Ridgeline is bringing modern enterprise software to the financial advisory industry.
Our story would be straightforward had we started with that premise, but in reality, we built our leadership team before we knew exactly which industry we’d pursue. This may be atypical, but it’s the playbook our founder Dave Duffield has used across a storied career — get the right people on board and they’ll find and address a big problem.
As our team developed and stress-tested ideas, respected associates at an investment firm urged us to take a look at the advisory firm software landscape. What we observed was an opportunity to bring our expertise in enterprise platforms to a specific domain. So we started chasing down meetings and asking questions.
We’ve had conversations with all manner of firms across many functions. A clear theme emerged: this is a mission-driven industry. Advisors are dedicated to the success of their clients. A firm’s people are its differentiator. And yet, for too many firms, updating accounting systems with the day’s trades requires three applications, two blotters, and the “spinny wheel of death”. If an investor wants to withdraw cash, the firm plays telephone tag with a custodian, wades through multiple authorization forms, and coordinates rebalancing over the phone, sticky notes, and email. Put simply, serving investors with today’s technology is difficult.
There’s more. In addition to conversations with firms and industry experts, we studied the industry. A few obvious patterns began to emerge:
- Fee compression and shrinking margins are creating pressure on firms’ core businesses and forcing scrutiny around operational costs.
- An uncertain regulatory environment has made staying in compliance difficult and expensive.
- Legacy systems and old technology are costly and have created barriers that limit scale, efficiency, and insight.
- Investors are demanding a consumer-grade user experience and a digital-first relationship with their advisor.
In response to this change, some firms are choosing to rely on technology alone, offering wholly digital advice. But many investors still want to discuss strategies, habits, and outcomes with a professional. We understand; we’re investors too. So while a shifting environment is forcing advisors to become more efficient, loosely integrated, piecemeal software is making their work more challenging.
For Ridgeline, this feels like a calling. That advisory firms are customer-obsessed resonates with us because we are too. Helping advisors better serve investors is a mission worth building a company around. If a primary issue plaguing the industry is dated, disconnected tech, then we believe modern enterprise software can help firms succeed. But our success is contingent on partnering with the industry. We’re setting out to build collaboratively from day one, working directly with firms to gather product requirements and inform our roadmap. Our customers’ goals will be our own.
So, what are we building? We’re starting with core systems. Specifically, portfolio accounting (a firm’s data backbone) and trade order management. We’re confident a modern platform requires a truly modern foundation. Soon after, we’ll add breadth across the front, middle, and back offices. Our applications will be unified from day one; they will be designed to work together, built on an enterprise-grade security architecture, will share a common data model and will lay the groundwork for universal workflow and automation. Ultimately, we’re building an end-to-end platform that advisors will use to deepen relationships with investors while reducing the effort required to serve them.
Ridgeline is betting on people and partnership just as much as technology. We’re taking the long view. And we’re deeply motivated by what we see.