Advisor Tech Talk (Week of 4/15/24)

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Out of the very extensive list of headlines in this week’s roundup of advisor tech news, one item stands out as not really being 100% about wealth management or financial advisors—but we believe it’s important for advisors to take notice nonetheless. 

The announcement that Erica, Bank of America’s virtual assistant, has now recorded more than 2 billion customer interactions might seem a little out of place, even though the bank’s announcement mentions that Erica is also used by its wirehouse wealth manager Merrill Lynch—but we think the milestone uncovers an important truth about how the public’s relationship with money has been changed by technology. 

We still hear many arguments against automation and technology-powered consumer-facing solutions in finance, and in wealth management in particular. It’s still broadly assumed that people will not want digital interactions when learning, talking about or doing things with money. Perhaps this belief stems from decades of experience with hamfisted, menu-oriented automated telephone systems. Older generations have often had no choice but to endure these systems when working with government agencies, banks, insurance providers, healthcare providers and other major institutions.  

The old automated systems were convoluted and impersonal and widely hated. No wonder they left such a bad taste in people’s mouths. That they also potentially threatened to take jobs out of peoples’ hands was a secondary complaint—telephone menus were a drastic step down in the customer experience. 

Virtual assistants, like Erica, are not so dramatic a step down for consumers, however. In fact, some consumers actually like these platforms. They’re helping major financial enterprises run streamlined operations and manage costs—and they’re clearly being used and consumers are becoming accustomed to them. 

As today’s consumers continue to adjust to—and even embrace—automation in greater numbers, it feels like a mistake to assume that they won’t want to do so when it comes to their wealth management needs. The future of wealth management likely lies in technology doing more for more people, with less manpower and at drastically lower cost than today. 

Today, in addition to Bank of America, we have announcements from Pontera, Envestnet, Surge Ventures and Apex. 

Let’s get to it…  


Accenture 

BNY Mellon is collaborating with Accenture to modernize financial services offerings with an initial focus on data management and analytics product development and delivery. The companies will use leading technologies to unleash the power of data at new speed to help their joint clients drive accelerated growth. 

Combining Accenture’s data, AI, and platform engineering expertise with BNY Mellon’s comprehensive financial data and analytics services will help accelerate the introduction of new services across private markets and wealth management technology, as well as support expansion into new markets. With the expertise and platforms to help clients achieve their goals, BNY Mellon will also work with Accenture to create exceptional client experiences. The two companies plan to further collaborate on bringing the newly developed services to market in the future to transform the financial services industry. 

Altruist 

Altruist introduced an updated fee schedule, a direct result of the feedback received from its advisor community. The new fee schedule reflects simple, transparent, industry leading pricing, aimed to objectively improve client outcomes and make independent financial advice more accessible. 

To reduce overall costs and complexity, Altruist eliminated or zeroed out over 50 line items from the previous schedule. Of the fees that remain, the pricing is at or lower than legacy custodians, with no hidden fees or preferential treatment on proprietary products. The new fee schedule is available in an intuitive brochure that any advisor or client can easily understand. 

The new fee schedule was announced on Friday, April 12 and will go into effect on Monday, July 1, 2024, the first implementation of the new 60 day notice period that Altruist is giving advisors on all future fee changes. 

Apex – Custodian News

Apex Fintech Solutions announced the completion of the first-ever account transfer leveraging the latest messaging protocols set by National Securities Clearing Corporation’s (NSCC’s) Automated Customer Account Transfer Service (ACATS). The account transfer was achieved through Apex’s API-based Account Transfer Service. This significant development enhances information exchange between broker-dealers. 

In October 2025, NSCC plans to decommission ACATS’ legacy messaging. To support this, Apex’s Account Transfer Service is built for scale to assist financial intermediaries and NSCC members during this transition by offering a wide range of benefits, including real-time testing capabilities, leading to shorter testing cycles. 

Apex is the custodian for over 21 million investors for over 200 clients enabling hundreds of thousands of account transfers per year. In support of Apex’s commitment to modernizing the account transfer process for its clients and the industry ahead of the new protocols, the institutional-grade account transfer service is now available publicly. Apex is dedicated to making investing frictionless for financial services by providing innovative technologies to clients and staying ahead of the curve with ACATS Apex services. 

Apex – Appointment 

Apex Fintech Solutions also announced the appointment of Charles “Chip” Roame, Founder & Managing Partner of Tiburon Strategic Advisors and the Tiburon CEO Summits, to its Board of Directors. With Chip’s appointment, Apex Fintech Solutions is poised to strengthen its position as a leading technology provider empowering growth-oriented advisors. 

With a distinguished career spanning decades in strategic advisory roles, Chip brings a wealth of experience and insight to the Apex Fintech Solutions board. As the Founder & Managing Partner of Tiburon Strategic Advisors and the Tiburon CEO Summits, he has primarily served in advisory capacities, providing strategic guidance to over 600 wealth and investment management firms, CEOs, senior executives, and boards of directors. Chip’s extensive portfolio includes advising numerous firms through transformative ventures, facilitating strategic partnerships, overseeing capital raises, and navigating complex transitions. 

Apex Fintech Solutions continues to make waves with its groundbreaking advisory solutions, including its recently launched platforms Apex Astra, a modern, operationally efficient UI and Apex Onboarding Edge, an end-to-end digital tool that enables advisors to validate, open, and fund new accounts in seconds instead of weeks. Additionally, Apex recently acquired AdvisorArch, a portfolio management company and modern rebalancer, to further strengthen its RIA Custody & Execution Platform. 

Arch 

Arch, a digital admin platform modernizing private investment operations and investor communications celebrated Tax Day with the addition of several new innovative tools to its platform. Aimed at streamlining the user experience, these new functionalities will provide financial advisors, private investment firms, accountants and individual allocators with a smart workflow solution that offers unique insights into individual investments and broader portfolios. In addition to enhanced insights, these tools reduce time spent on the cumbersome administrative responsibilities typically associated with private markets investing. 

As the momentum for private markets continues, the digital infrastructure needed to support this influx in volume must evolve. To meet growing demand, Arch continually gathers detailed client feedback with a focus on delivering more automation and insights across client portfolios. 

Additionally, Arch’s clients can expect a new look from the firm’s most heavily used resource, the Arch Digest, an email summary of all capital calls needing completion, K-1 arrivals, and all other documentation received by Arch. Delivering on its mission to empower tech-enabled private markets investing, all of these new features come after the firm’s most recent set of enhancements, including the enriched layer of data provided by Direct Company Insights and the centralized, collaborative Statement Tracker dashboard. 

Bank of America 

More than 2 billion since 2018. That’s how many interactions Bank of America clients have had with Erica, a virtual financial assistant, since it launched. It took four years to reach 1 billion interactions, since which client engagement has surged, reaching a second billion just 18 months later. 

Over the last six years, Erica’s capabilities have expanded to support individual and corporate clients across the enterprise, including within Merrill, Benefits OnLine, and the award-winning CashPro platform. 

To date, Erica has responded to 800 million inquiries from over 42 million clients and provided personalized insights and guidance over 1.2 billion times.   

CAIS 

CAIS announced that Baird, an international wealth management, asset management, investment banking/capital markets, and private equity firm that manages and oversees more than $430 billion in assets, has expanded their relationship with CAIS to consolidate all their alternative investment products, processes, and data management onto a single platform. 

Building on a long track record of success together, Baird’s 1,300+ advisors will now have centralized access to expanded support for structured investments and centralized access to additional Baird alternatives sourced and approved by Baird via CAIS’ SaaS technology, CAIS Solutions. CAIS Solutions streamlines the operational infrastructure associated with investing in alternatives by enabling advisors to centralize their funds – no matter where they are sourced – through automated processes, comprehensive reporting, and end-to-end data integrations. 

The announcement comes on the heels of burgeoning demand for CAIS’ SaaS technology, as advisors seek out a single technology stack and end-to-end alternatives solution to meet client demand. In only six months following its official launch, CAIS Solutions has been made available to independent financial advisors who collectively oversee approximately $1T in assets. 

CapIntel 

CapIntel announced a renewed five-year partnership with IG Wealth Management (IG). 

The existing relationship between IG and CapIntel served as a key driver for the renewal. Since 2021, over 3,000 IG professionals have used CapIntel in their day-to-day workflow, with a particular improvement in streamlining their compliance practices. With this renewal, IG and CapIntel can build upon their strong foundation and continue improving the advisor and client experience. 

Furthermore, the renewal agreement includes streamlined workflow integrations through Salesforce, enabling seamless data exchange and further optimizing advisor workflows. 

Charles River Development 

Charles River Development, a State Street Company, announced that T. Rowe Price will transition to Charles River’s cloud-based technology platform. T. Rowe Price will utilize the Charles River Investment Management Solution (IMS) for portfolio management, trading, and compliance and the State Street Alpha® Data Platform (ADP) for data management and services. 

Charles River delivers a future-ready platform with services to provide a foundation for business innovation and transformation. T. Rowe Price will benefit from the cloud-based platform, including the ability to leverage the latest products, functionality, and scalability. 

Envestnet 

Envestnet announced that Intech Investment Management LLC (Intech), a specialized global quantitative equity manager, will leverage its innovative suite of billing solutions, including Revenue Manager, which is a holistic and insightful revenue platform built for scalable performance and exclusively for asset managers. 

Intech, which invests on behalf of pension funds, governments, foundations and endowments, and other institutional investors, is utilizing Envestnet’s full end-to-end Revenue Manager solution for billing, accruals, payments, various automated feeds, and Envestnet’s data and analytics.  

Envestnet’s Revenue Manager is a comprehensive financial management software designed to streamline revenue processes for financial institutions and wealth management firms. It facilitates the efficient tracking, analysis, and management of revenue streams, enabling organizations to optimize productivity. 

FLX Networks 

FLX Networks announced a partnership with GK3 Capital, a trailblazer in digital marketing and sales for financial services. 

Leveraging their collective strengths and leading-edge technology, FLX and GK3 will provide an integrated solution to boost business development and client service through advanced digital strategies. 

FLX Networks expands the offerings on its comprehensive engagement platform with the addition of GK3’s hallmark Digital Distribution™ services. Digital Distribution™ empowers financial services firms to reach more potential clients, automate marketing, elevate sales, accelerate inflows, and enhance client retention in today’s digital-first era—at a lower cost. 

Hexure 

Hexure, a provider of sales and regulatory automation solutions for the life and annuity industry, announced a partnership with SuranceBay, an insurance technology provider of contracting and compliance software that automates various aspects of the producer-distributor-carrier relationship. This collaboration streamlines the can-sell verification process while also enhancing in-good-order (IGO) life and annuity business transactions through the integration of Hexure’s FireLight platform and SuranceBay’s SureLC solution. 

The FireLight and SureLC integration significantly reduces not-in-good-order (NIGO) submissions due to missing advisor requirements, such as licensing, carrier appointments or product training. This integration eliminates the need for navigating between systems to verify eligibility or to complete missing requirements before moving forward with the application submission, thus driving sales efficiency and better experiences for the client. 

Hexure clients who use SuranceBay can easily activate the SureLC integration by implementing a SuranceBay authentication token within the FireLight admin tool, quickly enabling can-sell checks for their advisors directly within FireLight. 

iCapital 

iCapital announced a partnership with Bain Capital Credit, L.P., a leading global credit specialist, to provide financial advisors and high-net-worth investors with access to a suite of Bain Capital Credit’s private credit strategies via iCapital’s technology platform. 

Through this partnership, advisors gain increased operational efficiency by accessing select Bain Capital Credit products via the customized Bain Capital-branded platform powered by iCapital and on iCapital Marketplace. As part of the agreement, iCapital provides a full suite of research, due diligence, and educational materials to advisors and investors to support the growing interest in alternative investing. 

Appetite for private credit opportunities amongst advisors and their high-net-worth clients is growing, given the enhanced income potential and diversification benefits. It provides exposure to alternative investments and can exhibit lower market volatility versus the public markets. 

IRALOGIX 

IRALOGIX announced that Dave Bernard stepped down as chief executive officer effective immediately. The board has appointed Peter de Silva as the new CEO of IRALOGIX. de Silva has been an IRALOGIX investor and board member for the past two years. 

de Silva assumes the reins at a critical juncture in IRALOGIX’s history as it continues to mature as a company. Last fall’s successful capital raise allows IRALOGIX to capture the significant growth opportunities ahead. de Silva has more than 35 years’ experience leading established companies in the financial services industry, including roles as president of TD Ameritrade’s retail business, president of Scottrade Financial Services, CEO of UMB Bank, and 17 years of experience at Fidelity Investments in various leadership roles. 

IRALOGIX enables institutional partners to rapidly launch profitable white-label IRA programs that leverage institutionally priced investments as well as professional advice and education. The company’s modular technologies are cloud-native and support a fully paperless process with no account minimums. 

Pontera 

Pontera announced the hiring of three leaders with nearly 70 years combined experience in the defined contribution (DC) plan industry. Jerry Bonnabeau joins Pontera as its Head of DC Partnerships, a new role, in which he will lead Todd Stablewski, Director, DC Partnerships, and Kevin Amoruso, Director, DC Strategic Relationships. 

Prior to joining Pontera, Bonnabeau was Chief Growth Officer at Atlas Point, a firm that uses behavioral science to help advisors with client conversations. He previously held leadership positions at Edelman Financial Engines for 16 years, as well as at Putnam Investments and RobustWealth. 

Stablewski joins Pontera from Voya Financial, where he was Vice President, Investment Product Partners. Before that, he served in similar roles at MassMutual Financial Group, Mercer, and Fidelity Investments over the course of 25 years. Amoruso spent nearly 14 years at Principal Financial Group, where he managed relationships with the DC divisions of the industry’s largest retirement plan advisors and broker dealers. 

Smarsh 

Smarsh added Sagnik Nandy and Tim Scheve to its board of directors, effective immediately. In addition, experienced technology CFO Lynn Danko has been appointed chair of the Smarsh audit committee and board member for Smarsh’s consolidated group. 

Smarsh helps global regulated organizations meet regulatory compliance obligations and manage risk with solutions for the capture, retention and oversight of digital communications. It recently bolstered its AI-powered platform with the acquisition of TeleMessage, the leading provider of mobile messaging and voice compliance. 

Danko has worked as a technology leader and CFO for over 25 years at publicly traded and private equity-owned companies, enjoying stints at various enterprise software firms ranging in size from $200 million to $1 billion in revenue. 

Surge Ventures 

Surge Ventures has strategically acquired Kovair Software (Kovair), launching an enterprise integration platform for the wealth management industry. This cutting-edge platform is designed to streamline data, applications and workflow management while offering a seamless, integration platform experience that is tailored to the unique needs of the financial services sector. 

In a significant leadership shift, Sid Yenamandra, Founder, CEO and Managing Partner of Surge Ventures, has been appointed CEO of Kovair, bringing a new vision for innovation and growth to the firm. Former CEO Bipin Shah will continue to offer his strategic insights to Kovair by remaining on the Board of Directors, ensuring the company’s enduring success and vision alignment. 

Headquartered in San Ramon, California, Kovair is a pioneer in software development and data integration solutions, known for platforms that boost organizational efficiency and productivity. Kovair’s Omnibus platform enables teams to expedite automation across multiple tools and remove information silos. Kovair’s Omnibus platform supports over 110 different integrations out-of-the-box with the ability to rapidly develop new integrations. Kovair’s Omnibus Integration platform was awarded the prestigious Gartner Cool Award for its performance, breadth of out-of-box and new data integrations as well as data security architecture. Moreover, Kovair counts large clients such as Worldbank Group, Intel, Applied Materials and the US Dept of Navy as customers. Kovair’s Omnibus platform will be at the heart of Surge Ventures’ new data integration platform push for wealth management firms. 

TIFIN 

TIFIN, a leading AI and innovation platform for wealth, announces the appointment of Rob Pettman as its Chief Revenue Officer and President. In his new role, Pettman will report directly to TIFIN’s Founder and CEO, Dr. Vinay Nair.

With a proven track record of leadership and success in the financial services sector,
Pettman brings a wealth of experience and expertise to TIFIN. He joins the company
from LPL Financial, where he was Executive Vice President of Wealth Management
Solutions. In this role, he was responsible for managing LPL’s wealth management
platform, including overseeing investment product distribution, advisory platforms,
research, retirement plan business, and relationships with product and technology
companies. Throughout his 19 years at LPL, Mr. Pettman worked in various roles
across product management and wealth management strategy.