Lincoln Ross is the CEO and president of CircleBlack Inc., a leading cloud-based software platform helping advisors better manage their clients’ wealth while growing and deepening advisor-client relationships in the digital age. Prior to joining CircleBlack, Ross was chief of business operations at Envestnet.
Russ Alan Prince: Tell me about CircleBlack and your cloud-based software platform and approach to customized wealth stack solutions.
Lincoln Ross: CircleBlack provides a core set of advisor-client communication capabilities that can flexibly integrate with a financial advisor’s preferred specialty software solutions. We deliver a visually compelling and easy-to-use interface that facilitates high-quality advisor-client communications and simplifies day-to-day operational activities.
We offer integrations with leading CRM, financial planning, and risk assessment software solutions. Our core capabilities include performance reporting, billing, trading, and rebalancing, and a client portal that includes a document vault for sharing files. Clients can access the client portal through the web or mobile app.
We work with advisors to determine our product roadmap and are transparent about what is being built and what is in the backlog. We publicly share this information in our open community portal through our website, CircleBlack.com. Our advisors have a big influence on our projects. We develop and enhance our software product following agile best practices and deliver meaningful product updates every two weeks.
Our open sharing of product backlogs and roadmaps is part of our overall company mission to be fully transparent with our community. We are currently serving over 1,200 advisors, and we encourage an active dialogue with all of them. Our goal is to build the best product possible so that advisors can help their clients achieve their financial goals.
Prince: How can wealth managers use technology to drive growth?
Ross: Financial advisors are increasingly looking to technology to enhance their businesses, recognizing that better client relationships, greater operational efficiency, and future growth are made more accessible and more effective with an investment in tech that is built upon a modern and flexible architecture that has an intuitive interface which next-gen clients expect.
Tech can automate routine tasks such as rebalancing, performance reporting, client communication, understanding financial goals, and risk management. This frees up time for higher-value activities such as developing new investment strategies and building client relationships.
Client engagement through online portals or mobile apps provides clients access to their investment portfolios and other financial information. This is a great way to streamline communication, build trust, and strengthen the advisor and client relationship.
Technology can help advisors streamline their operations, improve decision-making, and better serve their clients, which can ultimately drive growth for their business.
Prince: Why is the client-focused experience so critical and how can it allow wealth managers to focus more on clients?
Ross: The client-focused experience is critical because there is a rapidly growing demographic of investors opting to partner with advisors who offer them a more client-focused experience. They demand transparency on how financial plans are developed, how financial advice is determined, and how investment reporting gets done. Trust is critical to ensure a deep and lasting relationship.
Providing a high-quality client experience can involve several factors, such as regular communication. Keeping clients informed about their investments, performance, and any changes to their portfolio can help build trust and show that the advisor is working in the client's best interests. Doing this personally and tailoring services to meet each client's specific needs and goals can show that the advisor is committed to helping them achieve their financial objectives. Clients and advisors alike are looking for ways to make it easier for clients to access information and communicate more seamlessly.
Transparency is also vital. Clients expect transparency regarding fees, strategies, and risks. Clients want to understand what they are paying for and why. An open, transparent dialogue builds trust.
By focusing on the client experience, advisors can build strong relationships with their clients and position themselves as trusted advisors. This can ultimately lead to increased retention and referrals, which can drive growth for the business.
RUSS ALAN PRINCE is the Executive Director of Private Wealth magazine (pw-mag.com) and Chief Content Officer for High-Net-Worth Genius (hnwgenius.com). He consults with family offices, the wealthy, fast-tracking entrepreneurs, and select professionals.