FINTECH NEWS: The Tech Integration Evolution in Wealth Management

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As industry watchers have focused on the headline-inducing developments in wealth management – consolidation, private equity, breakaway advisors, the cost of capital – a less-followed trend has emerged that is resonating across the third-party fintech solutions provider sector: Cost-conscious wealth management enterprises are increasingly recognizing, and capturing, the cost efficiencies, scalability, flexibility and expertise that comes with outsourcing their technology needs. The result? In-house, proprietary tech stacks are in decline as firms choose to rely on third-party providers to meet their tech requirements.

While this shift is good for these fintech providers and their bottom lines, it also redefines their value propositions. Gone are the days when a third-party solutions provider only had to worry about integrating with its client’s legacy tech stack. Now these platforms have a new strategic imperative: ensuring their product integrates with their customer’s other third-party vendors. How are leading fintech providers remaining relevant and competitive in such an ecosystem? How can they ensure their solutions can be readily integrated with other third-party tools and platforms? Do third-party fintech providers have an integration problem, or is it an integration opportunity?

Digital Wealth News sought the informed insights of three fintech executives to discuss this transformation and to share insights on how their firms are meeting this challenge while taking advantage of the opportunities.

  • Sindhu Joseph, CEO and Co-Founder, CogniCor, a leading provider of artificial intelligence (AI) enabled digital assistants and business automation platforms for the financial services industry
  • Paul DeMaio, CEO and Managing Partner, AdvizorStack, LLC, a fintech technology platform offering Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs) turnkey access to a curated assortment of third-party solutions providers
  • Ryan George, CMO, Docupace Technologies, a digital back-office workflow and automations provider for the wealth management industry

Sindhu Joseph, CEO and Co-Founder at CogniCor: AI-enabled solutions promising efficiency are only successful if the provider takes an advisor-centric approach to integrating with other providers. Understanding how an advisor uses their technology and their primary access point is critical – most often, that is the firm’s CRM. At CogniCor, we developed our Wealth Co-Pilot to work seamlessly with leading CRMs and layer AI assistance on top of that infrastructure. But AI is only as good as the data it can use.

We have worked to allow the same access point – the CRM – to be the entry for other critical data sources to inform our assistant’s ability to do more than just drive efficiency. By bringing in data from different sources – portfolio management programs, meeting recordings, family information and more – we have enhanced the value of the available data and deliver insights that can help an advisor provide personalized service at scale – which is the ultimate goal of advanced wealthtech solutions.

Paul DeMaio, CEO and Managing Partner at AdvizorStack: An advisor wants to break away from a large broker-dealer but doesn’t know where to start or how to even begin to build out their tech stack. They can hire a technology consultant, who will come in and charge them a handsome fee and tell them where to find their CRM, billing and reporting, risk analytics and financial planning software; but often that is where they stop, leaving the advisor on their own to put together four to six different contracts with companies that don’t “talk ” to one another. It can be a complete mess because no one at the advisor’s firm knows how to operate any of these platforms or complete any of the integrations.

The AdvizorStack experience is the complete opposite. We not only help you decide which platforms are best for your firm, we also have the institutional contracts already completed. We then handle all the integrations into the Salesforce CRM and provide you with a single sign-on for all of these vendors. We also complete all the data integrations and make the transition as seamless as possible. And we don’t end there. AdvizorStack becomes our clients’ one point of contact for any platform service issues, with a dedicated representative always ready to tackle any problems. Advisors who need to build a tech stack from square one especially need this kind of support. We consider ourselves a true outsourced chief technology officer that can address this need.

Ryan George, CMO at Docupace: Wealthtech is the perfect example of “paradox of choice” – the psychological concept where too many appealing options can actually lead to negative outcomes, decision fatigue, dissatisfaction and even stress.

You can’t eat the whole elephant at once; the key is to make the challenge smaller.

Start with the “core four” that address critical RIA functions: CRM, financial planning, portfolio trading/administration and custodian. For most firms, this will get you 60-70% of the way there.

For the rest, focus on tech that plays nicely together in terms of integration and data transfer. Roughly half of the technologies financial advisors choose are considered single “point solutions,” and poor-quality integrations (or lack thereof) with other core platforms are a top pain point for financial advisors.

The Ezra Group has created a useful resource that tracks and rates the integration capabilities of nearly 500 advisor tech platforms. The median score is 4.49 out of 10, which illustrates the industry still has real work to do.

We’ve targeted PreciseFP directly to solve this universal disappointment. Since it’s a digital client data-gathering platform, connecting with other platforms like Wealthbox and Redtail or eMoney and RightCapital is essential. The network of 30+ integrations (8.54 integration score) makes it super simple for advisors to capture critical data and documents from clients/prospects and then send it wherever it needs to go next.

Lastly, don’t be too hard on yourself (or the internal champion) if a technology choice doesn’t deliver the optimal ROI. Focus that energy on pivoting to a better decision as fast as you can.