Advisor Tech Talk (Week of 2/27/24)

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Financial markets have boomed to start 2024, and the wealthtech universe is growing apace. 

This week brings a mixed bag of advisor technology news—a few run-of-the mill announcements from publicity-forward tech companies might lull the casual reader into thinking it was a typical week. Let me assure you, that wasn’t the case. 

This edition of Advisor Tech Talk brings you big announcements from the likes of Nitrogen, Advyzon, SEI and TIFIN—and rounding out our headlines are fascinating announcements from forward-looking companies we’re just now featuring for the first time, like Copper Financial, Retirable and Substance Creative. 

Read up! You’re almost certain to learn something new this week. Let’s get to it…


Acrisure 

Acrisure announced the formation of its Southeast Region, encompassing its businesses in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. Led by current Acrisure Partner Dave Hoover, this is the Company’s largest Region by revenue. 

The Southeast Region marks Acrisure’s third rebrand of 2024 and the eighth overall. It joins the Mid-Atlantic, Northwest, Southwest, New Jersey, New York, South, and West in going to market under the Acrisure name to reflect the collective financial services acumen and technology capabilities afforded by this unified approach. The Company also formed Acrisure Protection Group and Acrisure Aerospace to serve the diverse needs of auto dealer and aviation clients, respectively. 

Advyzon 

Advyzon, a comprehensive service and technology platform and portfolio management solution for financial advisors and investment managers, announced a new custody and retail investment infrastructure integration with Apex Advisor Solutions, a division of Apex Fintech Solutions Inc. (Apex) that empowers the future of wealth management with digital custody and clearing provided through Apex Clearing Corporation. The collaboration was announced during the inaugural Advyzon Conference, taking place February 20-22, 2024 in Phoenix, Arizona. Apex is also attending, sponsoring, and exhibiting at the conference, and will participate in a Custodial Technology Panel happening today at 8:55am PST. 

Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs) use Apex’s robust custody and clearing platform and capital structure to administer their client investment accounts, from real-time onboarding and account funding, to custody, trading, clearing, and cost basis and tax reporting. Now, they can harness the power of Advyzon’s comprehensive, award-winning technology platform for advisors. The integration includes new account opening workflows, initial account funding, money movement, custodian fee file submission, and FIX trading. 

Advyzon’s cloud-based platform for financial advisors combines portfolio management, customizable performance reporting, trading and rebalancing, client web portals, client relationship management (CRM), client billing, and document storage – plus a model marketplace with access to third party strategists and/or turnkey asset management via Advyzon Investment Management (AIM). This comprehensive solution makes it easier for advisors to run their financial planning and investment advisory firms while managing their client accounts with efficiency. Advyzon is currently serving over 1,500 advisory firms. 

CFRA 

CFRA, a provider of independent investment research, announced a number of key enhancements to its FUNDynamix platform, a powerful, market leading web-based tool that provides ETF professionals and wealth managers with dynamic screening capabilities, in-depth ETF analysis, detailed flows trends, and comparison tools. 

Launched in 2023, FUNDynamix already allows users to search ETFs by nearly 100 granular categories and themes, quickly allowing them to see asset flows; sector- and holdings-level details; credit quality changes in bond ETFs; and detailed breakdowns of the drivers behind AUM changes (i.e., net assets vs. market movement). 

Today’s enhancements build on the FUNDynamix foundation, and include: 

Dynamic, custom screening capabilities that allow users to create their own screens, comparisons, and watchlists. 

Access to pre-made screens curated by CFRA based on trending themes and categories of interest to asset managers, wealth managers, and investors. 

Enhanced data and insights to help users stay ahead of market trends. 

Copper Financial 

Copper Financial Network LLC, an SEC registered investment adviser and FINRA registered broker-dealer, announced it has launched Guided Investing – a digital tool that builds and automatically rebalances a diversified and professionally managed portfolio based on a member’s unique goals and risk profile. With Guided Investing, credit unions can offer their members a more convenient way to start investing and help achieve their financial goals. 

Copper Financial is one of the first companies to create a digital investing solution designed specifically for credit unions that is completely accessible through a member’s online banking tool. Copper Financial joined with fintech leader Apex Fintech Solutions Inc. (“Apex”) to support the development of Guided Investing. 

iCapital 

Keebeck Wealth Management, a boutique, independent advisory firm dedicated to empowering entrepreneurs and multi-generational families with strategic wealth management, announced a partnership with iCapital, a global fintech platform driving the world’s alternative investment marketplace for the wealth management industry. This collaboration will offer Keebeck’s clientele unparalleled alignment, access, and edge to investment opportunities and marks a significant milestone in the wealth management industry. 

The partnership between Keebeck Wealth Management and iCapital is designed to provide a competitive advantage by enhancing the alignment, access, and edge to sophisticated investment opportunities. It also symbolizes a broadening relationship with iCapital that is poised to support Keebeck’s rapid growth trajectory. 

LifeYield 

LifeYield, 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. 

Annuity sales enjoyed record growth in the past two years,* driven in part by the waves of individuals approaching retirement and seeking the security of: 

Protected lifetime income that complements Social Security benefits. 

An income source to bridge a gap while they delay Social Security to maximize their benefits. 

A hedge against the risks of longevity, inflation and market instability in retirement. 

Merit Financial Advisors 

Merit Financial Advisors (“Merit”), a national wealth management firm with over $10 billion in assets under management, today announced the launch of its new Advisor Affiliation Model, Merit Amplify. The new offering provides financial advisors and their firms with an additional way to collaborate with Merit Financial Advisors, offering flexibility and tailored solutions, outside of a merger and acquisition option. 

Merit Amplify is designed for advisors seeking the benefits of Merit Financial Advisors while preserving their independence. According to Rick Kent, CEO at Merit, “Think of it as a form of courting, a time for a firm owner to “date” a prospective partner before “marrying” and making the decision to merge or be acquired. We believe that Merit Amplify will redefine the advisor affiliation landscape, providing a flexible and supportive platform for firms looking to thrive in an ever-evolving industry.” 

Key Features of Merit Amplify include: 

  • Independence with Support
  • Investment Management Expertise
  • Essential Tech Offerings
  • Compliance Services
  • Strategic Brokerage Partnership
  • Succession Planning Benefits 

Merit Amplify supports firms with succession planning, offering services like Buy/Sell Agreements and simplifying the transition if and when a firm owner decides to sell. 

Merit Amplify also provides the ability for firms to opt into additional elective services. Firms can choose from services such as investment management, advanced technology offerings, and human resource support, for an extra fee if needed. 

Nitrogen 

Nitrogen announced significant updates across its suite of products, including Command Center, along with an extensive suite of enterprise tools designed to supercharge wealth management firms. 

As part of its latest updates, Nitrogen is leveling up its enterprise tools, now reintegrated and consolidated under Command Center. These powerful dashboards and firm controls, now available to Ignite and Ultimate users, underscores the company’s commitment to offering sophisticated, scalable solutions for advisory businesses of any size. Command Center comprises multiple dashboards and customizable firm controls, which serve as essential resources for executives to measure the growth and risk of their entire book of business. 

A key update to the Command Center is the introduction of “subdomains” for Nitrogen Ultimate users. This allows for the creation of a hierarchical access system within firms, enabling a more nuanced and secure division between primary “root domain” executives and “subdomain” executives. For example, a chief compliance officer as a root domain executive would be able to view activity across all offices, whereas a regional director could be designated as a subdomain executive with access limited to specific regions. 

Retireable 

Retirable announced a strategic partnership with eHealth, a pioneer in health insurance solutions. This collaboration aims to provide comprehensive support for seniors by combining retirement planning expertise with tailored Medicare and health insurance solutions, ensuring better health and wealth outcomes for this important demographic. 

As the American population ages, the intersection of health and wealth becomes increasingly critical. Retirable recognizes the unique challenges faced by seniors as they navigate both retirement planning and healthcare decisions—and the importance of understanding how they impact each other. 

By partnering with eHealth, a company known for its innovative approach to health insurance, the joint effort aims to empower seniors with integrated solutions and comprehensive support to make informed choices that positively impact their financial and physical well-being. 

In its new partnership with an industry leader like eHealth, Retirable is firmly committing to enhance the lives of seniors by addressing the dual challenges of retirement planning and healthcare. This partnership marks a significant step forward in creating a more integrated and supportive ecosystem for a population that is often overlooked by legacy solutions. 

Saifr 

Saifr, a compliance solutions provider created by Fidelity Investments®, today announced the acquisition of capabilities from Giant Oak. Saifr will acquire GOST, an artificial intelligence platform for adverse media screening and monitoring that serves financial institutions. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. 

Giant Oak’s GOST technology platform will expand Saifr’s suite of regulatory technology solutions, which aim to simplify the complex regulatory landscape for risk, compliance, and marketing teams in the financial industry. With this addition, financial institutions will have access to new capabilities across regulatory intelligence, due diligence, risk management analytics, and continuous monitoring. 

SEI | TIFIN 

SEI announced a strategic investment of $10 million in TIFIN, a leading innovation platform accelerating the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) in wealth management. TIFIN’s pace of development and breadth of AI solutions—combined with SEI’s scale, technology, and distribution—will help enhance and personalize client experiences and support business growth. 

SEI and TIFIN expect that their strategic partnership will accelerate value and growth for the industry through: 

Rapid exploration and solution delivery: Evaluating and testing new ideas quickly with a clear path to build or co-invest in promising opportunities 

Access to market innovation: Engaging the financial services ecosystem to share best practices and resources and to stay abreast of the pace of change in AI and wealth technology 

Talent development: Empowering growth and learning through access to a greater pool of talent in emerging technologies, as well as externship programs 

Substance Creative 

Substance Strategy & Creative, a provider of marketing solutions for financial institutions, announced the launch of a groundbreaking new offering, Images of Substance. Powered by artificial intelligence (A.I.), Images of Substance revolutionizes the way financial marketers approach visual branding and content creation with a tool that allows them to differentiate their brand visually, increase control over image selection and significantly reduce stock imagery expenses with a savings of 50 to 75 percent. 

Creating a custom image library is quick and convenient. Through a collaborative process, Substance will work directly with clients to define the brand’s image style and editorial theme. In as little as six weeks, marketers will have a custom image style that fits and differentiates their brand and a library of 20, 35 or 60 starter images. Clients will also be able to create new images in the future through an A.I. powered custom image generator that understands and uses the brand’s image guidelines, further enabling brand consistency and lowering dependance on stock image and costs.