Advisor Tech Talk (Week of 1/23/24)

690

There is a particularly long list of wealth tech headlines for this week’s edition of Advisor Tech Talk, and it’s not just the usual busy week in technology. 

One of the largest wealth tech conferences in the industry, T3, is currently underway, and many companies mark the occasion by showing off new technology, functionalities and tools to advisor and media attendees. For those of us who have happily stepped back from the time-and-resource-consuming conference circuit, these same companies mark the conference week with a blizzard of press releases touting their news. 

So this week we’re bringing you updates from the likes of AdvisorEngine, Advyzon, Acrisuure, Accenture and plenty of wealth tech companies whose names do not begin with the letter “A” to help you keep up. 

Instead of bogging ourselves down with more expository commentary, let’s swing right into all of these headlines…


Accenture 

Accenture (NYSE: ACN) has acquired Impendi, a sourcing and procurement services provider with a focus on private equity clients, expanding a critical capability to Accenture’s growing offerings for this industry. Impendi helps private equity companies make sourcing and procurement decisions that increase their profitability and improve the bottom line of their portfolio companies. The firm’s procurement analytics offering allows clients to track spend, identify opportunities for savings and cash release, and improve supplier diversity across their portfolio, as well as conduct due diligence and investment research – leading to faster time to value with their investments. 

Acrisure 

Acrisure announced the formation of the Company’s Mid-Atlantic Region encompassing its businesses in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. As with all other platforms announced in 2023, the Region will operate under the Acrisure brand. Geoffrey Goldwater will serve as Managing Partner for the Mid-Atlantic Region. 

Acrisure also announced the formation of the Company’s Northwest Region encompassing its businesses in Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. Led by Managing Partner Jim Hunt, the Region will operate under a common brand and organizational structure as a means to offer the Company’s full suite of financial services solutions. 

The Mid-Atlantic and Northwest regions are Acrisure’s latest rebrand launch which in 2023 included New Jersey, New York, South, West and Southwest with more Regions to rebrand in 2024. 

AdvisorEngine 

AdvisorEngine, the financial experience company, continues to strengthen its wealth management platform to provide investment advisors control over their client experience and achieve greater operational efficiency. 

AdvisorEngine announced a new integration with Charles Schwab’s iRebal platform, one of the most adopted trading and rebalancing tools among registered investment advisors, according to the 2023 T3/Inside Information Software Survey. The company also rolled out new enhancements to benefit advisors and their clients utilizing its wealth management platform for digital account opening for Advisory firms that use Schwab Advisor Services as a custodian. 

Advyzon 

Could performance-based billing boost a financial advisor’s business? This is one of the questions that Advyzon, a comprehensive service and technology platform and portfolio management solution for financial advisors and investment managers, dug into as they analyzed new data recently released in their third annual Billing and Fee Study, a white paper based on original research that analyzes which fee models independent financial advisors (IARs and RIAs) are using today. The report uncovers recent trends in billing and fees, plus offers insights into where the industry may be headed. 

One of the biggest takeaways from the year-end 2023 study is that the number of firms offering performance-based billing steadily increased within the past year. In addition, billing based on an account’s average daily balance, versus beginning or ending balance, saw continued growth in 2023. That being said, a quarterly billing cycle using a tiered fee structure based on AUM remained the industry favorite last year, while the number of firms using flat fees – which increased significantly from 2021 to 2022 – fell in 2023. 

Advyzon conducted the same billing study at the end of 2022, sharing insights from more than 1,000 firms. In this updated study analyzing 2023 data from more than 1,200 advisory firms that use Advyzon for billing, the award-winning fintech firm explores the similarities and differences of the data a year later, breaks down aggregate data to show different approaches taken by larger firms (more than $100M AUM) and smaller firms, and shares how advisors using the Advyzon platform have been taking billing into their own hands. 

Alphathena 

Alphathena, the Morningstar Fintech Showcase 2023 “Best in Show” winner and leading AI-powered direct indexing platform for Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs), has secured a $4-million investment led by ETFS Capital, with Hyde Park Angels (HPA) joining the round. This significant funding fuels Alphathena’s mission to empower advisors with accessible and customizable direct indexing solutions. Now, advisors can better meet their clients’ evolving needs and stand out in a competitive landscape. 

The decision for ETFS Capital and HPA to invest in Alphathena comes at a perfect time in the industry, as more advisors seek greater personalization strategies for their clients leveraging direct indexing and tax-loss harvesting — yet many feel they have limited options. By leveraging Alphathena’s AI-driven software and support, more RIAs can differentiate themselves in a competitive marketplace while effectively meeting their clients’ investing goals. 

Apex Advisor Solutions 

Apex Advisor Solutions (“Apex”), a wholly owned subsidiary of Apex Fintech Solutions Inc. (“Apex”), the fintech for fintechs powering innovation and the future of digital wealth management, unveiled at the T3 Technology Conference Apex Astra, a modern, operationally efficient UI that puts power back into the hands of advisors. Made possible with Apex’s flexible APIs and institutional-grade advisor platform, Apex Astra enables advisors to take control of their innovation and client onboarding, data, and service. 
With clients demanding faster and better experiences, Apex Astra is designed to streamline the account opening process and provide faster access to decision-making data while offering a superior digital support experience for advisors. In conjunction with Apex’s API and advisor tech integrations, such as Orion and AdvisorArch, Apex Astra modernizes the advisor experience, unlocking the combined power of Apex and the third-party tech ecosystem. Innovative integrations include rebalancing with fractional trading, digital client onboarding with automated account opening, and AI enablement through advanced third-party overlays. 

ARQA 

ARQA officially announced at the 2024 T3 Technology Conference in Las Vegas the launch of its ARQA AI Platform including two AI-enabled software solutions ARQA AI Chat and KorScript.  

At the forefront of the financial AI revolution, ARQA’s AI-enabled platform is dedicated to offering software solutions that empower financial professionals to improve decision-making, modernize reporting and data analytics, and immediately elevate the efficiency of their processes. 

ARQA’s AI Chat product is a data-agnostic platform that adapts to any data source, acting as a versatile sidekick to allow anyone to unlock unparalleled insights. The platform allows users to effortlessly scan diverse client portfolios and uncover key information. Through the convergence of intuitive engagement and intelligent analysis, ARQA AI Chat facilitates superior decision-making and empowers wealth management firms to enhance their advisory capabilities. 

Ascent Technologies 

Ascent Technologies, an innovator and provider of AI-enabled compliance automation solutions for financial services companies, announced its acquisition by Edgewater Equity Partners, a private equity firm based in Boston. This strategic acquisition positions Ascent to accelerate development of its compliance automation platform and deliver even greater value to its customers. 

Historically, compliance teams have been forced to read endlessly through a deluge of documents from numerous regulators to identify applicable rule changes and analyze their impact – with the constant risk of unknowingly being in non-compliance. 

The Ascent platform replaces these slow, costly, manual processes with AI-enabled automation that monitors the financial services regulatory landscape in real time, identifies rule changes and obligations that apply to a company, and notifies stakeholders of applicable rule changes and obligations. 

CAIS 

CAIS, the leading alternative investment platform for independent financial advisors, announced the launch of CAIS Live, a new alts education program which features one-day, in-person events for independent advisors in key cities across the nation.  

With 85% of surveyed financial advisors set to increase allocations to alternatives by 2025, the launch of CAIS Live will provide an opportunity for advisors to engage directly with the asset managers available on the CAIS platform. CAIS Live events are free for advisors and present an opportunity to earn CE credits.  

The launch of CAIS Live comes on the heels of the CAIS Alternative Investment Summit, CAIS’ marquee three-day annual event, which convened over 1,000 attendees in 2023. In concert with the annual event, which is slated to return to L.A. in October of this year, 2024 CAIS Live events will be hosted in key cities. 

Capitalise.ai 

In an era where technology continuously reshapes our approach to finance, Capitalise.ai is collaborating with Microsoft, a global artificial intelligence (AI) leader, to introduce cutting-edge text-based services to customers within financial markets. This collaboration marks a significant step forward in enhancing the capabilities available to traders, investors, and financial entities. 

At the heart of this collaboration is Microsoft’s unwavering commitment to technological advancement, particularly in enriching Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services with innovative solutions from its partners around the world such as Capitalise.ai. Capitalise.ai has accordingly developed a pioneering solution that fundamentally transforms how traders interact with real-time financial data. This technology is not just about efficient data consumption and automation; it’s about redefining market analysis. 

As already a key player in the fintech sector, Capitalise.ai provides its technology to leading brokers and financial entities worldwide, including organizations like Interactive Brokers, Fidelity, and StoneX. With Microsoft’s global reach and cloud infrastructure, the Capitalise.ai platform will now be accessible to an even broader audience, extending the benefits of these advanced text-based services. 

CogniCor 

CogniCor (the “firm”), a provider of artificial intelligence (AI) enabled digital assistants and business automation platform for the financial services industry, announced the launch of its Microsoft Azure OpenAI Service-enabled enterprise-ready digital assistants for the insurance and wealth management industries. 

Intended to maximize an agent or advisor’s time, the firm launched its AI-enabled digital assistants to redefine the professional experience for insurance and wealth management professionals. CogniCor’s digital assistants that offer guidance on compliance processes and forms, and optimize workflows for onboarding, client review meetings, and financial planning use Azure OpenAI Service and are offered through Azure Marketplace and hosted in Azure. 

CogniCor carefully selected a client pilot group of technologically progressive wealth management organizations including large broker-dealers, RIAs (registered investment advisors) and TAMPs (turnkey asset management programs). This group includes AssetMark, a TAMP that serves 9,300 financial advisors and supports roughly $100 billion in platform assets[1], Steward Partners Global Advisory, a 2022 Barron’s Top 100 RIA firm supporting hundreds of advisors across 40 locations, and Shufro Rose & Co., a multi-generational RIA based in New York City. 

The pilot group will deploy Azure OpenAI Service-enabled platform enabling them to scale their operations efficiently while providing a differentiated experience to their home office staff, advisors and their clients. This will also allow the firms to test the AI-enabled digital assistants and their connections with OpenAI through Microsoft’s application programming interface (API). 

GreenHill 

GreenHill Investment Reporting, a independent provider of investment performance reporting services, announced that its advanced performance reporting functionality is now included in Invent’s Digital Wealth Ecosystem for Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs) and Independent Broker-Dealers (IBDs). This enables advisors to deliver an enhanced client experience featuring personalized reporting. 

Invent is an award-winning, cloud-native integration platform as a service and a technology consulting firm founded by fintech industry veteran, Oleg Tishkevich. Along with an elite team of cloud technologists, Invent provides a unique approach to systems design, data architecture, integration, and digital experiences dedicated to serving the needs of enterprise firms and RIAs in the wealth management industry. 

GreenHill has been helping financial professionals deliver enhanced client experiences for over 30 years. The sophisticated portfolio performance reporting functionality now available within Invent improves client satisfaction by allowing advisors to build customized reports on the fly that address client requests. 

Helios 

Helios, pioneer of the Insourced Chief Investment Officer (iCIO) model that seamlessly integrates strategic guidance, portfolio oversight and cutting-edge technology and research into a firm’s internal team, announced its latest offering: model trade execution services for financial advisors. This initiative aligns with Helios’ commitment to equipping advisors with essential tools and support, enhancing scale, efficiency, and fostering confident communication. Helios has introduced this new service to elevate the client experience and address prevalent industry issues identified by advisors:  

Reducing Total Cost of Investing: Departing from the traditional flat fee model, Helios’ innovative payment structure, based on basis points directly withdrawn from clients’ accounts, ensures a transparent and clear billing approach. This shift aims to reduce the total cost of investing for clients.  

Serving Smaller Advisors: Helios acknowledges the financial constraints faced by smaller advisors and has tailored the service to eliminate the standard flat fee for those meeting specific criteria, making its high-quality asset management more accessible.  

Creating Scalability: The service is designed to create scale for advisors of any size who prefer not to handle trading independently, offering a cost-effective solution compared to traditional basis-point models, separately managed accounts (SMAs) and model marketplaces.  

Enhancing Client Experience: This service empowers advisors by affording them access to the complete suite of iCIO capabilities that they have come to expect from Helios, combining its comprehensive quantitative investment management solutions, deep market research and leading-edge technology.    

With the introduction of this service, advisors retain access to Helios’ comprehensive benefits, now coupled with a revolutionary payment framework. The departure from the traditional flat fee model makes high-quality asset management and customized investment strategies more accessible. This cost-effective solution, open to all registered investment advisors (RIAs) and advisors with GeoWealth access via their broker-dealer, enhances overall value for both advisors and their clients. 

iCapital 

Morningstar, Inc. (NASDAQ: MORN), a provider of independent investment insights, and iCapital, the global fintech platform empowering the asset and wealth management industry with an industry-leading alternative investment experience, announced a strategic relationship to provide Advisor WorkstationSM users with access to alternative investments and analytics for the first time. 

The integration equips Advisor Workstation’s more than 170,000 users with alternative investment research and tools to evaluate private assets side by side with traditional investments. Coupled with investment proposal and report capabilities in Advisor Workstation, the solution empowers advisors to offer holistic recommendations and build diversified portfolios that include alternative assets for clients. 

Idea Decanter 

Idea Decanter, a video marketing agency that helps financial advisors write, record, produce, and market unique, custom-created videos, announced the launch of Instant Video Impact, a turnkey 2-video production program for financial advisors. 

Instant Video Impact was specifically designed for advisors who hope to boost their marketing and growth with video and want enough guidance and support to get started – without the high costs of renting a studio or hiring a professional videographer to come on location. With the Instant Video Impact program, advisors have everything they need to create professional-grade videos. 

LibertyFI 

LibertyFi, a technology and operations consultancy focused on driving revenue and growth for RIAs, and Aptus Capital Advisors, a CIO support and OCIO practice, have merged to create a firm designed to build custom solutions for RIAs. The combined firm services over $20 billion in client assets today and will provide a turnkey solution allowing advisors to fully outsource tech, investment management, and operations while also delivering à la carte services that can be incorporated with an advisor’s existing technology.  

The two firms recognized their shared passion for helping advisors achieve full potential as efficiently as possible while staying ahead of the competition. With a consistent commitment to serving the client and strong collaboration around implementation, LibertyFi and Aptus seized the opportunity to enhance their current relationships and expand their advisor-focused capabilities. 

As technology options and regulatory requirements continue to increase at a dizzying pace, LibertyFi’s experienced team of hands-on consultants allows advisors to outsource their middle office and leverage technology, enabling RIAs to focus on expanding their services, increasing their enterprise value, and scaling their businesses. According to DeVoe & Company, while RIAs averaged a 4% organic growth rate in 2022, LibertyFi clients saw an average 18% organic growth rate – nearly five times the industry average. 

Luma Financial Technologies 

Luma Financial Technologies (“Luma”), an award-winning independent multi-issuer structured products and annuities platform, has expanded its partnership with Yieldstreet, a leading private market investment platform, to bring Yieldstreet’s diverse offerings to Luma’s customer base. In doing so, Luma is broadening Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs) access to alternative investment products that can play a fundamental role in building a diversified portfolio. 

The most prominent RIAs and broker-dealers around the world use the Luma platform to efficiently and effectively invest in alternatives, spanning from initial purchase of products to full lifecycle management, all in one place. 

Through its latest collaboration with Yieldstreet, Luma users receive educational training, post-trade advisor management and reporting tools for a diverse selection of private market solutions such as real estate, private equity, art, supply chain financing, and more. These offerings are carefully selected by top-tier investment managers to cater to distinct client objectives and risk appetites. 

Myriad Advisor Solutions 

Myriad Advisor Solutions (Myriad), a long-established, full-service business advisory firm, is celebrating the company’s 15th anniversary by launching two new powerhouse initiatives designed to streamline and protect their clients’ business operations far into the future. Both of these programs will make their debut at the 2024 Technology Tools for Today conference (T3) for financial professionals happening January 22-25, 2024 at the Cosmopolitan Hotel & Resort in Las Vegas. 

The first of these two offerings is Myriad’s MASDefense, an all-encompassing cybersecurity solution featuring advanced Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR), Extended Detection and Response (XDR) capabilities, computer forensics, pen testing, and the expertise of the Security Operations Center (SOC) team. Designed to provide holistic protection against cyber threats well into the future, the system’s software aligns with the latest SEC guidelines and regulatory rulings released last year. 

Objectway 

Objectway, the Global Top 100 FinTech provider of as-a-service software and services to banks, wealth and asset managers, announced the acquisition of Nest Wealth, a leading Canadian provider of digital wealth solutions. 

Building on more than 30 years of business expertise, Objectway has built partnerships with banks, wealth and asset management firms to empower and scale their business through cutting-edge software and services, enabling financial institutions of all sizes and geographies to seamlessly embark on their digital transformation journey. 

With more than 10 years of market leadership and innovation, Nest Wealth provides digital wealth solutions for onboarding, account opening, and financial planning to some of the largest financial institutions in Canada – including banks, custodians and asset managers – wealth management firms and individual advisors, as well as direct-to-investor investment management services. Clients include half of Canada’s largest six banks as well as National Bank of Canada, National Bank Independent Network, etc. 

Pontera 

Pontera, the fintech company helping retirement savers receive professional 401(k) management from their trusted financial advisor, announced it has signed an agreement with Commonwealth Financial Network (“Commonwealth”), a national firm dedicated to providing financial advisors with holistic, integrated business solutions. Through this partnership, Commonwealth’s affiliated advisors can seamlessly and securely manage clients’ retirement plan assets via Pontera, further enhancing their ability to support their clients’ long-term financial planning goals.  

This milestone marks Pontera’s largest publicly-announced agreement with a national Registered Investment Adviser firm. Commonwealth reports the highest gross revenue per advisor among independent broker/dealers (as reported by Financial Advisor, April 2023). 

Powder Finance 

Powder Finance, Inc. (Powder), a fintech innovator in developing next generation tools that help financial advisors streamline and grow their businesses, announced that Powder, a generative artificial intelligence powered tool designed specifically to enhance the sales proposal process, has evolved to a new level of sophistication.  

Generative artificial intelligence (generative AI, GAI, or GenAI) is artificial intelligence capable of generating text, images, or other media, using generative models. GenAI models learn the patterns and structure of their input training data and then generate new data that has similar characteristics. 

Through feedback from the advisors’ usage, Powder incorporates dynamic data gathering capabilities that allow wealth advisors to easily glean pertinent summarized information, conduct analysis and produce beautiful presentation decks in minutes. Powder’s automated AI proposal process increases wealth advisors’ efficiency, enhances value to prospects, and improves client acquisition. Powder’s new applied GenAI functionality includes secure and compliant summarization of current and prospective client meetings, with AI generated tasks and service or proposal details. 

STP Investment Services 

STP Investment Services (STP), a leading global provider of technology-enabled, end-to-end investment servicing solutions, announced the appointment of Emmy Bernard as Chief Revenue Officer. Bernard is a member of the executive committee with a focus on enabling STP to accelerate growth and focus on client success as it helps asset managers drive operational impact through their strategic outsourcing solutions. 

Reporting to CEO Dan Houlihan, Bernard oversees sales, relationship management, marketing, and revenue operations. 

Bernard draws from over 20 years of sales and marketing leadership experience in the financial services industry. As Partner and Global Head of Marketing at ACA Group, she oversaw lead generation and product marketing strategies for the firm. As Head of Client Development at Foreside Financial Group (merged with ACA Group in May 2022), Bernard led the firm’s commercial team across sales, marketing, and relationship management verticals. Prior to her tenure at ACA Group, Bernard spent nearly a decade in the hedge fund industry in marketing and investor relations roles at two alternative asset managers. 

TIFIN 

TIFIN, a leading AI and innovation platform for wealth, has announced the spin-off of TIFIN AG and the appointment of industry veterans Rajini Kodialam and Brian Carlin as board members. Rajini is Founder and Co-CEO at E-3 tech and the Co-Founder Emeritus of Focus Financial Partners while Brian was the former CEO of J.P. Morgan Private Capital and CEO of J.P. Morgan Wealth Management Solutions.

TIFIN AG, formed within TIFIN and founded by Dr. Vinay Nair, employs state-of-the-art supervised trained algorithms to drive asset growth for wealth management firms. The platform provides several AI modules for client acquisition, expansion, and retention that include prioritizing prospect lists, identifying referral opportunities, scoring existing clients for asset consolidation, and assessing client and asset retention risk. Firms can use these customizable algos in conjunction with marketing automation capabilities, fostering a robust feedback loop to change how wealth managers engage clients and prospects. In addition, the platform streamlines wealth data sources by collaborating with clients, enhancing the reliability and depth of information with TIFIN’s data lake and 3rd-party vendors.

Vanilla | Vanguard 

Vanguard is introducing new and enhanced intergenerational wealth and legacy planning capabilities through a partnership with Vanilla, an innovative provider of digital estate planning tools and solutions. The offer was successfully piloted to a small cohort of eligible advised clients in Vanguard Personal Advisor Wealth Management over the past year and will scale to provide ultra-high-net-worth Vanguard investors with a powerful visualized approach to help manage and achieve their current and future estate planning objectives.

Eligible Personal Advisor Wealth Management clients will work directly with their advisor to leverage Vanilla to build integrated visualizations of their net worth, powerful asset transfer diagrams, estimated tax calculations, ongoing estate monitoring and the ability to model the impact of further estate planning scenarios.

Vanguard began working with Vanilla in 2022 and plans to roll out access to the new estate planning tools to eligible Personal Advisor Wealth Management clients over the coming year, in addition to evaluating opportunities to expand access to the offer to a broader set of clients.

Wealth.com 

Wealth.com, the industry’s leading estate planning platform, announced Farther, the nation’s leading technology-centric wealth management firm has made wealth.com available to all advisors and their clients as its go-to estate planning solution. Farther’s experienced advisors and data-driven wealth management platform have set a new standard in financial planning, putting high-net-worth (HNW) clients’ money to work for them, their families and their futures. This commitment extends to the incorporation of wealth.com’s estate planning platform, reinforcing Farther’s dedication to providing a truly comprehensive approach to managing significant wealth.   

Caring.com’s 2023 Wills and Estate Planning Study revealed an alarming statistic: 54 percent of the wealthiest and most highly educated Americans lack an estate plan, often due to procrastination. In response to this challenge faced by the firm’s advisors and their HNW clients, Farther pursued a partnership with a modern estate planning solution that was built to serve growing firms. By onboarding with wealth.com, Farther’s advisors gain access to an end-to-end platform that is replete with frictionless onboarding, intuitive plan creation, clean visualizations and proactive insights.   

WealthArc 

WealthArc, a Swiss born global wealth data management solution provider, has partnered with ZeroLink, a pioneering company in neurosymbolic KGQA technology, to develop WealthArc AI & Analytics – a cutting-edge machine learning-powered “Chat with your data” service tailored for the wealth management space. 

The integration of ZeroLink’s technology in the development of WealthArc AI & Analytics enables a game-changing approach for wealth management to effortlessly access, navigate, and comprehend complex data sets. 

WealthArc empowers wealth managers, family offices, trustees and other wealth owners with a state-of-the-art data management platform aggregating globally over 200k positions every day. 

With the increasing amount of wealth data available, the barrier to retrieve actionable insights is increasing. WealthArc recognized this pressing issue and sought to offer an innovative solution that would allow individuals and institutions to interact with wealth data in an easy and effective manner.