A day after Advent Software announced that it would buy Black Diamond Performance Reporting in a $73 million deal, the latter’s founder and chief executive officer Reed Colley, says its clients have made one thing clear: Do not change the culture of the firm.
The companies announced the deal on Thursday evening, so it is still fresh with its clients. They have not deluged Jacksonville, Fla.-based Black Diamond with questions, but they want it to stay true to itself, Colley said. The firm was founded in 2003.
“This is change, so it leads people to their darkest places,” Colley said in a telephone interview. Colley says he was convinced the deal was right after Black Diamond’s top officials met with Advent’s executive team during a due diligence session in March. Colley says he pictured the teams sitting at opposite sides of a table, perhaps with the Advent side peppering Black Diamond with questions. The reality was very different.
“They were incredibly open and humble,” Colley said in a telephone conversation Friday afternoon. “They mood was, ‘we want to understand more about how you do what you are doing,’ and ‘maybe we should rethink some of the things we do.’”
Naturally, Black Diamond’s clientele —the independent advisors, wealth managers, broker-dealers, banks and family offices—might wonder what changes Advent Software has in store for it. Indeed, Advent has more than 4,400 clients in over 60 countries. It operates two other large business groups, one for asset managers and hedge funds and alternative managers. It also has acquired thousands of smaller businesses in the past.
“In times past, probably they’ve felt we were more focused on the needs of asset managers,” Pete Hess, president of Advent software, said during the same interview.
Indeed, Advent counts more than 3,400 asset managers among its clients, as well as nine of world’s top 10 prime brokers, and 25 of the top hedge fund administrators.
“We’ll retain all of the product suites,” Hess said. “It is not that we want to sunset any product or de-emphasize investment in any product. We to want focus products in the markets where they are most inclined to succeed.”
Hess said he expects to close the transaction by the end of the second quarter. Colley said the idea of joining Advent is not about the deal itself, but what will happen in the subsequent days and months.
“We have a ‘servant-based’ approach toward our clients,” Colley said. “We cannot do anything to spoil that.”
The profiles of the two companies suggest that they will be working together. Indeed, about 70% of the industry’s largest RIA firms globally use Advent products, according to the company.
Colley particularly noted the Advent Custodial Data (ACD) application, which collects and normalizes data feeds from the industry’s top asset custodians. This gives financial advisors broad freedoms to choose which firm they want to work with, be it Trust Company of America, Pershing Advisor Solutions, Schwab Advisor Services or any of the industry’s other top firms.
Whatever happens in the months ahead, Colley says Black Diamond Performance Reporting is committed to pushing ahead with technology and service offerings. Colley recalls that it launched BlueSky last September, to anticipate what advisors might need to run their practices.
Colley will become general manager of the Black Diamond group, and hold a place on its senior management team, He will report to Hess.
“They are proud of their culture, proud of the way they do business. Advent is ultra-attracted to that,” Hess said. “We are going to be careful not to stifle or change them. We want to put more fuel in their tank. That engine runs pretty well.”