Hiking up any formidable summit requires experience, expert guidance, and determination to succeed. Navigating a Black Mountain implementation is no different. It can be a challenging and complex experience for asset managers that are not prepared to embark on the journey.
What is Black Mountain?
Black Mountain is a best-in-class, industry-standard provider of highly configurable front- and middle-office software solutions for investment managers. Part of newly formed Allvue Systems, owned by Vista Equity Partners, Black Mountain is an innovative suite of solutions for portfolio management, trading, credit research, and direct lending. Investment firms utilize Black Mountain to streamline critical business processes that are at the heart of all front- and middle- office activities.
- Research Management: Integrates deal pipeline, analyst commentary, and ongoing coverage with trading activity and portfolio exposures. Includes the ability to push Excel-based financial templates into Black Mountain for aggregate research analytics.
- Trade Order Management: Streamlines order entry with broad asset class coverage including loans, bonds, municipal securities, equity, CDS, ABS, MBS, futures/options, swaps, repos, FX, and real estate. Easily accommodates data input controls, alerts, and custom portfolio allocation methodologies.
- Portfolio Management: Dynamic dashboards, charts, and analytics are tied to trading activity for all supported asset classes. Additionally, 3rd party data sets can be incorporated into the system to provide robust reporting capabilities to meet changing company, market, and regulatory needs.
- Compliance Management: Supports pre- and post-trade portfolio compliance via a powerful and robust compliance calculation engine.
- Data Warehouse: Facilitates historical data capture and reporting requirements. Enterprise data management tools can be leveraged in the system to define data priority, conflict resolution, and alert users using rule-based data gap checks.
Source: Black Mountain Systems
What to Know Before Getting Started with a New Black Mountain Implementation
- Get Help Early: Don’t assume that you only need help after a Black Mountain contract is signed and the implementation officially begins. There is valuable preparation work that can and should begin well ahead of any Black Mountain implementation. The clearer current and desired future state are defined (and documented) before involving the Allvue implementation team will only improve the quality of overall system design, reduce the risk of misinterpretation, and will save time/budget in the long-run.
- Don’t Rush the Scoping Process: In a similar theme, resist the urge to “just get the implementation started”. Black Mountain implementations start with a handful of scoping sessions/workshops to formally outline the core project scope, assumptions, and risks in the form of a Scope Document. While additional requirements gathering will take place in an agile fashion throughout the project, the initial Scope Document will govern your initial project budget. It is easy to misinterpret what you are getting if you are not familiar with Black Mountain and it is important to manage expectations on all sides.
- Out-of-the-Box Solutions Still Need Initial Configuration: Every Black Mountain client is different. Even though Black Mountain has a treasure trove of standard, out-of-the-box features and functions, much of it still requires configuration before being usable in a production environment.
- You Need to Understand Your Data: Garbage in really is garbage out. Not only does data need to be clean before being consumed by Black Mountain, but you need to be proactive about how to resolve data conflicts. This includes understanding data origination, priority, and downstream reporting dependencies. If the same field can come from multiple sources, which source should be used and in what scenarios? Do you need an additional Security Master solution on top of your Black Mountain implementation?
- The More You Know, the More You Will Want: As your team gets more familiar with the power of the Black Mountain platform, get ready for new ideas and user requests. Setting aside a reasonable budget to handle new requests will help you address these requests and improve user satisfaction/adoption.
- Aim to Leverage 3rd Party BI Tools for Reporting: Consider leveraging 3RD party BI tools like Microsoft Power BI or Tableau via Black Mountain APIs in order to self-service a larger portion of your dashboard/reporting needs via direct systematic access to your data stored in Black Mountain.
How FinServ Can Help
- Ability to Bridge the Gap: The FinServ team is made up of talented consultants that possess both a deep level of industry knowledge and technical expertise. Coupled with the team’s Black Mountain platform knowledge, FinServ is able to help clients bridge the knowledge gap with the Allvue implementation team to streamline the implementation process by calling out potential design limitations and clearly articulating complex requirements using cross-functional workflows, UI/UX wireframes, and by creating detailed end-user documentation.
- Project/Program Management: FinServ provides best-in-class project management staff that are experts in managing scope change requests, issue logs, preparing executive level presentations, and detailed weekly status reports. These activities together ensure that all levels of the client organization are kept up-to-date on the most critical aspects of the project progress and that issues are escalated proactively.
- Business Analysis, Data Analysis, and Documentation: FinServ skilled business analysts can support clients by providing hands-on project delivery activities like documenting requirements, performing data mapping, testing, and creating formal system documentation that otherwise would take you away from your day job.
- Full-time, Onsite Consultants with White Glove Service: FinServ can provide full-time, onsite consultants to support a Black Mountain implementation. This level of support ensures that any issues that arise are immediately reviewed and often resolved immediately. For any issues that cannot be resolved immediately, detailed resolution requirements are documented and provided to the vendor for immediate remediation, testing, and verification back out to the user.
The Bottom Line
Black Mountain is a robust, powerful platform for investment managers, but getting started with a Black Mountain implementation can be a daunting task if you don’t prepare ahead and don’t have the right adviser supporting you on your journey. FinServ Consulting’s Black Mountain expertise and unparalleled track record of service for asset management clients makes us the right partner for any Black Mountain project.
To learn more about FinServ Consulting’s services, please contact us at email@example.com or (646) 603-3799.
About FinServ Consulting
FinServ Consulting is an independent experienced provider of business consulting, systems development, and integration services to alternative asset managers, global banks and their service providers. Founded in 2005, FinServ delivers customized world-class business and IT consulting services for the front, middle and back office, providing managers with optimal and first-class operating environments to support all investment styles and future asset growth. The FinServ team brings a wealth of experience from working with the largest and most complex asset management firms and global banks in the world.