On today’s broadcast, Schwab reveals details about its Institutional Intelligent Portfolios™ platform for advisors, LearnVest gets acquired by Northwestern Mutual, and Periscope becomes the latest trendy app for live video streaming.
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Here are the links to this week’s top stories:
Charles Schwab Unveils Institutional Intelligent Portfolios Details from BusinessWire
[There were two big stories this week you need to know about, so let’s begin with Schwab Advisor Services, as the company announced details of its Institutional Intelligent Portfolios™ solution created for you, the financial advisor, that will be released in the second quarter of this year.
Institutional Intelligent Portfolios is an automated investment management solution that allows you to add your firm name, logo, and contact information to the platform as well as design your own portfolios, provided that you choose from a pool of about 200 ETFs.
Now if you custody over $100 million dollars with Schwab, there’s no platform fee, but if you custody under $100 million, Schwab will charge users a platform fee of 10 basis points. And no matter what, you can’t allocate less than 4% in cash for any of your custom portfolios.
So what does this mean for your business? You now have yet another technology solution to offer a low-cost automated investment service to emerging clients, but IIP has the potential to be “free” if you custody enough assets with Schwab AND you ignore the drag on returns due to the 4% minimum cash requirement. But for that rock bottom price, you’re giving up some control.
If Schwab decides to change the available ETF options, or decides to require a higher minimum cash allocation, well, it’s their way or the highway. And don’t forget, this is not a set and forget business model.
These are people that we’re talking about signing up for automated services; they’re more than just users. Your business may already be spread thin today, and unless you’re thoughtful about a new strategy for serving this market, you may not be setting yourself up for success.
So will you be adding IIP and its ETFs to your RIA ASAP for your VIPs, or will you be SOL and suffer from FOMO? Hashtag LOL.] In company webcast and press release today, Schwab Advisor Services provided details of its Institutional Intelligent Portfolios™ solution that the company describes as an “automated investment management solution for independent registered investment advisors (RIAs).”
[Next up is the surprising announcement this week that LearnVest, the New-York based financial planning startup, has agreed to be acquired by Northwestern Mutual, the largest direct provider of individual life insurance, AND one of the top 10 biggest independent broker-dealers in the financial planning industry.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, and rumors have been flying in every direction about valuation, revenue, burn rates and more.
Now a lot of times LearnVest has been mischaracterized as another robo advisor, but the company actually employs over 40 full-time financial planners, and they built their own proprietary financial planning software and tools because existing solutions were too complex and time consuming to use.
So while financial planning has been the big focus of LearnVest, I don’t think that was a big factor in this deal at all.
According to CEO John Schlifske, Northwestern Mutual advisers created over 400,000 financial plans last year. If you take LearnVest’s number of clients in their February 2015 Form ADV Part 2, at best they delivered 3,700 plans in the last fiscal year, not even 1% of the Northwestern Mutual’s volume.
For me, this deal is all about lead generation. By acquiring LearnVest, Northwesten Mutual now gets access to the over 1.5 million people who use LearnVest’s free mobile app or subscribe to LearnVest’s content. Schlifske was quoted saying that LearnVest “is expected to continue providing unbiased planning,” so assuming that’s true, what’s the upside for Northwestern Mutual?
How does one bring together “best-in-class products” with a “cutting-edge client digital experience,” without an inherent conflict? The jury’s still out on this one, so be sure to watch future broadcasts as this story develops.] According to the Wall St. Journal, Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co., said it would acquire New York-based online financial planning startup LearnVest Inc.
Here are the stories that didn’t make this week’s broadcast:
Periscope is consensual voyeurism. That’s not a new idea—millions use Twitch to watch other people play videogames, while YouTube, UStream, and a dozen others have tried to make businesses out of live-streaming video—but it feels like the right platform and the right time.
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