FPPad Bits and Bytes for November 18, 2016

On today’s broadcast, Wells Fargo announces a partnership with SigFig, Cetera’s computers systems suffer a two-day outage, lessons from a hack at Lincoln Financial, and more.

So get ready, FPPad Bits and Bytes begins now!

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Here are the links to this week’s top stories:

Wells Fargo Goes Robo With SigFig Wealth Management from WSJ.com, and

Wells Fargo notice of an application for an exemption from certain requirements of rule 3a-7(a)(4)(i) under the Investment Company Act of 1940 from SEC.gov

[First up is news from Wells Fargo, as the bank, which finds itself in the middle of a very public firestorm over opening unauthorized accounts, announced this week that it is partnering with SigFig to release an automated investment service to customers of Wells Fargo Advisors sometime in the first half of 2017.

Other than the potential release date, there really wasn’t any concrete information on pricing or the types of investments to be used in the service. Will they be Wells Fargo mutual funds, or third-party ETFs? As of today, Wells Fargo doesn’t offer its own ETFs, but earlier this year, the company filed an exemptive relief request with the SEC, signaling some intent to enter the ETF space.

But that opens the door for potential problems with the Department of Labor fiduciary rule, highlighted by industry Nerd-In-Chief Michael Kitces, where automated investment services that recommend investments in proprietary products, Kitces calls out Schwab Intelligent Portfolios and BlackRock’s FutureAdvisor, do not qualify under the Level Fee Fiduciary exemption because of the variable compensation inherent in an allocation of proprietary ETFs!

So, this is all “industry” stuff, and not all that applicable to your business, but here’s my point. All the big banks, all the incumbent financial institutions are boarding the automated investment bandwagon. Sooner rather than later, your clients and prospects are going to get solicited by the very institutions they use today.

And clients are expecting an experience like Uber, but you’re still driving around a dirty taxi that has to be flagged down with a hand in the air that doesn’t have a functional credit card machine!] Wells Fargo & Co.’s brokerage arm is partnering with SigFig Wealth Management LLC to bring automated investment advice to clients, the latest example of how traditional wealth-management firms are working with startup robo advisers to offer new digital tools to investors.

Cetera Brokers Endure Two-Day Systemwide Crash from AdvisorHub

[Next up is news about Cetera Financial Group, as the independent broker dealer encountered a company-wide systems outage that affected 9,000 brokers as well as the company’s back-office and operations teams.

According to an AdvisorHub article, the outage started on Monday, and one broker with First Allied reported that he could not sign in to view emails, access performance reports, or even call Cetera using their standard phone number. Cell phone numbers were eventually sent out on Monday evening.

In a firm-wide conference call on Tuesday afternoon, Cetera Chief Executive Robert Moore apologized for the disruption and said systems had been fully restored, and added that no data had been compromised through hacking or any other unauthorized access.

So, let this be a reminder that if it’s been a while since you tested your business continuity plan, next week’s Thanksgiving break might be a good time to do so. It doesn’t matter if you manage your own systems or leverage the resources of a broker-dealer, you need to verify how you can perform the essential parts of your business in the event of a disruption.

Attackers are launching denial of service attacks every day against financial institutions, so it’s important that you know exactly what you need to do when the systems you depend aren’t available.] Just six months after emerging from bankruptcy, independent brokerage company Cetera Financial Group experienced a companywide systems outage Monday and Tuesday that walled off brokers at its seven operating broker-dealers from customer data, emails and other vital account management functions.

Lincoln Financial Unit Gets $650K Fine After Server Hack from Law360, and

LETTER OF ACCEPTANCE, WAIVER AND CONSENT NO. 2013035036601 at FINRA.org

[And speaking of attackers, my last story is about Lincoln Financial Securities, an affiliate of Lincoln Financial Group, as the company paid a $650,000 fine imposed by FINRA for failing to safeguard customer data stored on a cloud server used by one of its OSJs.

Sometime in 2012, hackers were able to access the could server configured by a third-party vendor and obtain records on approximately 5,400 customers. The FINRA Letter of Acceptance doesn’t say HOW the server was compromised, and didn’t identify what kind of server was in use. Was it an FTP server, a service like Dropbox, a proprietary server with remote access, or something else?

But more troubling to me is that FINRA goes on to say that the firm “failed to take adequate steps to monitor or audit the vendors’ performance.” Now hold on. One benefit of leveraging third-party vendors is that they bring expertise to the table that the firm doesn’t have, like, oh, I don’t know, cybersecurity expertise.

But for FINRA to say that the firm failed to test and verify the security of the cloud servers, that just doesn’t seem right. The firm doesn’t HAVE the expertise in cloud server security, which is why the firm hired the third-party vendor in the first place, but now FINRA says that the firm is the one that has to verify the security of the third-party vendor that it hired to bring security expertise to the firm? How is that even possible?

What I do know is FINRA just levied a heavy fine on a firm because their third-party vendor had a hole in their security that was exploited by hackers, and in my opinion, that’s a troubling precedent that has been set.] A Lincoln Financial Group subsidiary on Monday agreed to accept a $650,000 fine leveled by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and implement tighter security protocols after hackers in mid-2012 accessed its cloud server and lifted the confidential records of roughly 5,400 customers.

Here are the stories that didn’t make this week’s broadcast:

WisdomTree Makes Strategic Investment in AdvisorEngine from WisdomTree

WisdomTree Investments, Inc. announced that it has invested $20 million for a 36% equity interest in AdvisorEngine, formerly known as Vanare, an end-to-end digital wealth management platform which enables individual customization of investment philosophies.

PIEtech℠, Inc. Unveils Integration with MX for Aggregation and Personal Financial Management Functionality from PRWeb

PIEtech℠, Inc., the creator of the industry’s leading financial planning software, MoneyGuidePro®, today unveiled a new integration with MX to deepen the availability of aggregation for MoneyGuidePro® subscribers and add personal financial management (PFM) functionality via the client portal.

Combined Envestnet and Yodlee Data Offering Supports Morgan Stanley Wealth Management from PRNewswire.com

Envestnet | Yodlee and its parent company Envestnet, today announced a partnership for the combined organization, providing data aggregation, digital applications and data reconciliation solutions to Morgan Stanley, one of the largest, most established wealth management businesses in the industry.

 

Watch FPPad Bits and Bytes for November 18, 2016

Watch FPPad Bits and Bytes for November 18, 2016

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