Advisor Tech Talk (5/3/22)

Look Out!


Volatility is keeping 2022 interesting, especially with some of the steep downside we’ve experienced over the last two months across multiple asset classes.

Bad news comes in bunches, and four months into the year we’ve had invasions, inflation and, in the words of the great George Costanza, “Shrinkage!” as GDP growth turned negative—and there’s nothing more beloved in newsrooms than bad news.

Seriously. Take a look at how many of your favorite financial publications write, publish and give prominent placement to stories of fraud and abuse within the industry they purport to be serving. They’re willing accept the risk of casting in a negative light the industry they depend on to pay the bills because of the traffic and attention the latest corrupted stock broker can bring them.

So of course most of us writers also love a good down market, as long as we’re not looking at our 401(k)s. Doing so is only problematic when media create the narrative, when the very fabric of popular belief—and therefore reality—is altered by our tendency to amplify negativity and dampen optimism.

Which, of course, is a very real risk in the fast-moving information age.

Not all of the news has been bad, let’s get to some fintech headlines.

Snappy Kraken – Snappy Kraken acquired website builder Advisor Websites, one of its existing integration partners, to expand its suite of services to firms looking for  an improved digital marketing experience and better online infrastructure.

This acquisition will enable each firm to leverage their unique strengths including Advisor Website’s tech tools – such as its website design manager and mobile responsive website framework – alongside Snappy Kraken’s prospecting and client-relationship-building offerings.

Envestnet – Envestnet announced a series of technology updates throughout its ecosystem to meet the technology and investment needs of advisors and their clients. These enhancements are a part of a series of spring releases that include investment products, web-based planning solutions, and an optimized advisor and client experience.

New features within Envestnet’s ecosystem, including the next-generation proposal workflow, are driven by feedback from advisors, who can now access the following capabilities within proposals for new investment products:

Fund Strategist Tax Management allow advisors to outsource and automate tax management on either third-party manager or proprietary home office fund strategist portfolio accounts at scale and personalized to their individual clients’ tax situations and investment goals.

Sustainable investing strategies and overlays enable advisors to incorporate institutional-quality and customized sustainable investment approaches into client portfolios.

Private Wealth Consulting to help advisors connect to Envestnet’s investment specialists, who can work with them to further customize solutions for their clients.

Enhanced account setup features, such as more flexible dollar cost average settings and account-level security restrictions.

Updated performance reports that can break out time periods and performance by asset class and manager.

Pontera – Pontera announced an integration with SS&C’s Advent Custodial Data network.

The technology integration provides held away account data for firms using SS&C’s advisory solutions. Users can view, report, supervise, and bill on 401(k), 403(b), and other held away accounts managed on Pontera’s platform through SS&C’s network, including Black Diamond, Axys, Advent Portfolio Exchange and Geneva.

The integration with SS&C marks another successful technology partnership for Pontera (formerly FeeX), following several other announcements in the past 12 months.

Refinitiv – Refinitiv announced the findings of its Evolution of Trading report series. The study found that 44 percent of equity trading volume is automated. 66 percent of professionals expect in 1-3 years to focus more time on automating processes than on any other task.

The study highlights changes taking place at the global markets level and dives into the nuanced impacts that technology and data developments can have on equity, fixed income, and FX markets.  The study found that trade execution and post trade are areas more automated for each of the asset classes. Client pricing, compliance checks and risk management are less automated. Multiple areas of the trading workflow are considered to require more automation, including trade execution and post trade.  Survey participants agreed that automating processes and workflow will be an activity they will be spending more time on, with equal emphasis on digital communications with customers. Automation, alongside vendor consolidation will be the most common way firms cut costs. Limited budgets and integration issues are the main barriers to adopting new data sets, solutions, and technology.

Onyx Advisor Network – Onyx Advisor Network is planning to launch as a comprehensive entrepreneurial support platform for minority-led financial advisory firms.

The network is focused on helping historically underrepresented advisors start, scale, and sustain their practices by providing them with a community of like-minded advisors, and access to compliance solutions, custodians, coaching development resources, and several other technology resources.

Onyx will be unveiling its subscription cost for network advisors. The avg advisor in the network will save around $10k/year on their tech stack alone, not to mention the community and coaching resources on the platform.

Included in the subscription cost, advisors will gain access to a bundled technology stack, including Altruist, MessageWatcher, Envestnet|MoneyGuide, RightCapital, Synergy RIA Compliance Solutions, and Wealthbox. Network advisors will have the option to invest client assets in the “Onyx Model Portfolios” powered by Vanguard and Alpha Architect.