Advisor Tech Talk (Week of 2/20/24)

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In today’s wealth technology update, the dis-intermediators are making a splash. 

I think most of our readers anticipate—or dread—the day when disintermediating technology comes for their own businesses’ value propositions. Today is not that day. Most of the financial news from this technological trend currently surrounds some of the more difficult-to-navigate areas of advisor’s work, like insurance, alternative investments and portfolio management. 

These niches, once representing labor-intensive segments of the financial services industry, are now primed for a rapid reduction in headcount as emerging technology like artificial intelligence and blockchains eliminate the need for a human being to sit at the middle of these transactions—more personal wealth advisors can now do this work without a third-party professional guiding their choices. 

In fact, outside of the wealthtech realm, a growing suite of consumer-facing technology obviates the need for a financial advisor to access and optimize insurance coverage and investments. So while we write here that the new generation of wealthtech makes it easier for advisors to offer a more comprehensive suite of services without increasing headcount or the number of relationships with third-party providers, a parallel movement is eliminating the need for a financial for the general public to access financial knowledge, products and services. 

Which leads us to ask: Will disintermediation be the technological movement that frees advisors to spend more time on their clients, or spend less time serving more clients—or will it be the nail in the wealth management professions themselves? 

Time will certainly tell. Let’s get to advisor tech headlines. 


8 Acre Perspective 

According to a survey of 100 financial advisors, the majority (54%) find it challenging to spend as much time as they would like with each client, while more than two-thirds (68%) said scaling their practice is difficult. 

The survey, entitled “AI to the Rescue?”, conducted in January 2024 by Totumai, a technology company focused on improving communication between financial advisors and their clients, and the leading financial industry researcher, 8 Acre Perspective, found that advisors are shifting their focus away from investment management to client-facing activities. 

When asked where they would prefer to spend their time, just 25% said more time on investment management, while 66% said more time on client-facing activities and 45% want to spend more time on prospecting and marketing. 

To date, AI for financial advisors is more theory than practice: Just 12% of advisors currently use AI today, but 48% said they planned to use it. Surprisingly, 40% said they had no plans to use it. 

Advyzon 

Advyzon Investment Management (AIM), a turnkey asset management program (TAMP) under the umbrella of comprehensive technology platform Advyzon, recently announced a partnership with Nebo Wealth, an award-winning asset allocation and portfolio design platform from global asset manager Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo & Co., LLC (GMO). AIM now powers and serves as a turnkey platform for Nebo Wealth, an end-to-end solution that enables Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs) to streamline and automate the process of delivering personalized portfolios for each and every client at scale.  

At the heart of Nebo Wealth’s framework is a proprietary multi-period, shortfall optimization engine that constructs portfolios designed to maximize the likelihood of achieving client goals. Nebo Wealth’s pioneering portfolio construction engine redefines risk – not as volatility, but as “not having what you need, when you need it” – empowering RIAs to directly align their clients’ financial plans with their investments. This results in portfolios that are better customized to the needs and circumstances of each client – all delivered through an open-architecture, technology-driven platform. 

Aggne 

Technology Holdings, a global investment bank with offices in North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific is pleased to announce that it has acted as the exclusive financial advisor to Aggne, a leading Florida headquartered insurance technology specialist and Duck Creek partner, on a significant strategic investment by Wipro. Wipro is investing $66M to acquire a 60% stake in Aggne, becoming the majority shareholder. 

Aggne offers a wide range of services designed to help insurers transform operations, drive new efficiencies, and deliver optimal customer experiences. Aggne’s offerings include IP-led consulting, implementation, and managed services. Founded in 2019, Aggne has 230 employees based in the United States and India. The company is a premier partner in the Duck Creek ecosystem and the recipient of the Duck Creek Technologies 2023 Americas Value Creation Partner of the Year award. It is also a partner of Socotra and Origami Risk. The transaction brings to Wipro a highly sought-after and unique set of capabilities and Intellectual Property (IP) in the property & casualty (P&C) insurance space. The combined capabilities of Wipro and Aggne will help deliver enhanced value, faster speed-to-market, and differentiated services to clients in the P&C insurance sector. 

AI for Alpha 

Ai for Alpha, a fintech company specializing in leveraging machine learning for advanced investment strategies, announced the integration of Gen AI into its asset management models. 

By utilizing advanced technologies like RAG (Retrieval Augmented Generation), generative AI can analyze a variety of sources, offering an up-to-date perspective on investor sentiment and market trends. Investment professionals find it valuable to combine the analysis of investor sentiments with market indicators such as trends, risk aversion, and other market factors.  

BridgeFT 

Attune Solutions announced its launch of Attune WealthData, Powered by BridgeFT – Financial Services Integration on Salesforce AppExchange, a leading enterprise marketplace for partner apps and experts, empowering customers with a pre-built accelerator that automatically connects multi-custodial data aggregation as part of Salesforce’s Financial Services Cloud (FSC) ecosystem of partners. 

The Attune WealthData App comes pre-integrated with BridgeFT’s WealthTech API, a WealthTech-as-a-Service platform offering a single, open API to access data from multiple custodians, advanced analytics and mission-critical application services. Attune WealthData provides users of Salesforce FSC with one source to allow users to integrate analytics-ready client and investment account data from direct custodian and back-office data sources. Users can also include held-away assets such as insurance and annuities, data streams that are often more difficult to access. This new app offers cohesive views of customers and their complete wealth picture to drive personalized experiences with standardized data that can be easily accessed in Salesforce. 

Citi 

Citi has announced that it has successfully completed a proof of concept on tokenization of private funds along with Wellington Management and WisdomTree. 

The proof of concept, which was conducted on the Avalanche Spruce institutional test Subnet, found that smart-contract capabilities could deliver new functionality and operational efficiencies, which are currently unavailable with traditional assets. These new functionalities could enable buy- and sell-side institutions to engage with distributed ledger infrastructure in a low-risk, low barrier-to-entry manner that is consistent with regulations. 

iCapital 

iCapital  announcedthat its new portfolio construction tool, Architect, is available on iCapital Marketplace. With the launch, more than 350,000 US financial advisors can access Architect – which combines a user-friendly interface with sophisticated analytics – to evaluate alternatives and structured investments alongside traditional assets and seamlessly design portfolios that align with their clients’ return objectives and risk profiles.

The launch on iCapital Marketplace follows a six-month beta phase with over 300 wealth managers, including more than 150 RIA firms. Additionally, iCapital announced the strategic relationship  with Morningstar last month, and through this integration once completed, more than 170,000 advisors can subscribe to Architect through Morningstar Advisor Workstation. 

LifeYield 

LifeYield, the fintech leader in tax-efficient, multi-account portfolio management, announced the release of its Annuity Income Layer for annuity manufacturers and distributors to ride the crest of retirements and investors’ thirst for guaranteed income. 

The Annuity Income Layer, an enhancement to LifeYield’s widely used Social Security+ benefits optimization tool, makes it simple and smooth for financial advisors to illustrate a manufacturer’s annuity products with minimal disruption and data collection. 

Pontera 

Pontera, the fintech company helping retirement savers access professional 401(k) account management from their trusted financial advisor, announced that CAPTRUST Financial Advisors, one of the industry’s largest registered investment advisors, will roll out Pontera to enhance its wealth management and retirement planning services. 

The partnership boosts the ability of CAPTRUST financial advisors to deliver comprehensive wealth planning and investment advice across client accounts, helping more retirement savers achieve their long-term income and lifestyle objectives. 

ReachStack 

Fresh Finance and ReachStack announced a partnership to integrate a new layer of analytics, AI and intelligence into their next generation of digital content and communication services for Wealth Management customers. 

Under the terms of the partnership, FreshFinance, a communications software provider for wealth organizations and their advisors, will now provide the option to seamlessly add ReachStack’s powerful advisor intelligence and client profiling capability into their advisor communication programs. 

Also, as part of the arrangement, ReachStack will provide their enterprise wealth management customers the option to add Fresh Finance’s financial articles as an efficient way to scale or fill any gaps in a firm’s branded content programs.