Advisor Tech Talk (Week of 3/11/24)

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As fintech continues to proliferate and transforms the wealth management landscape, advisors are engaged in not one, but multiple arms races. 

The biggest arms race, one that we’ve mentioned in our roundup of advisor tech headlines multiple times before, is between the incumbent wealth management industry still reliant on legacy technology versus consumer-facing technology and fintech firms boasting cutting-edge solutions and interfaces. The longer incumbent firms wait to embrace emerging tech and the more advanced consumer and technology companies become, the more clients will turn away from traditional financial services—or never engage in the first place. 

However, a secondary battle is also being waged. As technology infuses itself into every transaction, contact and touch point in the financial industry, so do technological vulnerabilities that a shadow army of cybercriminals will try to exploit. 

And so we come to a recent report released by financial services cybersecurity non-profit FS-ISAC and Akamai Technologies that found that financial services firms were on the receiving end of more than one-third of direct denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, among the most common cybercriminal attacks against web- and app-based technology, in 2023. From 2022 to 2023, the financial services industry experienced a 154% increase in such attacks. 

Now, for the most part, DDoS attacks aren’t directly trying to steal client information or money, and they’re not necessarily associated with ransom and other attempts at illicit  financial gain. Instead, DDoS attacks are usually aimed at disruption, causing outages and failures that stress both financial firms and their clients. But if DDoS attacks are on the rise so dramatically, it’s almost certain that other types of exploits are as well. 

If financial services becomes even more digitized over the next few years, as we expect, then the technological vuulnerabilities of the industry will also become more numerous, requiring both greater vigilance and an increased spend on cybersecurity and deterrence 

On a much lighter note, this week we have news from the likes of Orion, F2 Strategy, Advyzon and Intention.ly, among many, many others.

Let’s get to our advisor tech headlines…


Acrisure 

Acrisure announced the formation of its Great Lakes Region, encompassing its businesses in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio. Over the last year, Acrisure has rapidly rolled out the Acrisure brand to its businesses throughout the United States to ensure clients know the breadth of solutions it offers people’s businesses and lives, including insurance, mortgage origination, cyber services, payroll and much more. 

The Great Lakes Region is led by long-time Partner Kelly Reed and represents more than 1,100 employees and serves more than 180,000 clients. This area of the U.S. has further significance within Acrisure – namely, the Company’s headquarters are located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and in 2023 Acrisure opened an office in Columbus, Ohio for its growing Digital Sales and Service team. 

Great Lakes Region Managing Partner Kelly Reed brings over 15 years of experience to the role in healthcare, surety, construction, manufacturing, professional liability and transportation. As Managing Partner, Reed will focus on establishing and achieving strategic and financial goals for the three states. 

Advyzon 

Advyzon, a comprehensive service and technology platform and portfolio management solution for financial advisors and investment managers, announced two new additions to the executive team, Kartik Srinivasan as President of Advyzon Institutional and Dave Goes as President of Enterprise Sales. These hires come on the heels of the inaugural Advyzon Conference that took place February 20-22, 2024 in Phoenix, Arizona, where several key enhancements of the next generation platform – which includes a new mobile app, workflow automations, artificial intelligence capabilities, and rebalancing tax optimizations – were announced. 

Kartik Srinivasan joins as President of Advyzon Institutional, a newly created business unit at the firm. He will focus on building out product and service offerings to cater to the growing needs of advisors serving more complex clients. 

Srinivasan has a long track record of building innovative solutions for advisors. He spent over 12 years at Morningstar – the bulk of it helping build their portfolio management system and working with Hailin Li, who eventually left to form Advyzon. After Morningstar, Srinivasan joined Schwab Advisor Services, where he spent over seven years leading third-party integrations and partnerships. He grew that group substantially to serve hundreds of third-parties, and played a crucial role in the integration of the TD Ameritrade Institutional business into Schwab Advisor Services. 

Capitalize 

Capitalize announced a new partnership with Ellevest, the investing and wealth management company built by women, for women. Through this partnership, Ellevest will embed Capitalize’s Enterprise Rollover solution to help clients find and consolidate their legacy 401(k) accounts into their Ellevest individual retirement accounts (IRA), thereby allowing them to take control of and grow their retirement savings. 

Ellevest joins a growing number of leading IRA providers using Capitalize’s Enterprise Rollover solution. Capitalize’s proprietary technology and dedicated service team help customers of IRA providers find legacy 401(k)s and seamlessly roll them over to fund their IRAs. Capitalize introduced its Enterprise Rollover solution in 2021 as an extension of its award-winning consumer rollover platform launched widely in 2020. 

Capco 

Capco, the global technology and management consultancy, and Innowatts Inc., announced a new partnership to reduce energy clients’ exposure to market risk among other challenges. The partnership brings together Innowatts’ AI energy data analytics platform with Capco’s proven delivery and technology expertise in the retail energy and utility space. 

Innowatts is a leader in AI energy data analytics serving retail energy providers, utilities and grid operators, as well as commercial, industrial, and public entities worldwide. As volatility in the energy markets continues, the Innowatts SaaS platform provides companies with the data, insights, forecasts, and solutions they need to be more predictive, proactive, and connected to their customers. This in turn helps those organizations better manage risk, improve profitability, maintain grid reliability, and anticipate sustainability trends. 

Drawing on its established track record in simplifying the complexity of wholesale and retail energy delivery, Capco will offer a range of business and technology consulting services, including project management and integration solutions, for retail energy suppliers and utilities. 

CSI 

CSI, a provider of end-to-end financial software and technology, and LinkLive, an all-in-one, AI-enabled communications platform delivering cloud-based Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS), DCS, and Enterprise Communications, announced the expansion of their partnership, bringing embedded LinkLive solutions to CSI digital banking customers. The partnership with LinkLive differentiates CSI and enables the company to offer unique, essential digital engagement features such as chat, desktop share, and other digital-first features like appointment scheduling and AI-powered ChatBots for its customers. 

Consumers and businesses demand service that is high-touch and available around the clock, so it is vital for banks to allow them to help themselves via self-service, but also provide the right response anywhere and anytime. LinkLive allows financial institutions to deliver this best-in-class customer experience through integrations with common CRM platforms to deliver context to agents and resolve problems quickly. LinkLive helps agents, licensed professionals, and enterprise users deliver the best experience within a compliant, flexible platform. 

CSI embeds LinkLive digital-first messaging into its digital banking solution available to more than 400 financial institution customers, further enabling digital engagement and delivering best-in-class experiences to drive successful outcomes. As a result, CSI customers are positioned to add additional CCaaS and hybrid work features for their institution’s contact center agents and enterprise users. 

F2 Strategy 

F2 Strategy announced the acquisition of a full-service, boutique marketing consultancy, SKY Marketing Consultants (“SKY”), which specializes in providing branding and marketing advisor services for wealth management firms and their advisors. With the acquisition of SKY, F2 pairs its technology implementation and strategic consulting services with high-touch marketing strategies and solutions fit to serve firms across the wealth management industry. 

As a result of this acquisition, which closed in early February, SKY’s co-founder Jeremy Jackson will become F2’s chief marketing officer, while co-founder Liz Fritz will remain actively involved with strategic growth initiatives as a board officer. Doug Fritz, CEO and co-founder at F2 Strategy, will lead the unified teams under the F2 brand. 

Co-founded in 2014 by Jackson and Josh Roesslein, SKY is a full-service marketing consultancy that distinguishes itself from competitors through its financial services expertise and steadfast dedication to excellence in growth marketing initiatives. The firm provides strategic positioning and marketing services, client marketing and messaging, and a suite of digital marketing solutions that are designed for national and regional broker-dealers, independent registered investment advisors (RIAs) and asset managers. 

Foundation Source 

Foundation Source, the nation’s largest provider of cloud-based solutions for private foundations and planned giving, announced the appointment of Mark Casady to its Board of Directors. Casady is the founder of Vestigo Ventures and the former chairman and CEO of LPL Financial. 

Mr. Casady has four decades of experience working across the financial services landscape, most recently as a Partner and Founder of Vestigo Ventures, a venture capital firm that invests in fintech companies. Prior, Mr. Casady spent 15 years at LPL Financial where he served as chairman and CEO. Under his leadership, LPL grew to become the largest independent broker-dealer in the United States and completed an initial public offering in 2010 with a market capitalization of more than $3 billion. Earlier in his career he held leadership roles at Scudder Investments, Concord Financial Group, and Northern Trust. He currently serves as a board member or advisor to several of Vestigo’s portfolio companies including DVx, Kingfield, Wagmo, ZenLedger, Retirable, Climate Club, Jobble, and PactFi. 

Active in philanthropy, Mr. Casady serves as an officer of the One Step Forward Education Foundation and is a founding benefactor of Invest in Others Charitable Foundation. Mr. Casady attended the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University and obtained an MBA from the DePaul University Driehaus College of Business. 

Intention.ly 

Intention.ly, the growth engine design consultancy firm transforming the way finserv and fintech companies approach sales and marketing, announced that it has teamed up with Nitrogen, the industry’s leading provider of integrated risk tolerance, proposal generation and portfolio analytics software for wealth management firms. This marks Nitrogen’s selection of Intention.ly as an official marketing partner, affording joint customers exclusive pricing on Intention.ly’s marketing services and empowering Nitrogen’s financial professionals to reach a broader audience. 

Nitrogen’s customers will also have the ability to utilize Intention.ly’s Advisor Brand Builder, offering high-impact options for both visual and written elements of a firm’s brand. The cutting-edge technology serves breakaway advisors, established advisory firms and enterprise firms recruiting advisors to create a comprehensive brand from inception to applied brand assets in under 48 hours. 

Intention.ly wealth management clients will also receive exclusive pricing on purchases of Nitrogen’s client engagement platform as a vetted partner to the firm. The Nitrogen Platform includes client-facing risk alignment, portfolio comparison, proposal generation and portfolio analytics capabilities in addition to the high-conversion Lead Generation Questionnaire. 

Ocrolus 

Ocrolus, a leader in AI-driven financial document automation and analysis, and Envestnet | Yodlee, a leading data aggregation and analytics platform, announced a strategic partnership that will embed Ocrolus technologies into the Envestnet | Yodlee platform.  

Through the partnership, Ocrolus technology will enable Envestnet | Yodlee customers to gather financial data from uploaded documents, such as bank and income statements to supplement data from digital sources. By providing end-users with the option to either submit documents or digitally connect bank accounts, Envestnet | Yodlee now expands its document coverage capabilities. 

Ocrolus’ AI-driven document automation technology supports more than 1,000 document types with over 99 percent accuracy, regardless of format or quality. With the ability to capture and analyze data from both documents and digital connections, Envestnet | Yodlee is assisting users and enabling more efficient and confident decision-making.   

Opto Investments 

Opto Investments (“Opto”), the technology-driven solution that empowers forward-looking investment advisors to confidently access private markets, announced appointments in key leadership positions, as well as a suite of product enhancements. These strategic steps underscore Opto’s commitment to delivering the best experience for wealth advisors throughout their private markets investing journey via a cutting-edge technology platform. Opto unlocks access to truly differentiated private markets opportunities and builds customized solutions based on the needs of registered investment advisory (RIA) practices. 

Co-founder Jake Miller, a key figure in Opto’s leadership team since the firm’s inception in 2020 and responsible for guiding its growth strategy, has been named chief solutions officer. Miller spearheads initiatives aimed at enhancing Opto’s RIA partnerships and integrating institutional-quality investment techniques and programs into its platform. Before co-founding Opto, Miller spent nearly five years as an investor at Bridgewater Associates, where he continued to build on his expertise in alternative investments. 

Assuming the role of chief technology officer, Matt Reed, a co-founder at Opto who leads its engineering efforts, is instrumental in upholding the company’s tech-first approach. His leadership focuses on ensuring the continuous development and smooth operation of Opto’s proprietary technology stack. As a CFA charterholder and engineer, Reed is skilled in both investment management and software development. With over 14 years of experience in building financial advisor software, featuring technology leadership positions at Addepar and Strategic Global Advisors, Reed is well positioned to drive innovation in this domain. 

Orion 

Orion announced it has selected CAIS to provide Orion’s Wealth Advisory and OCIO clients access to alternative investment funds and products, diversify client portfolios and deepen client relationships. 

The collaboration between CAIS and Orion will provide access to private equity, private debt, private real estate and hedge funds to Orion’s Wealth Advisory and OCIO clients. Orion plans to expand access to Orion Portfolio Solutions and Orion Advisor Technology clients soon. This comes at a time when advisor demand for alternatives is reaching record levels – a recent CAIS-Mercer survey of more than 250 independent financial advisors found that 85% of respondents are expecting to increase allocations to alternatives by 2025, with 78% saying it helps clients meet goals and objectives. 

In addition to access to alternative funds and products, Orion’s advisors will benefit from streamlined workflows across the pre-trade, trade, and post-trade experience, including end-to-end digitized transaction processing and integrations with leading US custodians. The strategic integration will also play a critical role in expanding advisor education around alternatives – Orion Advisor Academy will prominently feature “Fundamentals of Alternatives” from CAIS IQ, CAIS’ proprietary education platform offered to financial advisors at no cost. 

Pontera 

Pontera, the fintech company helping retirement savers receive professional 401(k) guidance from their trusted financial advisor, and AdvisorEngine, the financial experience company, have announced a partnership to streamline expert retirement plan asset management. 

Through this integration, advisors using Pontera and the AdvisorEngine Wealth Platform, including AdvisorEngine CRM, can offer investment management, performance reporting and billing across clients’ entire portfolios, including 401(k)s, 403(b)s and other workplace retirement plan accounts. Advisors using both solutions can analyze and rebalance plan holdings as part of an end-to-end, personalized financial plan that better addresses their clients’ needs. 

AdvisorEngine is building the future of financial advice through powerful and intuitive technology for advisors that’s connected, approachable and scalable. Its innovative wealth management platform helps advisors elevate the client experience and increase the operational efficiency of their firm. 

Practice Intel 

Practice Intel, a data driven platform to help advisors and firms scale organic growth, today announced the appointment of six distinguished financial and tech professionals to its newly established advisory board. These industry veterans are set to play a vital role in steering Practice Intel’s efforts to elevate advisor-client relationships and help advisors scale organic growth. Practice Intel’s inaugural advisory board members are: 

Malcolm Ethridge, CFP, executive vice president at CIC Wealth, CNBC on-air contributor, and host of the “Tech Money” podcast 

Dean Harman, CFP, managing director, Harman Wealth Management, member of FINRA’s Industry Diversity Advisory Committee, and past chair of the Financial Services Institute 

Dr. Jordan Hutchison, vice president of technology at RFG Advisory, adjunct professor at the College for Financial Planning and host of the “Game Film with Dr. J” podcast 

James Lee, CFP, AIF, CRPC, president of Lee Investment Management LLC, and past president of the Financial Planning Association 

Raleigh Peters, senior advisor at New Mountain Capital and private investor in Grey Widgeon Partners 

Scooter Willis, Ph.D., chief executive officer of OneTouch Robotics and founder of TechGarage 

RFG Advisory 

RFG Advisory, (“RFG”) an innovator in the wealth management industry committed to serving independent financial advisors and their clients, announced three key appointments to its executive team. The addition of these proven industry champions serves to bolster the team of A-players at RFG all aligned to serve the ever-evolving needs of independent advisors. 

Abby Salameh, an industry pioneer with over 25 years of building growth services for independent financial advisors, joins RFG as chief growth officer. Salameh, who previously served as the chief marketing officer, head of strategic partnerships and managing director of CAIS IQ, a tech-enabled education platform, is well-positioned to propel the growth model for the registered investment advisory (RIA). Recognized as the 2023 WeathManagement.com Technology CMO of the Year, Salameh is set to drive advisor recruitment, marketing and organic growth among RFG’s existing network of advisors. 

SMArtX Advisory Solutions 

SMArtX Advisory Solutions announced it has added 23 strategies offered by seven leading asset management firms to its platform. The platform currently features 1,350 strategies from over 300 asset management firms. 

Richard Bernstein Advisors is now offering a global risk-balanced moderate strategy from their ETF product suite. Several existing firms, including BlackRock, Capital Research and Management Company, Franklin Advisers, iSectors, Stansberry Asset Management, and WCM Investment Management, collectively added 22 strategies to the platform. These strategies demonstrate themes across international and U.S. equity, fixed income, and cryptocurrency. 

SMArtX’s continued growth is driven by two main applications of its technology: the off-the-shelf TAMP offering, which is built using SMArtX Advisory Solutions’ proprietary UMA technology, and the ability to further deploy that tailored UMA technology through APIs to meet the mandates of large enterprises, RIA platforms, and hybrid broker-dealers.