It should be emphasized that all of these cards are customizable, and each card has a lot of data settings that can be adjusted to meet a firm’s needs. The firm can dictate what information appears on each card, which cards are included in a deck, whether benchmarks are included, the color scheme of the cards and the order of the cards. Black Diamond currently offers a good selection of card templates, and it is a good bet that many more will be added based on advisor requests.

The next card on my deck was the document vault. Here, you can upload common file types such as PDF files, Word documents and PowerPoint presentations. These can include account opening forms, wire transfer forms, market outlooks, newsletters, etc. When you upload a document for clients, they get a notification. When they upload a document for you, you get a notification. This is a good, secure way to communicate and collaborate with clients. Advisory firms have full control over the document vault file structure. They can set up one or more default hierarchies and use those to populate all the vaults.

The accounts card displays the traditional pie chart by class or by asset. You can also convert these charts to a line chart if you prefer. As was the case with other cards, you can drill down for more details. My next card was an allocation against the target, and my final card was transactions.

Since the iPad gives you more screen space to work with, the experience is a bit different. At the top bar, the firm logo is displayed to the left of the notification icon. There is no bottom bar, since it is not necessary for navigation. The main portion of the screen has more of a dashboard feel. When you hold the iPad in portrait mode, two or more cards are displayed. You can scroll down to see additional cards. Here, some cards display as double the size of others. For example, transactions are double the width to allow for the display of additional columns.

On a computer, you have even more screen, so there is a much more full dashboard, with lots of cards visible. If you click on a single card, the other cards disappear for the time being and the card you clicked on moves to the center of the screen. You can also do things like run the mouse over a portion of a pie chart, which shows you a pop-up bubble. These types of things are easier and more comfortable to read on the larger screen.

Overall, the new Black Diamond client experience is a pleasing and robust one. Advisory firms have a great deal of flexibility with regard to granting permissions and customizing the client experience. I like the notification capabilities, particularly the ability to mine Black Diamond data and use it to create custom lists of clients who will receive notifications. I also like the “highlights” concept. I suspect Black Diamond will add more notification templates over time.

The card concept works well. It allows each firm to customize the user experience for its clients, groups of clients or each individual client. I would not recommend creating a unique experience for each client, but it is certainly possible.

There were a few minor issues that I’d like to see addressed. The first is that in the landscape mode, the top bar sometimes interfered with my view of the uppermost cards. This should be an easy fix. The other is the lack of integrations at this time.

The notification functionality would be much more powerful if it integrated with leading custodians and CRM providers. I know that Black Diamond is working on integrating some elements of the MoneyGuidePro financial planning reports into its reporting solution, but there is a great deal more integration work that needs to be done.

Based on what we’ve seen so far, it appears that Black Diamond will be delivering a much-improved client experience to end investors. If the company can pull off the same magic when it tackles the advisor workstation, the future looks bright, but that’s a story for another day. 

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