Black Mountain Systems’ 2015 Client User Forum

Black Mountain gives access to executive team
This year, over 75 investment and operations professionals representing 33 investment firms registered for the Black Mountain event, which was held April 14. This marked a notable increase in attendance from 2014’s event. The ability for clients to interact with Black Mountain’s executive and product teams is one of the main draws of the forum. Clients also have the opportunity to take advantage of speaking with industry peers who have also chosen the Everest platform for their data and investment management needs.

Black Mountain began the event by welcoming everyone in attendance and explaining how an interactive and collaborative approach is essential for achieving continuous improvement and relevant innovation. Chief Technology Officer Brandon Meeks started the day off by giving an overview of the latest Everest platform updates.

Meeks was followed by notable industry expert, Steve Miller from S&P Capital IQ, who explained current trends in leveraged finance and fixed income. Miller discussed the loan market, leveraged loan volume, relevant M&A activity, CLO volume, mutual fund flows, new issuances and other general trends.

“The finance industry’s confidence in Everest really speaks to the power and efficacy of the product.”

New developments in the Everest platform
Brandon Meeks discussed important items on the agenda as well as new developments to look forward to in 2015. Meeks noted that the latest version of Everest’s compliance engine delivers a complete pre- and post-trade solution via the new Compliance Scenario Framework. It also includes hypothetical trading, month-end analysis, automated reporting and exception handling. Another key development topic was performance attribution, with emphasis on the creation of composite benchmarks, multi-dimensional analysis and how to manage exceptions in the data. Black Mountain indicated that in 2015, the interlacing of compliance data into performance attribution would also be enabled.

One of the most important discussion topics was the ways in which Everest integration with Excel has been improved. Many clients already push data from Excel directly into Everest – scraping financials from spreadsheet models into Everest saves clients a tremendous amount of time and also allows clients to dissect the credit data across their portfolios in any way they choose. The improvements discussed centered around more flexibility in the way data gets pushed, and how it is stored and managed in Everest. Meeks also noted Everest’s ability to generate reports directly from Excel, explaining that while current reporting options were pretty robust, they required a fair amount of technical ability to create and maintain.

“Our goal is to move our clients up the technology curve and put this power in the hands of the end user,” said Meeks.

Black Mountain was proud to hear that overall, analysts found the process of pushing and pulling data between Everest and Excel to be intuitive and easy to perform.

Black Mountain’s clients express their appreciation
At the event, clients discussed the myriad of ways that the Everest platform has introduced efficiencies to their day-to-day business and improved their overall asset management capabilities.

A chief investment officer for a reputable private wealth management firm noted that since his company adopted the Black Mountain solution, assets under management have more than doubled, growing from $2 billion to over $5 billion. The client explained that unlike with most fund managers, where assets under management stem from a handful of funds, his firm manages dozens of portfolios, investing primarily in municipal bonds, for both high net worth and institutional investors. For that reason, the efficiencies brought on by Everest at his firm are particularly evident.

Leveraging the Black Mountain solution has allowed managers to spend less time going back and forth from managing portfolios individually. This has resulted from the platform’s much-improved process management and data aggregation. The investment officer noted reduced overhead and significantly improved time management as reasons that portfolio managers at his firm are able to effectively manage over twice the number of accounts with fewer resources. The client also noted that the compliance feature was very beneficial, especially when making sure allocations stay within certain limits set forth by his investors.

Another executive at the event, speaking on behalf of the compliance department for a private equity firm in Connecticut, discussed how helpful the Everest platform was with respect to dealing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. He explained when the SEC sees that a company uses Everest, the level of scrutiny decreases. As such, the regulator knows inherent in the Black Mountain solution is workflow mapping and documentation that will safeguard any information needed to verify compliance procedures. Ultimately, the finance industry’s confidence in Everest really speaks to the power and efficacy of the product. This was a sentiment that was echoed throughout the forum.