Advisor Tech Talk (Week of 4/1/24)

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Today’s Advisor Tech Talk should stand as an example of the momentum behind wealth management technology. 

See, it being “spring break” week around many of the urban areas of the US – the week after Western Christianity’s Easter holiday being one where most children have off from school and many families take a vacation—we here at Digital Wealth News had thought that there would be few wealthtech headlines to share with you, and that we would instead create a roundup of some of the bigger wealth management news items that took place in the first quarter of calendar year 2024. 

Well, so much for those plans—wealthtech hasn’t gone on spring break just yet. In fact, we have 15 headlines to share with you on what was supposed to be a slow week. Unlike us humans, technology doesn’t really need a holiday. It’s a reminder that while human financial professionals take holidays and vacations, and have other concerns like children and families and their personal lives, these technological solutions spend all of their time and energy working for us, freeing more of us to enjoy our children, families and personal lives, spending less of our precious, limited energy and time on work so that we can all give more to the people and things we love.

So while most of the country recovers from its Easter candy hangover, we have headlines from FusionIQ, Voyant, Empower and FP Alpha. 

Let’s get to it…  


Acrisure 

Acrisure announced the formation of a newly dedicated Life and Health business segment that will fall under the Company’s recently announced Wholesure division. Wholesure comprises Acrisure’s P&C wholesale lines of business and now expands to include Life and Health. 

The Life and Health segment will bring together numerous Acrisure Partners specializing in Life, Disability, Accident and Health, Enrollment Services and Employee Benefits TPA services. This group will work in lockstep with other partners within the Wholesure division to enhance Acrisure’s comprehensive market offerings, both internally and externally, with third-party retailers. 

Seth Denson, who serves as Head of Employee Benefits for Acrisure’s retail business, has been appointed to the additional role as lead of the Life and Health Business. Denson has over 24 years of experience specializing in the employee benefits and risk management space, helping clients prioritize and solve risk related issues within their portfolios. Denson has had numerous leadership roles within Acrisure, helping the Company shape its employee benefits strategy and product offering. 

Altoo 

Altoo AG, a fintech that empowers investment professionals, family offices and individual ultra-high-net-worth clients to conveniently oversee their wealth, and Divizend GmbH, a technology company that develops solutions for dividend investments and related tax issues, have announced a collaboration that automates and enhances the cash flows of shares and bonds held by clients using the Altoo Wealth Management Platform. 

The newly launched automated forecasting feature for upcoming dividend payments on security holdings is designed to help Altoo clients optimize future cash flow assessment and liquidity. Dividend payments are automatically predicted for all holdings, while automated tracking within the Altoo platform makes it easy for investors to ensure all planned cash flows are included in their forecasts. 

Altoo and Divizend are considered rising stars in the Swiss fintech market, most recently being named among the top five Growth Stage Start-ups of the Year in the Swiss FinTech Awards. Chosen by an independent jury of 20 fintech experts, the awards recognize outstanding Swiss fintech start-ups “which have a successful product on the market, a working business model and clear signs of (exponential) growth.” 

Choreo 

Choreo announced the launch of Choreo Momentum. The initiative is designed to help accelerate growth through integrated community-building networks, practice management and sales training for the firm’s women advisors. Choreo Momentum will also leverage fully integrated digital prospecting campaigns to accelerate client acquisition, focused on women investors and business owners. 

Marissa Fox-Foley, the firm’s Chief Marketing Officer, and Karen Lee, its Chief Growth Officer, will serve as Choreo Momentum’s co-executive sponsors.s 
In support of the initiative, Choreo conducted an in-depth survey to discover the operational resources and networking practices that can position the firm’s women financial professionals to help achieve their long-term goals. Choreo then applied the survey results to help create thoughtful and strategic programming that leverages the expertise of the firm’s key industry and CPA partners. 

Eaglebrook 

Eaglebrook, a digital asset investment platform that provides registered investment advisors (RIAs) with direct access to bitcoin and other digital assets, announced the launch of the Franklin Templeton Digital Asset Dynamic BTC/ETH separately managed account (SMA) strategy. This strategy, which is specifically designed for RIAs and U.S.-based wealth managers, is available on Eaglebrook’s Digital Asset SMA Platform and invested assets will be custodied at Anchorage Digital. 

Digital Asset SMAs offer investors a broader spectrum of assets beyond bitcoin, and with this professionally managed offering from Franklin Templeton, advisors working with high-net-worth (HNW) investors can provide an option for greater tax optimization. Unlike bitcoin exchange-traded products (ETPs) or private funds, Eaglebrook’s tax optimization strategies proactively identify opportunities to reduce or defer capital gain tax liability. 

The Franklin Templeton Digital Asset Dynamic BTC/ETH SMA is an actively managed investment vehicle which seeks to outperform a market cap-weighted portfolio comprising bitcoin and ethereum, the two largest digital assets by market cap. Franklin Templeton provides the model for the strategy to Eaglebrook on a non-discretionary basis. Advisors who plan to leverage the SMA will also have the opportunity to include an automated tax overlay. 

Empower 

Empower announced that Roger Hobby will join the company as Executive Vice President and Head of Advisory & Distribution for the firm’s wealth management business – Empower Personal Wealth™. 

Hobby will join Empower on April 1 and bring extensive wealth management, executive benefits, workplace, and general management skills. He will lead the company’s in-plan and direct-to-consumer long-term customer focus, which will include delivering outstanding service, financial planning, and advice expertise. 

Hobby is a proven financial services leader who has had tremendous success in growing businesses throughout his career by joining innovative thinking to high-quality customer service. He most recently worked at Fidelity Investments, where he was head of distribution for Private Wealth Management, Executive Services, Workplace Planning and Advice, and Stock Plan Services. He led Fidelity’s service to high-net-worth clients and workplace participants to help them meet their investment, equity compensation, trading, and planning needs. 

Empower 

Empower unveiled new plans to launch a digital solution that will remove access barriers and give more small employers the ability to establish workplace retirement plans for their employees. 

Launching mid-2024, the new 401(k) offering presents advisors and third-party administrators (TPAs) with a new means of setting up a retirement plan with an employer that reduces complexity and cost while streamlining administrative duties. The new program — called Ready Select — is designed for small and start-up plans with up to $1 million in assets. 

Historically, complexity and administrative burdens have presented barriers to the creation of workplace retirement plans for small employers and start-up companies. Management teams are often busy with the needs of growing their business, and taking on the additional work of providing retirement benefits can be daunting. According to the Small Business Administration, there are an estimated 33.2 million small businesses in the United States and approximately 62 million individuals who work for these employers.1 These employers represent many of the estimated 33 percent2 to 50 percent3 of private sector workers who are not currently covered by a workplace retirement plan. 

F2 Strategy 

F2 Strategy released a white paper in collaboration with Dynasty Financial Partners, LLC (“Dynasty”), a provider of technology-enabled wealth management solutions and business services for financial advisory firms. This research, aimed at empowering prospective breakaway advisors and existing registered investment advisors (RIAs) in navigating critical technology and operational decisions, indicates substantial benefits for mid-sized firms partnering with Dynasty. 

F2 Strategy and Dynasty collaborated on this study between September and December 2023, with the shared goal of supporting financial advisors as they contemplate independence. This research unlocks valuable insights by benchmarking 38 Dynasty-affiliated RIAs against a wide sample of 4,669 RIA firms registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). It focuses on the implications of technology on firm operations, growth and valuation over a five-year period, examining various technology operational frameworks to aid advisors in a successful transition to independence. 

A key takeaway from the research is the critical role of technology in empowering firms. Establishing a technology platform akin to Dynasty’s proves cost-prohibitive for smaller firms, denoting a significant barrier to entry. Conversely, the study also points to the pitfalls of lower-cost operating models such as custodial-dependent or all-in-one solutions, which, while financially attractive, may compromise scalability and long-term growth potential. 

FP Alpha 

FP Alpha, an AI-driven advanced planning solution for financial advisors and PreciseFP, a client engagement and data gathering platform from Docupace, announced a strategic partnership that will leverage PreciseFPs significant integration partnerships to assist advisors that are using financial planning software that is not currently integrated with FP Alpha. This will allow those advisors the ability to access and auto-populate client data from their planning software directly into the FP Alpha platform, saving hours of time and providing advisors the ability to offer advanced planning to their entire base. 

The expanded integration enables FP Alpha users to collect critical data and documents in a secure manner leveraging the power of PreciseFP. Additionally, the data connection allows FP Alpha users to sync this data with widely used financial planning tools like RightCapital and eMoney Advisor. 

Data and documents are now seamlessly fed into FP Alpha’s AI-driven technology that reads clients’ tax returns, wills, trusts and insurance policies, and instantly summarizes key data and identifies actionable planning insights – reducing what used to take days and hours into minutes. 

FusionIQ 

FusionIQ announced the launch of its groundbreaking FIQ Market One on the FusionIQ One platform. The innovative product marks a significant shift in the wealth management industry, offering a comprehensive investment solution for investors and advisors. 

FIQ Market One transforms the landscape of wealth management, providing access to a diverse array of investment opportunities, including digital assets, special purpose vehicles (SPVs), alternative funds, private investments, and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) in a single market. Through white-labeled, unified advisor and client portals, investors can seamlessly navigate and invest in these assets, revolutionizing the traditional investment model. 

The flexible cloud native FusionIQ One wealth management platform delivers the most comprehensive features and deepest functionality in an all-in-one, providing a seamless digital workflow across its core modules. FusionIQ’s easy to implement products including FIQ Journey, FIQ Market One, and FIQ TAMP+ are designed to get advisors and institutions to market faster, more securely, and at a lower cost, while delivering the efficiencies and productivity necessary for profitable organic growth. 

J.P. Morgan 

J.P. Morgan Wealth Management’s Wealth Plan has helped customers create more than 1 million personalized plans. The tool reached this milestone just over a year since its launch. 

Available for free in the Chase Mobile app and on Chase.com, Wealth Plan is a digital money coach that gives customers a full picture of their finances and helps them plan, save and invest, all in one place. Users can also schedule to speak to an advisor right from the tool. 

With Wealth Plan, users can set and track short-term goals, like a vacation, and long-term goals, such as buying a home or retirement, in real time and get personalized step-by-step guidance and insights. A goal simulator shows customers how different decisions made today can impact their financial future. 

LaSalle St. 

LaSalle St., a family of wealth management firms encompassing independent broker-dealer and registered investment advisor (RIA) platforms, announced the addition of the award-winning Advyzon platform, a comprehensive platform with multiple tools to help advisors run and scale their firms. This addition augments LaSalle St.’s robust technology offerings, Technology Learning Center and related Advisor Concierge Service. 

Advyzon, a Chicago-based technology company, provides a full range of services, including portfolio management, account aggregation, performance reporting, CRM, a growth suite, client portal, mobile app and secure document management. Their platform allows advisors to sign on once and execute all these functions in one streamlined location.  

This latest partnership is part of LaSalle St.’s commitment to continuous improvement of its technology solutions and access to education and support for its advisors. Last year, the firm launched Advisor Concierge Services to enhance its Technology Learning Center. Through this center, LaSalle St. provides its advisors with live and recorded webinars, white papers, podcasts and more, providing best-in-class resources without getting in the way of their entrepreneurial approach to the business. 

NewRetirement 

NewRetirement, a comprehensive, digital-first financial planning platform for consumers and enterprise partners, announced that it has closed its Series A round with $20 million in funding. The round was led by Allegis Capital and joined by Ulu Ventures, Nationwide Ventures, Fin Capital, Frontier Venture Capital, Cameron Ventures, Marin Sonoma Impact Ventures, Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures, Plug and Play Ventures and Motley Fool Ventures, bringing the company’s total funding to $20.8 million. 

Today’s news arrives at a time when access to holistic financial planning is more critical than ever. The majority of Americans – as many as 65%, per Charles Schwab’s Modern Wealth Survey 2023 – have no formal financial plan. Further, while 37% of respondents work with a financial advisor, two-thirds of Americans (66%) believe their financial planning needs improvement, according to Northwestern Mutual’s Planning and Progress Study 2023. Rather than relying on the traditional advisor model – which isn’t accessible to everyone and is difficult to scale – NewRetirement has leveraged technology, data, and modeling to create powerful digital tools that allow anyone to confidently create and manage their own financial plan that goes beyond savings and investments to include human capital, benefits, pensions, Medicare, Social Security, home equity, taxes, decumulation, estate planning and more. The comprehensive planning and modeling engine considers thousands of scenarios, enabling individuals to do holistic accumulation and decumulation planning with digital guidance. NewRetirement’s direct-to-consumer product currently powers financial planning for 70,000 active users who are managing close to $100 billion dollars in their own financial plans. 

With its Series A funding, NewRetirement will expand its enterprise offerings, scale onboarding and support for new partners, enhance R&D efforts aimed at helping its user base, integrate LLMs and AI to provide more personalized recommendations, and build capacity to meet growing demand.   

oneZero 

oneZero, a global leader in multi-asset enterprise trading technology solutions, and TRAction, a leading provider of trade reporting service, have announced a new enhancement to their existing integration. 

TRAction, which specialises in regulatory reporting to simplify compliance for brokers, offers its clients a range of pre-built integrations with trading platforms to help minimise the manual processes involved in their daily reporting obligations, including new requirements such as the EMIR Refit, as well as the upcoming ASIC and MAS rewrites. 

The recent integration seamlessly extracts trade data directly from oneZero’s cloud-based business intelligence toolkit, Data Source, allowing for automated, efficient compliance. 

OpenYield 

OpenYield Trading LLC, a FINRA-registered broker-dealer and SEC-registered alternative trading system (ATS), printed its first trade, marking the launch of its platform. OpenYield modernizes fixed-income investing and empowers broker-dealers, advisors and asset managers to easily enter the bond market or enhance their existing offerings. With unique liquidity, no minimums, flexible APIs and a powerful technology stack that delivers data and analytics, OpenYield provides a low-cost, equity-like marketplace for bond trading.  

To date, OpenYield has onboarded prominent algo-enabled market makers such as Flow Traders and TD Securities Automated Trading. The platform has onboarded Apex Clearing, which supports 100+ brokerages with a combined AUC exceeding $100 billion, and is poised to connect a wide range of subscribers from fintechs to established asset managers.   

OpenYield addresses a range of challenges in fixed income investing that have made it difficult for smaller investors to participate in the asset class. Bond marketplaces traditionally post indicative quotes requiring confirmation, creating uncertainty for investors and operational complexity for execution. The emergence of pricing algorithms have eliminated the need for humans to confirm prices, similar to equity markets. Additionally, OpenYield simplifies bond selection by curating liquid bonds across corporates, municipals and Treasurys. 

Voyant 

Voyant, a global provider of SaaS-based wealth management, wellness and client digital engagement solutions, announced the launch of three simple simulations on the Voyant AdviserGo platform: Longevity Risk, Long-Term Care, and Disability. These new solutions allow advisors to easily illustrate complex solutions with the click of a single button, so they can help their clients make informed financial decisions and retire with confidence. 

The new tools include: Voyant Longevity Risk, an advanced modeling tool that allows advisors to demonstrate the financial and psychological benefits of secure income. With this simulation, Voyant can model complex variable annuities including guarantee minimum benefits and show the impact of these products in context to the client’s goals and objectives. For enterprise, Longevity Risk is configurable to allow annuity companies to model specific annuity products within the Voyant platform including all of the product’s features.  

Voyant Long-Term Care, the astronomical costs of long-term care are more than just a hot issue in today’s news. They can be an unforeseen destroyer of wealth and dramatically impact the financial well-being of surviving family members. Voyant’s Long-Term Care gives advisors the powerful ability to illustrate the financial impact of a loved one needing long term care. This includes the ability to afford the care itself, as well as the lasting financial effects. Combined with Voyant’s ability to model any “what if” scenario, advisers are able to easily show the benefit a Long-Term Care policy might have on affording proper care. 

Wahed 

Wahed, a global Shariah compliant FinTech, announced the appointment of Mohsin Siddiqui as Chief Executive Officer. 

Mohsin joined Wahed in 2023, serving as Chief Operating Officer. Prior to this, Mohsin was with UK–based RegTech ComplyAdvantage serving as its Chief Revenue Officer, tasked with leading its revenue growth objectives after its Series-C round of funding. Mohsin started his career at OANDA, a New York–based online trading fintech, where he served as the Chief Customer Officer and Managing Director. At OANDA, Mohsin grew OANDA’s core presence in the U.S and Canadian markets and spearheaded its expansion into several APAC markets. 

In a public letter to all stakeholders, Junaid, in his new role as Chairman said: ‘More important than his decorated CV, Mohsin has a deep and personal connection with our mission and values and a clear understanding of why over 350,000 clients choose to invest with Wahed. In less than a year as COO, he has made an immediate impact on the business and I have complete confidence that he is the right person to continue to drive Waheds growth.