Advisor Tech Talk (Week of 1/8/24)

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Move over 2023, 2024 is starting out with a bang—when it comes to advisor tech news, that is. 

Yes, we just wrapped up 2023 and started the new year with a recounting of 2023’s biggest storiies. Lo and behold, as we get back to our “ordinary time” in 2024, we have a story drop that may be bigger than any of 2023’s biggest: The stepping down of Envestnet’s Bill Crager. 

To be sure, 2023 had its share of huge comings and goings in the wealth tech sector—well-known executives like Aaron Klein (who stepped down from Nitrogen, the wealth tech formerly known as Riskalyze) and Eric Clarke (founder and CEO of Orion) stepped down from their roles last year—but as seemingly ubiquitous as Nitrogen and Orion have become, neither have the reach or scale of an Envestnet, and neither of their CEOs have the influence that Crager wields. 

Envestnet is a firm at the crossroads. Rumors have been rampant that it is trying to offload its data aggregator, Yodlee, and big decisions on the futures of its multiple technology products and services in light of emerging technologies loom. A steady hand will be needed at the top of what may be the biggest wealth tech of them all. 

We have a ton of other news from this week and over the holidays, including a new financial wellness service from the folks at TIFIN and a few big hires around the industry—so let’s get right to it. 


BridgeFT 

BridgeFT, an API-first, cloud-native wealth infrastructure software company that enables financial institutions, fintech innovators, and registered investment advisors to deliver better, data-driven outcomes for their clients, announced that the total assets under management powered by BridgeFT’s WealthTech API across its client network grew by more than 100% in 2023, the first full year since WealthTech API was made available to firms and fintech companies seeking an API-first approach to handle multi-custodial data. 

Empower 

As markets in 2023 are showing signs of recovery and consumers continue to cope with the residual impact of higher inflation, Empower’s new personal wealth unit has seen steady gains all year through a proven strategy: the provision of financial advice. 

The one-year-old Empower Personal Wealth unit saw asset growth of 30% while attracting a new client base that grew approximately 23% during the 12-month period ending Sept. 30. In total, the unit administers $65 billion. 

Empower Personal Wealth (EPW) launched in January following the integration of the existing Empower retail and Individual Retirement Account business with the former Personal Capital business Empower acquired in 2020. 

Envestnet 

Envestnet announced that Bill Crager has made the decision to transition from the role of CEO effective March 31, 2024. Beginning April 2024, Crager will continue with Envestnet as a Senior Advisor, focusing on client and partner relationships, leaning in on key strategic initiatives, and continuing to be a visionary voice for the financial services industry. 

Envestnet’s focus on client excellence and service is unwavering. Tom Sipp, Executive Vice President, will continue to lead Envestnet’s business lines partnering closely with Crager and Board Chair James L. Fox, who will serve as interim CEO as of April 1, 2024, until a successor is in place. The Board of Directors will initiate a search for a successor, considering internal and external candidates, with assistance from an independent executive search firm. 

Under Crager’s leadership, Envestnet has grown into a leading managed solutions service provider with $5.4 trillion in client assets and over 107,000 advisors served*. Crager was recognized on Investment News’ 2023 Hot List and in 2015, the Money Management Institute named him that year’s Industry Pioneer. He was voted one of the IA25 by readers of Think Advisor and Investment Advisor magazines in 2020. Crager and the late Jud Bergman were among the first in the managed solutions industry to streamline independent advisors’ practices by offering a broad range of fee-based products side-by-side within an easily accessible, open-architecture portal. 

FusionIQ 

FusionIQ, a leader in the delivery of cloud-based wealth management solutions with their all-in-one digital platform for financial institution, announced a partnership with Kinecta Federal Credit Union. The integrated FusionIQ One platform makes it easy for banks and credit unions to offer additional investing services focused on retaining customers while growing their membership base. 

FusionIQ’s end-to-end technology lets credit unions and banks control their investing experience with hybrid digital advice and self-directed investing modules. The FusionIQ offering allows Kinecta to provide this full experience on a single platform. A fully integrated platform, FusionIQ One enables credit unions and banks to diversify through hybrid digital advice, or a self-directed investing option, that enables a generation of digital investors to make their own investing decisions. 

Intention.ly 

Intention.ly, the growth engine design consultancy firm transforming the way finserv and fintech companies approach sales and marketing, announced that industry veteran Mark Forman has joined the firm as client strategy director as part of Intention.ly’s Outsourced Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) service offering. 

As an outsourced CMO, Mark will work directly with Intention.ly’s clients and will be responsible for crafting comprehensive marketing strategies. His duties will include overseeing the development and execution of strategic campaigns, with a particular focus on ensuring alignment with sales objectives throughout the process. 

Before joining Intention.ly, Forman served as the CMO at independent insurance solutions platform, RetireOne. With more than two decades of experience, he has demonstrated his expertise in various capacities at Jefferson National and Nationwide. In these roles, he showcased his skills by overseeing marketing technologies and user experience design. During his time as VP of customer experience at Jefferson National, he played a pivotal role on the leadership team that successfully managed the sale and transition to Nationwide. 

InvestCloud 

InvestCloud announced the appointment of James Young as its Chief Information Officer (“CIO”), responsible for the company’s technology strategy, product development, and operations. The announcement comes on the heels of a number of senior leadership appointments, as InvestCloud continues to redefine the future of wealth and serve a large global client base, supporting more than $6.4 trillion of assets under management across its platforms. 

In addition to his role as CIO for InvestCloud, Mr. Young will also be appointed as a Senior Advisor of Motive Partners (“Motive”), a specialist financial technology private equity firm invested in InvestCloud. 

Mr. Young brings extensive experience in digital technology innovation within the banking and wealth management industry sectors to his new role at InvestCloud. He spent over thirty years in senior technology roles at JPMorgan Chase in London, Paris, Geneva, Hong Kong, and most recently in New York as the Deputy CIO of the Corporate and Investment Bank. Prior to this, he was JPMorgan Chase’s CIO for Asia Pacific. 

Mirador 

Mirador, Inc. announced the hiring of industry veteran Konstantinos (Gus) Papachristou as Vice President of Reporting. 

Mr. Papachristou will be joining Mirador as co-leader of the Alternative Data Management (ADM) team alongside Vice President Michael Colletti. Together, they will oversee the team that is responsible for the onboarding, maintenance, and servicing of traditional and non-traditional alternative investments and other offline data. Mirador’s ADM team, leveraging its own proprietary RELI technology, is adept in providing consistent, accurate, and timely processing of alternative investment data within clients’ preferred reporting platforms. 

Most recently Papachristou was the Head of Alts Aggregation, overseeing all aspects of alternative asset aggregation within Private Client Resources, LLC (PCR), from harvesting and procurement of statements to the extraction and entry of client alternative asset data. His experience includes delivering reporting services to high-net-worth individuals, institutional banks, and RIAs while serving in various operations and data services roles. 

Prospera Financial Services 

Prospera Financial Services, Inc. (“Prospera”), a boutique wealth management firm supporting a nationwide network of independent advisors, announced the newest additions to their technology offerings for its financial advisors. These integrations are the latest in a series of partnerships with tech firms that offer best-in-class software that better enables advisors to serve clients in the ever-changing technological and financial environments. 

Earlier this year, Prospera rolled out its partnership with CAIS, the leading alternative investment platform for independent financial advisors, which provides its network of advisors access to a broad selection of alternative investment strategies offered on the CAIS platform, all of which undergo independent due diligence by Mercer. Through this partnership, Prospera’s advisors benefit from a paperless, single sign-on platform, robust advisor training, integrated education and operation workflows, creating a seamless pre-trade, trade, and post-trade alternative investing experience. 

Through a partnership with Envestnet Retirement Solutions, one of the retirement industry’s leading management platforms for advisors and plan sponsors, Prospera provides its advisors access to an integrated, open-architecture and flexible fiduciary solution for retirement planning and support, with built-in compliance and operational efficiencies. Prospera’s advisors who manage retirement plans for business clients access a customized web-based portal allowing them to analyze robust business analytics, giving advisors more time to focus on new plan acquisition and growth. 

Prospera also recently selected SS&C’s Black Diamond® Wealth Platform, which will be available to all advisors in April 2024. The Black Diamond platform unites portfolio management and comprehensive reporting with the client experience integrating seamlessly with leading fintech solutions. The platform features a client portal through a mobile and desktop app. Advisors have the option to utilize Prospera’s existing branded app or choose to brand their own. 

TIFIN 

TIFIN and Franklin Templeton have announced a partnership to launch TIFIN @Work, a groundbreaking financial wellness solution designed to empower employees and enhance their financial well-being. Leveraging TIFIN’s experience in designing cutting-edge generative AI fintech platforms, TIFIN @Work helps individuals achieve their financial goals, reduce stress related to personal finance, and ultimately enhance overall employee well-being. The announcement builds on the existing strategic relationship between the firms that began during TIFIN’s Series D round in May of 2022. 

Workplace benefits and financial wellness are a crucial part of a modern employee’s compensation package. Yet, employees can often struggle to make optimal use of workplace benefits within the context of their current financial status and future goals. TIFIN @Work is the first holistic AI-powered platform for employees designed to help assess their financial situation, get actionable advice, and seamlessly make adjustments to their benefits to achieve better financial outcomes. 

TIFIN will partner with Franklin Templeton’s Workplace Retirement Distribution Business to deliver TIFIN @Work to plan advisers and the employers they serve. This partnership between TIFIN and Franklin Templeton is designed to create a positive impact across the defined contribution and plan adviser ecosystems, closing many of the gaps advisory firms are addressing between their workplace and the wealth management businesses.