advisory strategy and leading Advent’s Black Diamond business unit.
With the recent acquisition of Black Diamond, and the many conversations with our clients, our partners and our employees, we’d had the exciting opportunity to ask ourselves these fundamental questions.
We are that rare thing: a company big enough and healthy enough to know that we will be around for at least another 28 years, but small enough to make adjustments and refinements to our strategies in response to our market’s evolving dynamics.
What hasn’t changed is our goal: to significantly increase the value we bring to clients and strengthen our culture, building the foundation for great performance over the long term.
How are we going to do that? By staying focused on five key strategies that are client-centric:
- Lead the global hedge fund/alternative manager community by offering innovative solutions with unparalleled depth, flexibility, and scale.
- Foster the growth and success of asset managers around the world with innovative, localized functionality, ease of use, and convenience of ownership.
- Deliver innovative, simple and elegant solutions to help advisors be great.
- Earn our clients’ admiration every day with an unparalleled client experience.
- Lift Advent higher through a commitment to enriching our global culture, people and community.
Why these strategies? Because if we do right by our clients, by each other, and by our community, Advent will prosper as a company and be well set up to deliver continued client and employee growth over the long term.
Pete Hess: After having spent a few weeks on the road and meeting with a few Black Diamond clients, some of our custodial partners, and some Advent clients, I think I have a good understanding of the questions and concerns you might have. Advent, through its own journey, came to the realization that the advisory market place requires a much higher degree of focus than we have been giving it in the past. We are thrilled to be partnered with Black Diamond, who we believe is the strongest player in that market and an outstanding company, that we actually expect will help Advent be a better company.
Reed Colley: We know this was a little surprising – why Advent? Candidly, it’s a little surprising to me personally to be sitting here four months [after my first call with Pete], presenting this. We’ve always been looking for the opportunity to grow our impact on the market and grow our ability to help you on your path to greatness. We’ve explored a lot of things to help us get there, many of those discussions prompted by you as partners, telling us where we should we going over time. Four months ago, Pete gave called me and shared his vision for the market and what he thought we could do together for the market, and his idea of what we could do together as a combined entity.
Honestly, my perception of Advent and their philosophy and strategies was not the one he was sharing. So my management team decided to dig in a little bit more – and what we found out was, they were a lot different than we thought. And meeting with the senior leadership team, we were just incredibly impressed at every turn. You could pretty much take any member of their team, folks we’ve gotten to know over these last couple months, and put them into Black Diamond and they would be a phenomenal fit and a phenomenal teammate inside of our organization.
Throughout this, Advent has been really clear with us – Pete and Stephanie DiMarco have been really clear – they want to cultivate what makes us great. They do not want to change Black Diamond. They just want to add fuel to the engine. And, you know, we pushed on that – saying, “well, gosh you’ve done this for 28 years, you’ve got to have your own ideas about this…” And they said, “You know, we think for this space – advisory – you’ve got the right solution, and you’ve got the right partners and clients, and we want to continue to see that grow and foster it as much as we can.”
Pete Hess: We recognize that they are a different company, operating with a different foundation – a pure SaaS-based deployment model, a different development model – they have a lot of best practices, frankly, that we’re going to be adopting across all of Advent. And, from a cultural perspective, we see them as a very strong addition to Advent, and we’ll be emulating a lot of what they do. So the experience and the learnings will not just flow from Advent to Black Diamond but probably equally from Black Diamond back to Advent, which was one of the big attractions of this “marriage.”
To view the complete web seminar, click here.