We wrap up our coverage of Schwab IMPACT 2015 from the floor of The Exchange, noting that this is an incremental year in technology updates from Schwab Advisor Services.
Following last year’s major announcement of Schwab Intelligent Portfolios, I left Schwab IMPACT 2015 with the impression that Schwab Advisor Services is busy delivering incremental updates and improvements to the company’s existing solutions.
Thank you to Itegria for sponsoring our coverage from Schwab IMPACT 2015.
We enjoyed the 360º video tour of the Schwab Center that we secured permission to film throughout The Exchange at Schwab IMPACT 2015, the massive exhibit hall of vendors and solution providers to the independent RIA community.
Take in all the activity and buzz contained in The Exchange as we walk through barely half of the exhibit hall, pausing to take in some of the technology providers that are partners in the Schwab Advisor Services ecosystem.
Can you find out who threw the toy rocket at me? And can you find the hidden Itegria logos? There are three of them scattered randomly in the video.
This video is best experienced on your mobile device in the YouTube app. You can move your device in any direction to navigate the 360º video.
In this exclusive 360º video, Brian Shenson, Vice President of Advisor Technology for Schwab Advisor Services, gives us a personal tour of the Schwab Center booth at the center of The Exchange.
This video is best experienced on your mobile device in the YouTube app. You can move your device in any direction to navigate the 360º video. It’s impressive, and something never seen before at a financial services conference!
Brian Shenson, Vice President of Advisor Technology for Schwab Advisor Services, met with me at Schwab IMPACT 2015 to update the company’s technology roadmap.
In this interview from the heart of “Schwab Center” in the nucleus of The Exchange exhibit hall, Shenson walks me through the status of Schwab Advisor Mobile Connect, Schwab Advisor Portfolio Connect, and Schwab OpenView MarketSquare™.
[Financial Engines, a leading independent investment advisor, today announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire The Mutual Fund Store, LLC, a prominent nationally-branded independent Registered Investment Adviser, from Warburg Pincus and management for total consideration of approximately $560 million, including cash and stock.
First up this week is late-breaking news that Financial Engines, one of the original automated asset allocation tools for 401(k) accounts, announced it acquired the Mutual Fund Store, a $9.8 billion dollar RIA based in Kansas City.
Financial Engines is paying roughly $560 million in cash and stock, and will gain 345 employees spread across 125 retail locations that advise over 39,000 households. This deal adds a salvo of human advisers to Financial Engines’ online tools which, for now, are centered around retirement assets.
So, if you don’t have the technology that supports your own digital advice delivery to clients, you are falling behind. However, you are in a position to add value because you advise your clients on their total financial picture, not just their retirement accounts, so use this as your advantage while it lasts.] Financial Engines, a leading independent investment advisor, today announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire The Mutual Fund Store, LLC, a prominent nationally-branded independent Registered Investment Adviser, from Warburg Pincus and management for total consideration of approximately $560 million, including cash and stock.
[Now I want to transition to a quick recap of the T3 Enterprise conference held in Weston Florida earlier this week, where fintech veteran Joel Bruckenstein assembled 45 of the industry’s top technology providers to demonstrate their solutions for the broker-dealer and enterprise RIA marketplace.
Some of the significant news includes Riskalyze CEO Aaron Klein, who introduced the Real-Time Wealth Management Enterprise™ ecosystem, which combines Riskalyze, Autopilot Enterprise, and Compliance Cloud all into one solution and updates from eMoney’s Drew DiMarino who confirmed the company will be unbundling the eMoney dashboard and financial planning components.] MoneyGuidePro’s Bob Curtis flipped the bird at potential VC cash-bearers as Fidelity-owned eMoney vowed it was still a scrapper
[Next up is news from ShareFile, as the online collaboration provider announced an integration with Smarsh, widely known for their email and social media archiving platform. Under the new integration, Smarsh can now automatically archive documents exchanged via ShareFile without any manual intervention or paying for a separate solution that handles those online documents.
So, why is this important? Because when you send a document to clients, regulators want to make sure you have an archive of that document that you can’t modify after the fact, something ShareFile calls “immutable retention.”
If you don’t somehow archive documents you send to clients, you could be getting into some pretty hot water if you changed, say, a fee schedule document, after delivering a prior version to your client. That’s why the immutable retention is so important.] Need a more robust and complete way to archive? ShareFile has a new integration with The Archiving Platform™ from Smarsh, the popular comprehensive archive platform, to create the only solution that meets the regulatory requirements for both online file sync and share and immutable retention.
[And finally, wrapping up this week is news from Quovo, as the account aggregation provider, strike that, data science company announced it has partnered with Blueleaf, a financial relationship management platform.
This news comes on the heels of a partnership with Jefferson National announced a few weeks ago, allowing Quovo to obtain direct data feeds of variable annuity sub account information which, based on what I hear from you, has traditionally required manual data gathering because aggregation couldn’t handle similar sub account names that had different prices based on the annuity wrapper.] Blueleaf, a financial relationship management platform for advisors and their clients, today announced its partnership with Quovo, the leading financial data science company that addresses the needs of the wealth management industry. Blueleaf has selected Quovo as their data partner for the smarter aggregation of their clients’ held-away accounts.
[And speaking of account aggregation, let me finish by pointing out a Wall St. Journal column on account aggregation issues affecting Chase and Wells Fargo customers. Sites like Mint.com couldn’t aggregate those accounts for over a week, and I’m afraid that if these institutions don’t like the idea of third-party aggregators accessing their customer data, then high quality aggregation might get harder to come by, become more expensive, or both, so I’m going to keep an eye on this developing story and let you know what else you need to know as this story develops.] J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co. are snarling the flow of data to popular websites that help consumers manage their finances, according to people familiar with the matter.
[Let’s get right to this week’s top story which comes from Morningstar, as the investment research company just announced that it will acquire Total Rebalance Expert, the portfolio rebalancing solution created by Sheryl Rowling back in 2008. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, but my take on this news is that it’s a big positive for both companies, and here’s why.
First, Morningstar has provided back-office technology to thousands of advisors in the form of Morningstar Advisor Workstation and Morningstar Office, but for years advisors have complained that the internal portfolio rebalancing tool lacked some of the more sophisticated features found in competing solutions. So acquiring TRX closes this gap in Morningstar’s technology platform.
And for TRX, what began as a personal project for Sheryl Rowling’s own RIA has grown into a legitimate player in the portfolio rebalancing marketplace with over 175 firms already on board. But in order to take TRX to the next level, it’s going to require additional investments in development, marketing, and customer service, and that’s where Morningstar has the potential to add tremendous value.
This news is the latest in a string of fintech acquisitions this year that includes eMoney, Advent, LearnVest, Finance Logix, Upside Advisor, Guide Financial, and Yodlee. So, I think it’s time we have a chat. Come on, bring it in.
The independent technology providers you use today are in play. Fintech is hot right now, and there’s a lot of cash available, so don’t be surprised if one of the core solutions you use announces it’s going to be acquired.
Now I’m not saying you need to make an exit plan for each piece of technology you use, but I’m going do my best to keep you up to date on what’s happening, and offer suggestions where I feel appropriate if you need to make a move to an alternate solution. Ok? Ok.] Morningstar, Inc. (NASDAQ: MORN), a leading provider of independent investment research, has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Total Rebalance Expert (tRx), an automated, tax-efficient investment portfolio rebalancing platform for financial advisors, from FNA, LLC. Morningstar expects to complete the transaction in November 2015.
[Next up is more acquisition news as LogMeIn, the remote access software provider, announced that it will acquire LastPass, the popular password manager solution, for $110 million. This follows the company’s September 2014 acquisition of Meldium, another password management tool, with a price tag of $15 million.
Now LastPass is the solution I use to manage passwords to hundreds of online accounts, so I am paying very close attention to what’s going to happen to the product in the near future. One thing LogMeIn did say on their website is that users of Meldium will be encouraged to transition to a comparable version of LastPass in early 2016.
But much of the online chatter I’ve read about LogMeIn mentions terrible customer service experiences and frustrating billing issues, so I admit that I’m considering competing solutions like 1Password or Dashlane, but I’m not making any moves just yet. Nevertheless, I’ve saved a great article that walks through the steps of extracting all my password data from LastPass to migrate to another service in case I might need it in the future, and you’ll find that link along with this episode’s top stories.] It’s a big day here at LastPass. We’re thrilled to announce that we’re joining LogMeIn.
[And finally, a few days ago I attended the first-ever Advisor Con event hosted by Laser App Software in Las Vegas. The agenda at Advisor Con was filled with training sessions, and not just on Laser App software, but training for all of the technology providers who where in attendance.]
In its first Advisor Con event, Laser App gathered advisors in Las Vegas and doubled down on providing technology training resources.
As technology adoption continues to be a challenge for many financial advisors, Laser App met the issue head on with a new event dedicated to technology training.
In this three video series from the first-ever Laser App Advisor Con event, you’ll see how the company kicked off its inaugural conference by putting technology vendors front and center to highlight the value they bring to advisory firms.
Advisor Con Day One Kickoff
What you’ll learn in this video: My top three takeaways from the morning sessions, including MoneyGuidePro, Riskalzye, and Silanis.
Advisor Con Day One Provider Presentations
What you’ll learn in this video: Hear the tips technology providers want Advisor Con attendees to take back to their office.
Advisor Con Day Two Training
What you’ll learn in this video: Find out why Laser App dedicated an entire day of the Advisor Con agenda to technology training sessions.
Total Rebalance Expert, or TRX, is widely known for its impeccable portfolio rebalancing and tax management features. After all, TRX was born from Sheryl Rowling’s own need for an extremely precise tool to manage the demands of her RIA and CPA businesses.
But what escapes many advisers is the company’s culture born from the land of eternal summer, aka San Diego.
TRX lacks the institutional swagger of its larger counterparts, including iRebal from TD Ameritrade Institutional and Tamarac Advisor Rebalancing from Envestnet, but focuses on delivering value with its product line, where attention to detail and accuracy down to the penny and fractional share is vital.
So what happens when TRX decides to let its collective hair down and focus on education and value for its customers? You get TRX Unplugged.
Watch the coverage of TRX Unplugged above to gain a sense for how the company supports its advisor relationships and courts prospective firms with its deliberate relaxed attitude and atmosphere.
On today’s broadcast, the SEC fines an RIA for cybersecurity oversights, learn the steps you should implement to fight ransomware, and RightCapital is the newest startup in the financial planning software marketplace.
Today’s episode is brought to you by True North Networks, a leading provider of managed IT, hosting, and security services to financial professionals. With the introduction of SecureWorkplace, True North Networks helps advisors combat cybercrime with industry leading technology, monitoring, and employee awareness training.
And if you sign up for SecureWorkplace in October, you’ll receive a free firewall valued up to $2,000. Learn more about True North Networks and SecureWorkplace today by visiting fppad.com/truenorth
[I’ve been under the weather for a few days, but I’m back with this week’s top story that comes from the Securities and Exchange Commission, as the industry watchdog recently settled charges with a St. Louis-based RIA for failing to establish cybersecurity policies and procedures. In its settlement, the SEC said the firm “failed entirely to adopt written policies and procedures reasonably designed to safeguard customer information” and the regulator assessed a $75,000 penalty. As the result of a breach in July 2013, hackers gained access to personally identifiable information for roughly 100,00 individuals.
But the silver lining, if there is one, is that the SEC said that no clients have suffered financial harm as a result of the breach. Well, not yet, at least.
So this is your wake up call if you’re behind on establishing your own cybersecurity policies. You need them, and you need to periodically test them, or you may subject your firm to similar consequences.
Once again, I’ve linked the SEC’s most recent cybersecurity guidance in the show notes or consider hiring a security expert for RIAs like Itegria, Envision RIA, External IT, True North Networks, Right Size Solutions, and others.]
[Next up is more news about cybersecurity, as Shareholders Service Group president Dan Skiles recently addressed the rise in ransomware attacks on RIAs. Skiles notes that RIAs typically come across ransomware in a phishing email or a rogue file attachment, and once it’s mistakenly activated, the ransomware holds your computer and your files hostage unless you pay a ransom amount in bitcoin to unlock everything.
Obviously it’s best to never launch programs from unknown sources, but if ransomware does get activated inside your firm, Skiles recommends you isolate the computer that was attacked and work with an experienced IT professional to limit the damage. Arguably the best protection against ransomware is to have a fully-functional backup of all of your files, so you can literally throw your infected computer in the trash and start from scratch by restoring your files from a good backup.
It’s best if the ransomware never gets launched in the first place, so keeping your cybersecurity policies up to date AND offering periodic training to your firm’s employees will go a long way in protecting the information your clients trust you to keep safe.] When your firm is hit with a ransomware virus, try these steps first
[And finally, I’m wrapping up with a new startup called RightCapital, which announced the introduction of its eponymous financial planning software at the XY Planning Network conference in Charlotte last week. RightCapital joins Advizr, another planning software startup I’ve covered before, to offer an intuitive and attractively-designed platform as an alternative to veteran providers like MoneyGuide Pro, eMoney, and Advicent.
You’ll have to test drive RightCaptial to see if its planning capabilities are up to your standards, but with built-in account aggregation, integrations with Morningstar, Yodlee, and Redtail, and a price tag under $1,000 a year, RightCapital deserves a spot on your radar screen, especially if financial planning is going to play a more prominent role in your business.] Newly launched service provider RightCapital thinks it has created a better mousetrap and is undaunted by the hypercompetitive market