On today’s broadcast, get an update on LPL Financial’s technology roadmap, FutureAdvisor signs up the fifth largest bank in the US, Betterment forms a partnership with Uber, and more.
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Here are the links to this week’s top stories:
LPL placing heavy focus on technology improvements from InvestmentNews, and
[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.
Uber Lets Drivers Hail an IRA with Betterment from the Wall Street Journal
[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:
Siftery helps you discover the right software product for your business. Great software is a force multiplier for your job. And picking the right solution for your company will make you look like a rockstar.
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.
SS&C Advent’s Black Diamond wealth platform is now integrated with Portfolio Crash Testing by RiXtrema, one of the advisory industry’s leading Portfolio Analytics/Risk Management solutions.