Advisor Tech Talk (Week of 6/11/24)

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Fifteen years ago an Old El Paso commercial about whether a family should eat hard or soft tacos became a lasting internet meme—and a perfect descriptor for consumers’ views on wealth management technology. 

In said commercial, a kindergarten-aged girl settles her family’s debate over hard verus soft tacos with a simple, five-word question, “Why don’t we have both?” Which is then followed by a shot of her family cheering. 

The firm that figures out that today’s consumers want both human and technologically driven financial advice could enjoy similar cheering, according to a new study from State Street Global Advisors. In its 2024 Influential Investor Segment Study, State Street found that advisors across generations want both technological tools and, when needed, human-delivered advice, not either/or solutions. 

While investors want collaborative relationships with advisors, they also want the technology to manage their finances themselves without direct assistance and the competitive fees and lower costs that are often associated with self-directed investing. 

These demands are driving the growth of a segment of consumer State Street brands the “hybrid investor” one that wants both human advice and self-directed investing. Hybrid investors are already prevalent today, representing a growing cohort of investors that both retain a financial advisor and own at least one self-directed investing account. 

Millennials and Generation X investors, both solidly in middle age and starting approach retirement, have traditionally been served by technology and direct investing services, shunning advisors because of “perceived lack of value for the fees,” according to State Street. 

Today, 71% of affluent investors prefer to engage with wealth managers via digital channels, according to State Street. These “younger, digital-first investors are putting tremendous pressure on human-only service models.” 

Understanding the technological demands of today’s emerging investors can help advisors build more sustainable practices, State Street said. 

Advisors have to be ready to serve those investors both hard-shell tacos (traditional, human advice) and soft-shell ones (digital-first advice) as well—or clients will find somewhere else where they can “have both.” 

Let’s get to some headlines… 


Advisor360 

Advisor360°, a provider of integrated software for enterprise wealth management firms, announced that Abbe Gálvez Cordón has joined as Senior Vice President of Strategy & Corporate Development. In this newly created role, Gálvez Cordón will lead the company’s development and growth activities, reporting directly to Advisor360°’s Chief Executive Officer, Mike Fanning. 

Gálvez Cordón brings extensive experience in wealth management and technology, most recently serving as Managing Director, Head of Wealth & WealthTech Investment Banking at Bank of America. There, she was responsible for building the bank’s WealthTech practice from the ground up, working directly with scores of companies across these sectors. 

During her 16 years at Bank of America and Merrill Lynch, Gálvez Cordón held key leadership roles across the organization, including serving as a Managing Director in Corporate Strategy, where she helped write the bank’s first strategic plan and institutionalize the strategic planning process. As Chief Operating Officer of U.S. Trust (now Bank of America Private Bank) she led the organization’s growth strategy and technology investments. Throughout her career, Gálvez Cordón has advised on over $35 billion in transactions and raised over $40 billion in capital. 

Advyzon 

Advyzon Investment Management (AIM), a turnkey asset management program (TAMP) under the umbrella of comprehensive technology platform Advyzon, announced the hiring of Scott Smith as Chief Revenue Officer (CRO). 

An accomplished executive in the financial services industry – having previously worked at Goldman Sachs, BNY Mellon | Pershing, Envestnet, Fidelity, Schwab Advisor Services, and TD Ameritrade Institutional – Smith brings his 20+ years of industry experience to the rapidly growing TAMP and will oversee sales, marketing, pricing, and revenue management, focusing on continued growth and success. 

Scott Smith joins AIM after previously serving as Head of Central Division RIA Custody Sales at Goldman Sachs for the past three years. Prior to his role at Goldman Sachs, he served as Vice President of Business Development at BNY Mellon | Pershing for three and a half years, as well as Vice President and Regional Director at Envestnet for three years. 

Allspring Global Investments 

Allspring Global Investments announced several enhancements to its custom SMA platform, Remi. Advisors and their clients can now access the firm’s actively managed core-plus fixed income strategy, named CoreBuilder Core Plus, in an SMA wrapper through Remi. In the direct indexing space, Allspring also announced the addition of an international EAFE index to its platform and now has the ability to blend equity indexes. Through these enhancements, clients gain additional flexibility across Allspring’s active and passive, equity, and fixed income SMAs in one platform via Remi. 

Advisor adoption of Remi and Allspring’s suite of customized SMA products continues to build momentum with assets surpassing $3.1 billion as of the end of the first quarter spurred by net inflows of $245 million. Remi is available at the largest RIA custodians and TAMPs and is on three of four wire houses with the fourth currently onboarding. Further, in the first quarter of 2024, Allspring saw a 146% increase in Remi users versus the same period a year prior. 
 
Allspring’s overall scale within SMAs is significant, with more than $66 billion in assets, making the firm the 11th-largest SMA provider in the United States. 

Alltius 

Alltius, an innovative Gen AI assistant platform, announced that one of India’s leading retail full-service broking houses, used Alltius’ customer support AI assistants to enhance customer experiences. With Alltius, the leading financial services company has experienced reduction in support costs by $120,000 per month and over 45% ticket deflection within one month of implementation. 

The company is India’s leading digital-first brokerage firm with 20Mn+ active users and over $400B daily turnover. Their customer support team handled over 30k+ queries on a daily basis which led to higher turnaround time. 

Alltius’ self service AI assistant has enabled the company to reduce their query user resolution time from hours to seconds. The AI assistant handles over 250k+ conversations every week and solves customer queries with over 99% accuracy by identifying intent and answering the query by using the knowledge base of 20k+ company documents, previous tickets, FAQ sections and more. Apart from solving customer queries, Alltius also streamlined knowledge curation, where it converted unique ticket conversations into structured FAQ sections in real-time. 

BNY Mellon Pershing | Pershing X Wove

The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation (“BNY Mellon”) (NYSE: BK), the global financial services company, announced new enhancements to Pershing X’s Wove platform, which is designed to help registered investment advisors, broker-dealers and wealth management firms connect an investor’s full financial picture in one place. 

The new Wove offerings include: Wove Investor, a one-stop client portal that enables investors to view account info across multiple custodians, and use self-service features to quickly complete simple tasks on their own, such as check balances across all investment accounts, on a single interface. Added capabilities are slated to roll out later this year, including the ability to transfer money and make deposits, as well as collaborate with advisors through screenshare and co-browsing features. 

Wove Data, a cloud-data platform designed for C-Suite financial professionals at wealth management firms to manage large, multi-custody data sets and gain deeper insights into how their advisor teams, operations and investment products are performing across their enterprises. Portfolio Solutions, a set of new time-saving enhancements to the platform that will help advisors toggle more efficiently and quickly from researching investment products to aligning them to a client’s risk objectives and adding them to a portfolio 

BNY Mellon Pershing | Bundled Offering 

The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation (“BNY Mellon”) (NYSE:BK), the global financial services company, announced at its INSITE conference a bundled offering delivered through Pershing that enables financial advisors to access the full breadth of capabilities from across BNY Mellon’s leading platforms, including BNY Mellon Investment Management and BNY Mellon Advisors. 

As investors’ financial needs continue to become more complex, they are increasingly looking to their financial advisors for help across their investment needs. By bundling these services, BNY Mellon is providing advisors with a holistic, simplified offering, allowing them to focus more of their time on their clients. 

Backed by 240 years of experience across the financial lifecycle, BNY Mellon is bringing together the firm’s managed accounts platform, asset allocation and manager selection, investment management products, customized tax solutions, the interoperable Pershing X’s2 Wove platform for advisors, and custody and clearing services from BNY Mellon’s Pershing into a comprehensive, unified package for clients. 

BNY Mellon Pershing | Tax Solutions

The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation (“BNY Mellon”) (NYSE: BK), the global financial services company, announced the launch of customized tax solutions and the expansion of its direct indexing suite, BNY Mellon Precision Direct Indexing. This evolution will allow advisors to select a strategy that best aligns with their clients’ investment goals and objectives. Managed by Mellon, a global leader in index management with over 40 years of institutional expertise, tax transition management and tax overlay management will also be offered alongside the expanded direct indexing suite. 

With the addition of customized tax solutions, advisors will have the ability to migrate a portfolio from one exposure to another through tax transition management, which considers time horizon, tax budget, desired tracking error and composite assets. Additionally, ongoing tax overlay management can be applied around a customized set of assets, including models and customized portfolios. 

In addition to BNY Mellon Precision Direct Indexing S&P 500, advisors will also be able to access another five strategies within the direct indexing suite. 

Broadridge Financial Solutions 

Broadridge Financial Solutions announced that Edmund Reese, Chief Financial Officer, will be stepping down from his role, effective June 30, 2024, to become Chief Financial Officer of Aon, a $61 billion market capitalization global professional services firm. 

Ashima Ghei, who is currently the Chief Financial Officer of Broadridge’s $4.5 billion revenue Investor Communication Solutions segment, will serve as Interim Chief Financial Officer. Broadridge has initiated a search process for a permanent successor that will include both internal and external candidates. 

Mr. Reese has served as Broadridge’s CFO since 2020, playing a key role in driving Broadridge’s strong financial performance. During his tenure, Broadridge’s market capitalization grew 38% to $24 billion while annualized recurring revenue and Adjusted EPS grew 11% and 12%, respectively, from fiscal year 2020 to fiscal year 2023. 

Envestnet 

Envestnet is deepening relationships with BlackRock, Fidelity Investments, Franklin Templeton, and State Street Global Advisors. Envestnet is planning on working with these firms, some of the largest asset managers in the world, to build investment strategies that are custom-tailored and can be used by advisors to help meet the specific financial goals, risk tolerance, and personal circumstances of individual investors; and deliver this at scale to the more than 109,000 advisors on its platform. 

The planned offering speaks to an emerging convergence point where personalization, integrated technology and solutions meet as an opportunity to invest in the trends that are shaping the future of the wealth management industry.   

Envestnet sits at the center of this opportunity enabling 109,000 financial advisors to better meet client financial goals with one of the most comprehensive, integrated platforms and scale delivered in a unified, engaging digital experience. As part of these deepening relationships with Envestnet, the partners will commit to senior management planning as well as focused sales efforts. The relationships will guide the Envestnet platform roadmap in continuing to enhance the ability to deliver personalization and enhanced UMA capabilities that can help advisors to deliver value-added solutions to their clients. 

First Rate 

First Rate, providing AI reporting and compliance services for the wealth management industry, announced its investment and strategic partnership with Fispoke, an innovative WealthTech company led by experts from wealth management, banking, and technology. First Rate Ventures, the WealthTech corporate venture capital fund, provided guidance and is the lead investor in this initial funding round. 

Fispoke, led by entrepreneur and CEO Robert Clare, delivers a transformational platform seamlessly integrating private lending and banking solutions, tailored for the advisory market, into the everyday platforms used by financial advisors and their clients. 

Franklin Templeton

Franklin Templeton announced that users on the Benji Investments platform can convert USDC stablecoin to U.S. dollars (“USD”) to fund their investment in shares of the Franklin OnChain U.S. Government Money Fund (FOBXX) (the “Fund”). One share of the Fund is represented by one “BENJI token.” 

USDC to USD conversion services are provided by Zero Hash, a crypto and stablecoin infrastructure platform that supports over 60 digital assets across a multitude of blockchains. Zero Hash conversion services allow investors to convert USDC to USD, which in turn is transferred to their Franklin Templeton account and used to seamlessly purchase BENJI tokens. Investors in the Fund may also use Zero Hash services to convert USD proceeds from the sale of BENJI tokens to USDC. 

The feature will be immediately available to certain institutional wallets on the Benji Investments platform and shareholders of the Fund may initiate conversions at any time. USDC conversion services for individual investors using the Benji Investments mobile app may be enabled in the future. 

Greenlight 

U.S. Bank announced a partnership with Greenlight® Financial Technology, Inc. (“Greenlight”), the leading family fintech company on a mission to help parents raise financially-smart kids, to provide an innovative banking solution for families. 

Eligible U.S. Bank clients will now have complimentary access to Greenlight’s award-winning debit card and money app, helping more families teach their kids and teens critical financial skills. U.S. Bank is the first financial institution to offer Greenlight through an embedded mobile app experience, leveraging Greenlight’s new software development kit. 

Already trusted by more than 6 million parents and kids, Greenlight provides kids and teens with invaluable money management experience while parents enjoy time-saving convenience and peace of mind. With Greenlight, younger U.S. Bank family members can put money skills into practice as they learn to earn, save, and spend wisely — all with parental supervision. 

iCapital 

iCapital announced that iCapital Network Canada Ltd. (“iCapital Canada”), a Canadian investment fund manager and affiliate of iCapital group has been appointed Investment Fund Manager in Canada for Prime Quadrant Alternative Investment Access Funds, where iCapital will provide all administrative functions associated with managing these funds. Prime Quadrant is a leading trusted advisor and consulting firm for ultra-high-net-worth families in both Canada and the US. 

This partnership, in addition to iCapital Canada’s 40+ Canadian funds and a previously announced partnership with Sterling Global, firmly positions iCapital Canada as a trusted technology partner to deliver a comprehensive digital investing experience for Canada’s leading wealth advisors and asset managers. 

This is the first time iCapital has established a strategic partnership with a family office advisory firm to manage the administration of an existing platform. This partnership represents the type of opportunities iCapital can provide for firms in the independent wealth space to more efficiently scale their alternative investing businesses. These strategic partnerships are a natural evolution and extension to the transactions iCapital, as a leader in alternative investment technology, has done with many of the leading global bank platforms. 

Lucinity 

A groundbreaking generative AI copilot plugin, launched by Lucinity at Money2020 Europe, delivers immediate ROI. The copilot plugin is system-agnostic, acting as one central copilot that can be used on top of all web-based enterprise applications, pulling data from any system including Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, case management systems, third-party vendors, and Excel documents. 

The new plugin enhances Lucinity’s AI copilot, ‘Luci,’ launched last year as the world’s first AI copilot for financial crime prevention. This new plugin functionality now means that Luci is the easiest copilot to integrate into any financial institution (FI), boosting productivity by up to 90% and resulting in substantial cost savings. 

It also means that businesses can keep the same licenses and contracts they already have with their current providers, while augmenting their insights and accelerating decision making. FIs can now start using GenAI without the constraints, enormous costs, and lengthy timelines of traditional implementations. 

Luma Financial Technologies 

LIBRA Insurance Partners announced a partnership with Luma Financial Technologies (“Luma”). Luma’s award-winning technology provides cutting-edge annuity solutions, and this collaboration equips LIBRA’s partner firms with the tools needed to meet the increasing demand for modern annuity offerings.  

Luma’s annuity platform, known for its end-to-end annuity solutions capabilities, will be accessible to LIBRA’s partner firms beginning June 12, 2024. This partnership democratizes advanced technology traditionally reserved for the largest brokerage houses, further expanding Luma’s reach within independent insurance distribution networks. 

LIBRA’s partner firms will benefit from Luma’s industry-leading tools that include product-centric learning features, a comprehensive annuity product marketplace, product comparison functionality, predictive analytics and carrier illustrations, seamless order entry, and entire lifecycle management capabilities. This collaboration will drive best-in-class solutions to advisors and their clients, reinforcing LIBRA’s mission to bring innovation and value to its partners. 

Mercer Advisors 

Mercer Advisors, a national wealth management and financial planning business with $60 billion in client assets, announced the expansion of its private markets offering with the launch of the Aspen Partners platform. 

Aspen Partners is a proprietary private markets platform built by Mercer Advisors that represents a compelling shift in how individual investors access and invest in private markets, delivering institutional-grade access on institutional-grade terms. Through Aspen Partners, all qualified Mercer Advisors clients will be able to participate in a curated portfolio of high-quality private investments with lower portfolio-level costs, low minimums, and a substantially streamlined operational experience. 

The universe of privately held assets is significantly larger than public markets, and features many of the world’s fastest-growing companies, large swaths of the credit markets, and many other interesting opportunities. Yet, despite its sheer size and the recent proliferation of private funds, many investors and RIAs continue to find it difficult to confidently access high-quality private markets opportunities in a scalable, investor-friendly way. 

Ninth Wave 

Ninth Wave, an enabler of secure data connectivity between financial institutions and third-party applications, announced an expanded relationship with Axos Bank to deliver Open Finance solutions to Axos’ customers via Ninth Wave’s Platform. 

Axos Bank, which had previously engaged Ninth Wave for direct connectivity to enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, has extended their Open Finance journey with Ninth Wave, who will provide secure, reliable connections for Axos Bank connecting to leading aggregators. Additional aggregators and applications are expected to be added in the future. Ninth Wave will ensure operational efficiency and a robust approach to consumer data protection. 

Ninth Wave’s Platform delivers secure data connectivity to financial institutions through a single point of direct integration. Ninth Wave’s partnerships with leading aggregators to deliver direct, seamless API integration leads the industry with unparalleled connectivity and universal compatibility. With Ninth Wave’s configurable controls, visibility, and insights, Axos Bank will provide their customers with access and oversight into their connected applications, enabling secure data exchange that puts the customer in control of how their data is connected and shared with their own permissioned third-party applications. 

OneVest 

OneVest, a wealth management technology company, announced an exciting expansion to its Model Portfolio Marketplace, featuring the addition of Vanguard’s industry-leading suite of low-cost and high-quality ETFs. 

Backed by almost 50 years of experience as a global leader in portfolio construction and indexing, Vanguard’s suite of strategic ETF model portfolios will provide OneVest customers with a professionally managed, globally diversified, and potentially tax-efficient investing experience. 

OneVest’s Model Marketplace offers a seamless technology delivery along with a curated selection of institutionally managed investment solutions to financial institutions. 

Opto Investments 

Opto Investments (“Opto”), the technology-enabled solution expanding private markets access for independent investment advisors, announced a strategic partnership with Mercer Advisors, a national Registered Investment Adviser (RIA) with over $60 billion in client assets. Opto will equip the Mercer Advisors client-facing team with a modern, tech-driven solution to bring private markets investments into client portfolios at scale and in a cost-efficient manner. 

Mercer Advisors selected Opto as its private markets partner based on shared values of transparency, trust and alignment of interests. By partnering with Opto, Mercer Advisors, which provides wealth management services for mass affluent to ultra-high-net-worth (UHNW) families and a spectrum of institutional clients, will further enhance its comprehensive offering to clients. 

For decades, Mercer Advisors has been sourcing high-quality private markets investments to help increase diversification and improve outcomes for UHNW and HNW families. Opto’s user-friendly platform will simplify workflows and operations, saving time and creating better client experiences, helping Mercer Advisors deliver curated and customized investment opportunities across infrastructure, private credit, private equity, real estate and venture capital. Mercer Advisors will launch a customized set of multi-strategy funds for its Qualified Purchaser (QP) clients, and the firm intends to launch several custom funds each year using Opto’s proprietary platform. 

SMArtX Advisory Solutions 

SMArtX Advisory Solutions (“SMArtX”), a leading innovator in unified managed accounts (UMA) technology, announced it has added 29 strategies offered by seven leading asset management firms to its rapidly expanding platform. The firm’s cutting-edge platform now offers 1,475 strategies from over 300 distinguished asset management firms. 

Newcomers Mondrian Investment Partners Limited and Sound Income Strategies now offer equity and fixed income strategies. Meanwhile, existing partners Allspring Global Investments, BlackRock, OneAscent Investment Solutions, Russell Investment Management, and WisdomTree added strategies focusing on a range of themes including equity, allocation, fixed income, and indexing. 

Snappy Kraken 

Snappy Kraken, the martech innovator powering simpler, smarter advisor marketing, announced the launch of its groundbreaking new marketing intelligence tool: the Marketing Hub. This essential addition to the advisor’s marketing toolkit reduces complexity by integrating content, communication and contact activity into one intuitive interface. Further, it surfaces advisors’ best opportunities to build relationships, book appointments and win new referrals, leading to better results. 

The Marketing Hub is the only solution in the marketplace that shows advisors exactly what to do to build stronger client relationships and drive maximum value.  

The Marketing Hub is included as part of every product subscription offered by Snappy Kraken, ensuring that every financial advisor, regardless of their financial commitment, can unlock meaningful growth opportunities. This reinforces Snappy Kraken’s commitment to delivering consistency and value across its array of products. 

TIFIN 

TIFIN, an early mover and leading innovator in AI-powered fintech, announced the appointment of Ken Denman to its Board of Directors. Mr. Denman is a seasoned entrepreneur, investor, executive, and board member with a track record in building, scaling, and exiting technology companies. He will bring this deep domain expertise to TIFIN’s board as the company continues to revolutionize the wealth management industry through artificial intelligence. 

Mr. Denman’s wealth of experience and forward-thinking perspective complement the expertise of the current TIFIN board members. The TIFIN board currently includes Dr. Vinay Nair, Founder & CEO of TIFIN; Rob Heyvaert, Founder & Managing Partner of Motive Partners’ Tom Tinsley, Former Managing Director, General Atlantic and former CEO of Baan Software N.V.; Cathie Wood, CEO and CIO of ARK Invest; Glenn Hubbard, Director of the Chazen Institute, Dean Emeritus, and Professor of Finance and Economics at Columbia Business School’ and Anil Arora, Senior Partner at TIFIN and former CEO of Envestnet | Yodlee. 

Mr. Denman has extensive experience as an investor, chief executive, and strategic advisor across the technology, telecommunications, and finance industries. Currently, he serves as a General Partner at Sway Ventures, a U.S.-based venture capital firm investing in early- to mid-stage technology companies. In addition to Sway and TIFIN, he holds positions on several prominent boards, including Costco Wholesale and Motorola Solutions. Previously, Mr. Denman was President and CEO of Emotient, a leading authority on automated facial expression analysis, which was acquired by Apple in 2016. He also held other CEO roles at Openwave Systems and iPass Inc. His expertise in driving organizational growth and innovation is complemented by his active involvement as an investor and mentor to start-ups. 

Voya Financial 

Voya Financial announced the launch of Primary Plus, an expanded lineup of non-core investment solutions within its Advisor Managed Account (AMA) program. The new solution allows third-party Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) firms that offer a managed account program through Voya the opportunity to introduce investment options outside of a plan’s core investment lineup. 

Built to address an increasing interest from advisors, Voya’s Primary Plus solution provides funds not specified in a plan’s core investment lineup as an opportunity to increase a participant’s investment exposure to an asset class. These funds can include solutions such as collective investment trusts or mutual funds. The solution also enables RIA firms to build a more comprehensive managed account program with Voya, providing participants who enroll in the managed account program with a customized and diverse allocation designed to help them reach their retirement goals. 

Voya’s Advisor Managed Accounts program provides RIAs the resources they need to distribute investment advice to retirement plan participants through a consistent and scalable user experience. Leveraging a seamless and integrated platform, the AMA program at Voya helps to ease the implementation and monitoring for an RIA firm and ensures advisors have access to a network of recordkeepers. Since the introduction of the program in 2021, the AMA program at Voya now supports over 400 plans that leverage the service. 

Wealthbox 

Wealthbox, the highest-rated CRM software for financial advisors, announced a new firmwide CRM agreement with Seasons of Advice Wealth Management, a prominent New York advisory firm. 

Seasons of Advice Wealth Management’s decision to implement Wealthbox CRM underscores its commitment to equipping its advisors with top-tier, modern technology. Wealthbox has recently secured partnerships with several major advisory firms, positioning the platform for substantial growth, driven by the continuous introduction of new features and strategic relationships. 

YourStake 

YourStake, a provider of AI-powered solutions for the wealth management industry, announced a collaboration with Apex Fintech Solutions Inc. (“Apex”), the innovation platform to the global investment ecosystem, to provide APIs for the next generation of AI-first digital experiences. This will enable fintechs and advisors to deliver seamless solutions without the complexity of building them in-house. 

YourStake’s “Document-to-Portfolio” APIs are the first suite of offerings in this collaboration. These allow users to upload image scans or PDF files of their investment information, such as account statements from brokerages and banks, and for fintechs and advisors to receive structured API responses containing clean, accurate data about the financial holdings. 

This simplification enables a new level of frictionless investing across two key use cases for digital experiences: real-time portfolio analysis for investment proposals, annd hands-free onboarding account transitions.