Advisor Tech Talk (Week of 3/04/24)

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News from big fintechs bolsters another busy lineup of advisor technology headlines for this week, with announcements from the likes of Orion, Envestnet and Nitrogen filling in between news from smaller firms and upstarts. 

But this week also gives us a chance to delve into some recent insight into just how the wealth management industry continues to digitize itself, and how consumers are responding to the progress being made (or lack thereof). Research from ThoughtLab, Deloitte and FNZ, who surveyed 250 wealth management executives and 2,000 investors internationally gives us some idea of where we’re heading. 

The investors want digital experiences, especially the generations on the receiving end of the great wealth transfer. Nearly two-thirds of these investors, 74% of Millennials and 71% of Gen Xers, want digital experiences from investment providers on par with what they experience from digital-born companies like Amazon. Overall, three-fifths of investors want to be offered better digital tools so they can manage investments directly by themselves. 

Here’s the scary finding from the consumer side of things: Most investors, 51%, are open to moving their accounts to big brand retailers or tech companies if given the opportunity. Fees will drive many investors to make the change—56% of the investors in the survey say they are considering changing providers over the next three years, with fees named as a top reason. 

It should come as little surprise that more than half of the wealth management executives, 52%, expect a dramatic industry shakeout caused by digital transformation. 

Technologies like AI and blockchain will disintermediate most services and commoditize most products, according to the wealth management executives in the survey, forcing firms to add more value-added services to justify their fees. 

Surveys like this one make it clear that wealthtech, which we like to think of as potentially a great equalizer leveling the playing field in the industry, may at least temporarily create deeper schisms and steeper stratification in wealth management, both between bigger firms that have the scale to implement more advance technology and their smaller counterparts, and between firms that exclusively serve a wealthier clientele versus those more open to the mass affluent. 

Let’s get to the headlines…


Acrisure 

Acrisure, a global Fintech leader, today announced a new division integrating its wholesale property and casualty businesses under the new brand “Wholesure”. 

The division will report into Grahame Millwater, Vice Chairman of Global Markets and International. 

In addition to his role of overseeing all Acrisure’s International and Reinsurance businesses and Acrisure’s relationships with global carriers, Grahame will also lead Acrisure’s Wholesale and Specialty business. This division will include Wholesure, MGAs and Programs, Third-party Administrators, Individual and Group Benefit Solutions, and various specialty businesses such as Aerospace, Trade Credit and Captives. 

Envestnet 

Envestnet, a provider of integrated technology, intelligent data and wealth solutions recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of the launch of its Quantitative Portfolios (QPs), the company’s internally managed direct indexing solutions for advisors available on its industry leading platform. First made available in 2013 to provide clients with a passive strategy that combined tax management and customization, today Envestnet is one of the largest direct index separately managed account providers, with more than $9 billion in QP assets as of the fourth quarter of 2023.    

Created to offer advisors in Envestnet’s ecosystem access to direct indexing solutions for clients, Envestnet’s QPs are a suite of asset class-specific investments that blend the benefits of “beta” investing with the portfolio customization of managed accounts.  

Nitrogen 

Nitrogen announced the deployment of its platform to Sherman Portfolios, a leading registered investment advisor (“RIA”). Through this partnership, Nitrogen will integrate Sherman Portfolios’ investment strategies into its platform, offering Nitrogen’s advisors a broader array of options for client portfolio construction. At the same time, Sherman Portfolios’ advisors will gain access to Nitrogen’s proprietary Risk Number, facilitating improved risk evaluation and more meaningful client conversations. 

With over $1B between their AUM and assets under advisement, Sherman Portfolios is dedicated to delivering innovative solutions and comprehensive support to its clients. This partnership with Nitrogen underscores the firm’s commitment to empowering advisors with the tools and resources needed to create efficient portfolios and manage risk effectively while also highlighting how the Risk Number can be effectively applied to a variety of investment strategies, including tactically managed portfolios. By embracing real-time market signals and data-driven research, Nitrogen and Sherman Portfolios are setting a new standard for risk and portfolio management all while empowering advisors to facilitate empowering conversations with clients around risk. 

NVDR 

NDVR, a tech-forward wealth management firm serving advisors, family offices, and high-net-worth individuals, announced that it has launched a new version of the NDVR Portfolio Lab that dramatically improves advisor efficiency and client expected outcomes. 

The updated Portfolio Lab is a significant step forward in the asset management industry, enabling the creation of a hyper-personalized investment strategy and asset allocation for each client, while optimizing for their unique (and ever-evolving) circumstances, goals, and requirements with outcome forecasting – all at a scale not previously possible. Most importantly, though, this work can all be done in a matter of minutes rather than the hours or even days it has historically taken advisors. 

Advisor and RIA clients can now have access to portfolios that offer opportunities for enhanced growth and security to traditional strategies while taking advantage of advanced fee and tax optimization to keep more of their money in their pockets. The NDVR Portfolio Lab provides better insights into their financial possibilities and gives them confidence in their financial future. 

Orion Advisor Solutions 

DPL Financial Partners and Orion Advisor Solutions today announced an expanded partnership to build upon the firms’ existing integration and provide fee-based financial advisors on the Orion Advisor Technology platform with direct access to DPL’s commission-free annuity marketplace, Product Discovery Tools, and team of licensed insurance consultants. 

In addition to a comprehensive line-up of commission-free annuities and best-in-class life, disability and long-term care products, Orion advisors will have direct, integrated access into DPL’s proprietary tools for discovering and comparing annuities by type, benefits, and costs. Robust data feeds from DPL into the Orion Advisor Technology platform enable management of annuity assets alongside other investments in the client’s portfolio. 

PreciseFP 

Income Lab and PreciseFP announced a data integration partnership. This new API integration helps financial advisors save time and streamline the retirement planning process by connecting the two platforms to enhance the client experience. 

Income Lab is an award-winning and top-rated retirement planning tool, receiving high marks in the Kitces.com 2023 AdvisorTech Report and the 2024 T3/Inside Information Advisor Software Survey. In addition, Income Lab was named “Best in Show” at the XYPN Live events in 2022 and 2023. 

Sprott 

The Sprott Family, Peter Grosskopf and a management team led by Michael Petch have become the founding investors of Argo Digital Gold Ltd. (“Argo”), a new investment platform that will provide investors with secure and digital access to physical gold. 

The first phase of the Argo platform is expected to launch during Q2 2024 and will offer significant new benefits to precious metals investors. The platform will have enhanced security features in gold storage and custody, 24/7 trading, the opportunity for fractional ownership, and industry-leading low and transparent fees. Gold purchased on the platform will be registered in a dedicated account for each individual investor, securely stored at the Royal Canadian Mint. Argo intends to add other vaults located in safe and secure jurisdictions as part of future global expansion plans. 

Michael Petch will lead this new venture as President. As an experienced digital assets executive and entrepreneur in blockchain technology, Michael previously launched the CoinShares Gold and Cryptoassets Index (CGCI) and one of the first gold-backed stablecoins (DGLD) in Switzerland.  

With seed funding secured to build the technology, Argo expects to launch the first phase of its gold investment platform in late Q2 2024.

StratiFi 

StratiFi–a fast-growing risk management platform that provides wealth management firms and industry professionals a one-stop-shop solution for portfolio risk analysis, client risk profiling and compliance–announced a partnership with iQUANT. 

iQUANT provides firms and advisors with time-tested and unemotional investment models for mutual funds, ETFs, stocks, 401(k)s and variable annuities. Its platform also includes a portfolio optimization tool. The partnership will result in mutual customers having access to nearly 70 custom investment and risk management models, each of which come at no additional cost. 

iQUANT’s proven rule-based investment models can be customized to different financial instruments. In being able to lean on data to make important portfolio management decisions for clients, advisors can steer clear of underperforming investment managers, boost efficiencies within their own practice and spend more time focusing on business development. 

TIFIN 

TIFIN, an AI and innovation platform for wealth, announced a new phase of collaboration between TIFIN AG and RBC Wealth Management-U.S. All financial advisors at RBC Wealth Management-U.S. now have access to AI-Powered Insights, a new program that uses artificial intelligence to observe client behaviors and patterns to identify those who might have money in motion following a significant financial event. Started as a pilot program last August, AI-Powered Insights officially rolled out company-wide this week. 

The work with RBC Wealth Management-U.S. represents the impact that TIFIN AG is driving across many different wealth enterprises. The company has continued to invest in accelerating its growth since spinning off from parent TIFIN in January of 2024. This move included the appointment of a new independent board. Today’s announcement follows a series of recent news of partnerships as TIFIN expands its presence as a leader in AI innovation in the wealth management industry. 

Vestmark 

Vestmark, Inc., a provider of wealth management software and services, and Invesco Ltd., a global investment management firm, announced a partnership set to transform the Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) channel. As of today, RIAs using new and existing Invesco models will gain access to Vestmark VAST, an innovative solution providing personalization and tax management at scale. 

Vestmark VAST simplifies the creation of personalized tax-optimized portfolios for financial advisors at scale. Designed to meet advisors and clients where they are, VAST enables the creation of tailored, tax optimized portfolios aligned to each client’s personal situation. Vestmark’s tax transition service also helps to ensure the tax-efficient transition of legacy positions from other accounts or firms. 

Vyzer 

Vyzer, a digital wealth management platform, announced a strategic collaboration with Akoya, a 100% API-connected data access network. This partnership introduces Akoya as the third financial data aggregator in Vyzer’s platform, broadening secure financial data access from more institutions and advancing data protection and user control for investors. 

Vyzer goes beyond basic tracking, offering sophisticated, automated wealth management solutions. Designed for investors with substantial private investments, Vyzer’s platform features automated and integrated data syncing for effortless wealth management. 

Vyzer’s collaboration with Akoya as a third aggregator underscores its commitment to secure, innovative financial tools. This partnership solves banking integration challenges and allows clients to securely access a unified view of their investment data without compromising privacy. 

WealthArc 

A new AI and data analytics solution, WealthArc AI & Analytics, successfully combines the strengths of neural networks and symbolic logic using neuro-symbolic KGQA (knowledge graph question/answering) and LLM (Large Language Models) to create access to up-to-date and accurate intelligent information that enables family offices and wealth managers to effortlessly access, navigate and comprehend complex data sets and interact with it in an easy manner. 

WealthArc, a Swiss-born global wealth data management solution provider, has partnered with ZeroLink, a pioneering company in neuro-symbolic AI technology, to develop the cutting-edge machine learning-powered ‘Chat with your data’ service, and hopes to target family offices and the wealth management market across the GCC with AuM worth US$650 billion. 

YCharts 

YCharts, a cloud-based investment research and client communications platform, announced an integration with iRebal, a portfolio rebalancing tool offered within Schwab Advisor Center. This enhancement further solidifies YCharts’ longstanding participation in Schwab’s integration program and is aimed at delivering advanced capabilities and portfolio management solutions to the organizations’ shared user base. 

The iRebal integration represents a significant milestone for YCharts, marking its first two-way API integration with a portfolio rebalancing tool and underscoring its commitment to expanding functionalities within its integration ecosystem. With an ongoing focus on providing Schwab advisors with the latest tools and data, YCharts’ users can now seamlessly streamline portfolio and model management processes, import data from Schwab, and effortlessly push model portfolio data back to iRebal to implement new strategies.