Here is a great opportunity to get schooled in cybersecurity from the World’s Most Famous Hacker, Kevin Mitnick.
Envision Consulting, a Washington DC-based provider of IT services and support to financial advisory businesses, has hired me to be the master of ceremonies for a unique event to be held Wednesday October 19 in Tysons Corner, VA from 11am to 2pm.
The World’s Most Famous Hacker
Envision Consulting is brining Mitnick in to demonstrate his skills in front of our live audience and reveal just how vulnerable many of us are to sophisticated (and sometimes shockingly basic) phishing, spoofing, and social engineering attacks.
For more about Mitnick’s story and how he became known as The World’s Most Famous Hacker, watch the interview segment below with Stephen Colbert on the Cobert Report
See Kevin Mitnick for Free
So let’s get to the good stuff. You can enter to win a free ticket to this event, a $184.99 value, now through September 22nd.
Fuse is a three-day coding event with the financial services industry’s top software firms. Attendees work to create better integrations, build stronger relationships, and shape the next generation of financial technology. All while having a lot of fun.
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[Now on to this week’s top story that comes from LPL Financial, as this week the nation’s largest broker-dealer held its annual LPL Focus conference in San Diego.
I wasn’t able to attend the conference, but LPL CIO Victor Fetter kindly connected with me by phone to cover several of the key technology announcements made at the event.
First, ClientWorks, the replacement for the existing BranchNet platform, is now available to roughly 11,000 advisors, up significantly from the 500 beta testers this time last year. Next, an updated account opening solution is anticipated soon which will streamline the creation of LPL account forms, pre-populate forms for clients with existing LPL accounts, and automatically fire off an electronic signature workflow.
Fetter also highlighted a new Adoption Index score that advisors can use to gauge their own adoption of particular technologies and then identify areas where efficiency can be improved.
And finally, lots of attention was given to Guided Wealth Portfolios, LPL’s automated investment solution powered by BlackRock’s FutureAdvisor platform expected to be available in early 2017. Fetter told me that advisors can choose to add their brand to Guided Wealth Portfolios as an extension of their existing business, or they can create a new brand as a separate, but complementary, platform for certain clients.
Guided Wealth Portfolios will consist of ETF allocations managed by LPL Research and they will be visible in the ClientWorks dashboard. Clients can view their information using a mobile responsive website, but Fetter said a native app for iPhone or Android is not anticipated at this time. Oh, and I think fees for the service are still up in the air, so we’ll have to check back as the service gets closer to its official rollout.
And speaking of FutureAdvisor, this week, US Bank, the fifth largest commercial bank in the United States, announced that it, too, will be using FutureAdvisor to power an automated solution for its clients with portfolios designed by, you guessed it, US Bancorp Investments. Like LPL’s Guided Wealth Portfolios, US Bank said the service is expected to be available in 2017, and fees for the service were not yet disclosed.] To stay up to date with technological innovations, the independent broker-dealer LPL Financial is developing more tools for its new adviser dashboard and implementing smarter automation.
[Next up is news on Betterment, as this week the company announced a partnership with Uber, the multi-billion dollar global ride-sharing network, which allows drivers to open and fund a Betterment IRA account directly within the Uber app. Drivers get special fees, too, with their first year of Betterment completely free, and after that it’s 25 basis points per year on accounts below $100,000.
So guess what? The stakes for client acquisition just went up, in fact, way up. Millions of people recognize Uber, and when they see a partnership like this, they have to be thinking, “Hey, if Betterment’s good enough for a huge company like Uber, it’s gotta be good enough for me.”
And for Uber, they could have chosen anybody for this partnership. They could have teamed up with Vanguard, Schwab Intelligent Portfolios, or even *cough* FutureAdvisor, but no, they chose Betterment.
So the way I see it, this is about distribution and decreasing client acquisition costs. Look, for years, industry commentators, myself included, have beat the drum about the high acquisition costs of automated investment services and how tough it is for robo advisors to actually make a profit.
Well, if an automated service can immediately get exposure to hundreds of thousands of potential customers by getting embedded in another app, what’s to stop Betterment from getting embedded in the eBay app to invest your extra cash, or even into SnapChat right along side the SnapCash feature? That’s a pretty inexpensive, yet clever way, to acquire new customers.
So welcome to the new front line in the battle for asset management, I hope your marketing team is up for the challenge.] Uber Technologies Inc. is partnering with robo advice provider Betterment Inc. to offer thousands of its drivers access to retirement accounts.
Here are links to stories that didn’t make this week’s broadcast:
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Guide Financial, the financial planning startup acquired by John Hancock in June 2015, told its users via email this week that the company plans to discontinue operations on October 11.
Intuit Aggregation Wake
Guide Financial is the first financial adviser technology provider that I know of that has decided to close its operations in the wake of Intuit’s announcement that it is discontinuing its Financial Data APIs for account aggregation. Those APIs will be maintained only for current production developers until November 15, 2016, Intuit said in an email to developers.
In a phone call with Guide Financial, I learned that the company first attempted to contact as many advisers as possible by phone to communicate the news, and those who were not able to be reached received an email with the details of the shutdown on Thursday.
In the email, the company noted that Intuit had recently announced the discontinuation of the account aggregation services that powered the Guide Financial Service. But in my post from March 2015, How Intuit’s account aggregation shutdown may impact the fintech solutions you use, Intuit told developers that Finicity would be providing façade APIs to facilitate the transition from Intuit to Finicity for aggregation services. Guide Financial did not comment on the option to transition to aggregation provided by Finicity.
No Data Exports
In the weeks prior to the shutdown, Guide Financial users will not have the ability to request an export of their data contained in the system. Generally, data on clients is limited to basic demographic information and is likely to be found in other systems used by advisers, such as CRM and portfolio management software, so an export of that data would not be useful in most circumstances. Guide Financial said that transaction data aggregated from financial institutions will not be made available.
Guide Financial has offered a brief FAQ on its website regarding the transition, and additional questions can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org
For alternatives to Guide Financial, I can think of a few financial planning and financial dashboard solutions that perform account aggregation to update financial plans. The list of the solutions are below:
eMoney Advisor, $1,944 to $3,888/year depending on features, including aggregation and an online client dashboard
MoneyGuidePro, $1,295/year (I think aggregation is an additional $365/year, but I’m not 100% sure, and clients do not see an online dashboard for their outside accounts)
Note: I originally listed Balance Financial in the list of alternatives above, but I have not been able to connect with them for any updates. Also, their website’s terms and conditions have not been updated for two-and-a-half years (last updated January 28, 2014). Until I connect with someone at Balance, I’ll keep them listed in this note and not as a viable alternative to Guide Financial.
There are other solutions that perform aggregation (ByAllAccounts, Aqumulate, Quovo, Blueleaf, Wealth Access, etc.), but they generally don’t also have financial planning capabilities built directly in to the program.
If you can think of other solutions that should be on this list, contact me (or tweet me @billwinterberg) and I will update this list.
[Now on to this week’s top story that comes from Vanare, taking advantage of the slow summer to announce a new integration with Redtail Technology. Phase one of the integration is available today, which allows Vanare users to automatically create a new client record in Redtail CRM anytime a client completes the on boarding process in Vanare.
Subsequent phases, being rolled out later this Fall, promise to support two-way data sharing between the applications to better synchronize data on client activity and status reports.
But wait! You don’t have to be a Vanare customer to automatically populate new client records in Redtail. If you remember back in episode 185, Redtail announced its integration with Zapier, allowing you to use triggers in any application supported by Zapier to fire off an action in Redtail. Then in episode 186, I mentioned Wealthbox CRM’s Zapier integration.
And if you subscribe to Zapier’s premium plan, you get support to automate actions in Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics. So maybe it’s time to check the application you use for Zapier compatibility, and if they’re not supported, maybe you need to ask for it.
Now, back to Vanare, I want to also point out an announcement from a few weeks ago about Vanare’s support for Apex Clearing. This is first time I’ve heard of while-labeled robo advisor solution for advisors that supports Apex, which is the same clearing firm used by many of the larger direct-to-consumer investment services like Betterment, Wealthfront, and Robinhood.
Why is this important? Because other turnkey robo services for advisors use custody services from Folio Institutional, TD Ameritrade Institutional, and other, and when you look at their all-in custodial fees, I don’t think they are as competitive as Apex.
Now you could elect to work with Apex directly on your own proprietary investment solution, but that takes time, expertise, development, and other resources that you probably don’t have, so that’s why Vanare’s offering that sits on top of Apex is worth taking notice.] Vanare, an innovative wealth management technology platform, and Redtail Technology, a leading provider of client relationship management (CRM) solutions for financial services firms, have launched an integration that will allow Vanare users to sync client contact information directly from their Redtail CRM.
[Next up, I want to talk a little more about CRMs by talking about Salesforce, as this week the company announced an update to the Salesforce Inbox app. After last year’s acquisition of the calendar app called Tempo, Salesforce Inbox now has an enhanced calendar with one-click conference dialing, Sales Cloud data synchronization, and CRM record integration.
Still absent, though, is the contextually relevant info about clients and prospects invited to a meeting that Tempo used to provide, which could include Facebook updates or changes to the LinkedIn profile of meeting participants.
If this automated dossier concept sounds familiar, that’s because it’s similar to an app called Refresh that I told you about back in episode 159, which was subsequently acquired by LinkedIn, which is now part of Microsoft. Also, Salesforce acquired RelateIQ a while ago which powers the SalesforceIQ product with its trademarked Relationship Intelligence™ technology.
So here’s my important takeaway: There are just some things you can’t remember or keep up to date with about each and every client you have. Solutions powered by Microsoft and Salesforce and others, which arguably resemble CRM software, do a lot of the heavy lifting in the background, so you can focus on relationship development and not mundane data gathering.
Again, if you see how your business can be better with automated tools like these, you might want to mention it to your provider and be sure it’s on their road map.] Salesforce’s efforts to turn its Inbox app into a central resource for salespeople has a new trick: An integrated calendar built from its acquisition of Tempo that pulls in contact data from your Salesforce database, giving you a way to quickly find out more about the people you’re meeting with.
Here are the stories that didn’t make this week’s broadcast:
Hearsay Social says it is rolling out a client engagement platform that helps advisors reach clients and prospects more easily and more quickly via social media, their websites, email and text messages.
Today’s episode is brought to you by Envision Consulting, providers of IT management and support, cloud computing, and cybersecurity services to RIAs. This October, Envision is hosting a cybersecurity event with Kevin Mitnick, the World’s Most Famous Hacker, where you can find out how to leverage Kevin’s knowledge of the latest hacking techniques to protect your business from attack.
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[Get ready for the robo news, as this week’s top stories come from Fidelity Investments and TD Ameritrade, as both financial institutions recently announced online investing solutions for the retail investor. A few days ago, Fidelity officially rolled out Fidelity Go, specifically targeting digitally savvy customers in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, with investment assets in the low six figures.
When asked by Investor’s Business Daily what happens when Fidelity Go customers get older and wealthier, Rich Compson, head of managed accounts at Fidelity, responded that customers would be referred “to other services like Fidelity’s Portfolio Advisory Services.”
Ok, ok, but advisors aren’t completely left out, as Fidelity did promise details about an automated service it’s developing for financial advisers by year-end. That’s, details, by year-end.
And a few weeks ago, TD Ameritrade announced it had completed updates to its Amerivest Managed Portfolios retail offering, including a digital overhaul for better goal setting, performance tracking, and more.
In ThinkAdvisor’s interview with incoming CEO Tim Hockey, he said that the company will be using Amerivest’s tech enhancements “to launch a new robo for the self-directed client’s needs” scheduled for sometime in 2017.
When asked about referrals to RIAs who custody with TD Ameritrade Institutional, Hockey added that retail clients with $1 million dollars or more are the “target referral” for affiliated RIAs.
That comment came out at the same time the company announced a program with the XY Planning Network to provide dedicated service and no minimum asset requirement to use TD Ameritrade Institutional’s custody services. That’s good, it’s gotta be awkward knowing TD Ameritrade is going to target digitally savvy investors, aka potential XYPN clients, with their own retail robo solution.
On top of all that, Wells Fargo also announced that it, too, is entering the robo market, with a solution expected also sometime in 2017.
And if you don’t like today’s current robo solutions, you can go build your own robo algorithm with Quantopian, who just received fresh venture capital this week from hedge fund investor Steve Cohen.
That’s it, all I hear all day long is how great robos do this, or how wonderful robos do that: robo, robo, robo!]
[Now in NON-robo news, how about an update from Envestnet | Tamarac, as the company released the latest version of its client portal to advisors who use the Advisor View™ application. If you watched my coverage of the Envestnet Advisor Summit earlier this year, you would have seen a preview of the updated client portal, plus the key enhancements highlighted by Brandon Rembe. So click right here so you can watch that video.] Envestnet | Tamarac has completely redesigned the client portal in its Advisor View™ portfolio management and performance reporting application. The new client portal will be implemented as part of Tamarac’s July 2016 technology release, and seeks to help RIAs create highly customizable client portal experiences to engage their clients and appeal to the next generation of investors.
[Also, MoneyGuidePro recently released a utility called Best Interest Scout, intended to gather information about client goals, expectations, and investment details in one place. This should help you from a workflow perspective, but the tool should also be helpful in identifying when you must engage in a Best Interests Contract with a client. If you’re concerned about compliance with the pending fiduciary rule from the DoL, expect more tools like Best Interest Scout to come to market.] PIEtech, the creator of financial planning software MoneyGuidePro, has built a tool to see how well clients’ portfolios are aligned with their best interests, including retirement goals and concerns, insurance needs, and health-care costs.
Now since I took a few weeks off, I just don’t have time to cover all the stories in my backlog, including news on the talent exodus at Wealthfront, the Betterment for Business 401(k) offering surpassing 200 plan sponsors and $5 billion in AUM, Quovo, Riskalyze and more, so links to those stories are below:
Betterment for Business, the only turnkey 401(k) service that includes personalized investment advice for all participants, announced today that it has successfully added 200 plan sponsors to the platform in the last six months.
Betterment announced today that it is the first independent robo-advisor to reach $5 billion in assets under management. The company now helps more than 175,000 customers intelligently manage and grow their wealth.
Apex Clearing Corporation will begin offering to its broker dealer and RIA clients the ability to digitally manage investments using Vanare’s digital advice platform. Vanare offers a wealth management technology platform with a highly customizable white labeled Roboadvisor.
Advisor Software, Inc. has teamed up with Quovo to provide wealth managers with seamless access to aggregated client financial data, which can help put together an all-encompassing financial picture for every client.
Marstone, an innovative digital wealth company, and Quovo, a financial data science company for the wealth management industry, today announced that they have completed a partnership to enhance Marstone’s digital wealth solutions with Quovo’s industry-leading data aggregation.