We recently spent four days with innovators at the forefront of the investment management industry at Base Camp, Ridgeline’s inaugural in-person conference. Here’s what we learned.
1. They’re hungry for something better.
Last month, Ridgeline welcomed over 100 people to our Lake Tahoe headquarters for four days of networking, brainstorming, and reaffirming our shared commitment to radically improve and accelerate the investment management industry.
The name ‘Base Camp’ was inspired by two things: 1) the stunning mountain surroundings in Tahoe and 2) in mountaineering, base camp is a place to gather your team, refresh supplies, and prepare for the expedition ahead.
While we didn’t need to climb an actual mountain, we were continuously struck by the collective energy of this group. Across 20 sessions and four days, the ideas were flowing about how to improve everything from their start-of-day workflow to the client service experience. Many collaborative sessions had to be cut short when the discussions ran over – there was no shortage of brilliant contributions from the people who have spent their careers in the industry and stand to benefit most from a new technology paradigm that supports it.
2. Mother nature can’t dampen their enthusiasm.
Tahoe in the early fall is a beautiful time to visit – typically. But this year, we had a memorable mix of everything from hail to hard rain to, yes, snow packed into our few days together. While rare for the season, the conditions seemed to underscore the excitement and exceptionalism of our time together.
Though we had to pivot from some of our original outdoor plans, the group adapted seamlessly. This isn’t surprising, really. It’s characteristic of leaders who embrace change. Digital transformation has arrived for the investment management industry and naturally, Ridgeline's customers are the ones who are ready for it. They recognize that Ridgeline’s cloud-native, front-to-back platform is key to unlocking the potential of what’s possible in this new era.
Ridgeline Board Member and former Director of the CIA George Tenet posed a provocative question to the industry leaders in the room during a fireside chat with our Founder Dave Duffield: “You deserve to have an enterprise software solution that makes life easy….Wouldn’t it be great if we all had Ridgeline to help everybody do a little bit better – but do it faster, smarter, and be more agile?”
3. There’s a big community out there.
The attendees of the inaugural Base Camp were a mix of customers, prospects, luminaries, and partners from within the Ridgeline ecosystem. They came from all across the country – not despite their busy jobs, but because of them. They recognized that this opportunity to be together was a valuable use of time: to be amongst like-minded individuals who all shared a common vision of what the future looks like.
Ridgeline knows well that it takes a significant amount of hours, resources, and conviction to change an entire industry. But after our time together at Base Camp, we’re as confident as ever that the right people are in place to accomplish our ambitious goals. Our committed early adopter customers, eager-to-jump-in prospects, first-class service partners, and 365-person strong team who has spent years developing a game-changing product are making change happen – together.
Across sessions as varied as “Security in the Cloud” led by our CISO and “Wrangling Your Data” roundtables with cross-sections of customers, we heard first-of-their-kind ideas that are shaping the course of investment management.
As one firm executive in attendance put it, “This is the future.” Ridgeline thinks so, and we are excited to see our growing community continually attract others that believe this as well.
4. Revolutionizing an industry feels a lot like dangling off a sheer rock wall.
We had the pleasure of hearing from our guest keynote speaker, Emily Harrington. Emily is a five-time national and two-time North American champion rock climber. But her career since leaving competitive climbing has reached new heights (sorry, had to). In the past few years, she’s turned to tackling off-circuit achievements such as climbing the world’s highest peaks and summiting Yosemite’s El Capitan famed “Golden Gate” route in under 24 hours – the first woman and only the fourth-ever person to do so.
You may wonder what the connection was for a room full of asset managers (other than being very on brand for Base Camp’s climbing theme). They probably did too – at first. But it didn’t take long for the entire room to be hanging on her every word as Emily told the story of her record-making climb, complete with graphic photos of her injuries and dramatic raw video capturing moments of doubt that she would make it at all.
While no one would pretend to be able to do what she did, every person in the audience felt a connection with her story when Emily said, “There's so much magic in facing uncertainty, in taking calculated and thoughtful risks….There has not been a summit or a great success that's worth really anything without all of these hardships that came before.”
No one has ever done what Ridgeline is doing – built a new holistic investment management system from scratch – because it’s dauntingly hard and resource intensive in a way that discourages trying. But Emily reminded the whole room of what’s possible if you embrace the challenge and push past perceived limits.
5. Bowling is the great equalizer.
When the aforementioned extreme weather made our outdoor activities a non-starter, we made a quick pivot to a low-tech classic: bowling. Most participants claimed to have not bowled in years, which made for some no-pressure entertainment. Whether they rolled strike after strike or didn’t break triple digits, the most meaningful score was the number of genuine bonds being racked up across lanes. In fact, one customer said his most memorable Base Camp moment was “making great connections with Ridgeline employees and other partner firms that we had only seen before over Zoom.” After years of being relegated to screen-based meetings, I think we can all relate.
The common denominator of Base Camp attendance wasn’t a bowling talent, but a shared knowledge that the day-to-day pain of their current technology didn’t have to be that way. And that by being there, they were all-in on creating the future with us.
Our Base Camp attendees may not have realized it at the moment, but that afternoon in the bowling alley, they were making history for the industry – in coordinated Ridgeline socks.
Ridgeline’s events like Base Camp are open exclusively to established members of our community. If you think you might belong there too, we look forward to hearing from you: firstname.lastname@example.org.