Tag Archives: Personal Capital

Betterment introduces Plus and Premium hybrid advice plans featuring in-house CFP® professionals

The lede!

  • Betterment adjusts its default fee structure to 25 basis points for accounts of all sizes for what is now called Betterment Digital (the 35bps, 25bps, and 15bps tiers are gone)
  • Betterment customers who formerly qualified for the 15 basis point tier will see their fees increase 67% to 25 basis points. Some customers are not pleased
  • New Plus and Premium plans are offered that introduce hybrid advice engagements from human advisers for an additional fee
  • Betterment Plus includes an annual planning call with the in-house adviser team and support via email. Betterment Plus pricing is 40 basis points and requires a $100,000 account minimum
  • Betterment Premium include unlimited contact with the in-house adviser team via phone and email. Betterment Premium pricing is 50 basis points and requires a $250,000 account minimum
  • All Betterment plan fees are capped, charged only on the first $2 million of a customer’s balance.
  • Betterment is introducing the Betterment Advisor Network™, launching with roughly ten advisers who have complete the Betterment vetting process, all of whom must hold the CFP® certification
  • There is no fee to be included in the adviser referral network
  • Betterment receives no referral fees for directing customers to any specific adviser in the referral network
  • Customers who work with an adviser in the Betterment referral network pay a fee of 25 basis points on their assets in their Betterment account. The adviser can set an additional fee on top of Betterment’s fee for services provided

Betterment introduces hybrid advice plans with access to in-house CFP® professionals

Betterment announced today that the company will introduce hybrid advice offering with access to an in-house team of financial advisers.

For the full details from Betterment, see the post below from the Betterment website:

 

The Best of Both Worlds: Smart Technology + Financial Experts

Fee Fallout

One unfortunate consequence of the new 25 basis point pricing structure is the elimination of the 15 basis point tier that formerly applied to accounts over $100,000.

Reaction on Twitter was swift, as these customers will see their fees increase by roughly 67%.

Fee Parity Between Retail and Advisor Platforms

Despite the frustration of customers who formerly qualified for the 15 basis point tier, Betterment Digital’s pricing establishes parity with the pricing offered in the Betterment for Advisors (formerly Betterment Institutional) service.

Since the Betterment for Advisors introduction, I had been critical of the conflict the different pricing tiers presented for advisors who chose to implement Betterment for Advisors for their clients.

I often questioned how an adviser could meet his or her fiduciary obligation to clients with over $100,000 in assets, as that client would pay fees of 15 basis points using a “retail” Betterment account, where a minimum fee of 25 basis points would be charged on a Betterment for Advisors account, for asset management services that I felt were essentially equivalent.

Today, that fee disparity, and the fiduciary quandary, is eliminated, but at the expense of raising fees for customers who qualified for the former 15 basis point tier.

Betterment undercuts Personal Capital

One other observation is Betterment Premium now enters the competitive hybrid advice market, a space dominated by Vanguard Personal Advisor Services, that is also occupied by Personal Capital and the Schwab Intelligent Advisory offering scheduled to debut sometime in the first half of 2017.

Betterment Premium is more expensive than the 30 basis point fee Vanguard Personal Advisor Services and the 28 basis point fee from the upcoming Schwab Intelligent Advisory, but at 50 basis points, the service undercuts Personal Capital’s current 89 basis point pricing.

 

Balance Financial to shut down January 31, 2017

In an email to current users, Balance Financial, a personal financial management app acquired by TaxAct in 2013, announced it will shut down operations on January 31, 2017.

See the email announcement below:

Balance Financial shutdown email announcement sent to users

Balance Financial was an alternative to well-known personal financial management apps, or PFM, such as Mint.com and Personal Capital that performed account aggregation to deliver a consolidated dashboard of a user’s financial accounts.

In the wake of Intuit’s decision to discontinue its Financial Data APIs, any PFM apps using Intuit’s aggregation had to migrate to other account aggregation options (See How Intuit’s account aggregation shutdown may impact the fintech solutions you use)

One provider, Guide Financial, shut down as a result of the change combined with other changes in its business model (See Guide Financial to shut down operations on October 11.)

I listed Balance Financial as a potential alternative for Guide Financial users, but quickly removed it since I had no success in connecting with the company for a statement regarding support for the application in the near future.

Alas, it seems that TaxACT is not interested in supporting Balance Financial beyond January 31, 2017.

I suspect that the number of advisors using the Balance Financial app is very low, likely below a dozen, so few are likely to be affected by the shutdown. What’s less clear is how many retail customers Balance has and what alternatives they find offer similar functionality and pricing to that of Balance.

Have any tips? Feel free to contact me.

FPPad Bits and Bytes for December 16, 2016

On today’s broadcast, Schwab announces its Schwab Intelligent Advisory services, Finicity raises $42 million for account aggregation, Envestnet|Tamarac rolls out Yodlee, and more.

So get ready, FPPad Bits and Bytes begins now!

(Watch FPPad Bits and Bytes on YouTube)

Today’s episode is brought to you by eMoney Advisor, featuring a new Client Onboarding process as a part of their leading client experience. Onboarding replaces printed fact-finding documents with an automated, digital workflow, allowing clients to populate their own personal financial information online from anywhere — adding an extra layer of convenience and efficiency to your service.

eMoney Advisor

For more information on eMoney’s Client Onboarding tool, visit fppad.com/emoneyonboarding today.

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

Schwab Announces Schwab Intelligent Advisory™ from Charles Schwab

[Now the big story this week is news from Charles Schwab, as the largest custodian for RIAs announced plans to introduce Schwab Intelligent Advisory™ in the first half of 2017. In the press release, Schwab’s Neesha Hathi said that Schwab Intelligent Advisory is designed for emerging or mass affluent investors who don’t have complex financial situations, features access to CFP® professionals who are available by phone and videoconference, and charges fees of just 28 basis points (disclaimer!) with a maximum of $3,600 a year.

Now this isn’t as much of a technology story as it is a marketing story, because the technology for Schwab Intelligent Advisory portfolio management is that same that powers Schwab Intelligent Portfolios for retail investors and Institutional Intelligent Portfolios™ that you can use in your own RIA if you custody assets with Schwab.

But, how does that make you feel knowing you’re using the same technology that your custodian will use to offer its own human-assisted advisory services to mass affluent clients?

So I was asked if I thought RIAs should be concerned about this announcement, and I said yes, RIAs should absolutely be concerned. Look, when it comes to getting a prospect to buy what you do, most of the time it’s not what you say, it’s what people hear, and I’ve gotta admit, prospects are hearing comprehensive plans by CFP® professionals with 24/7 access, all for 28 basis points (disclaimer!)? Unless your prospects hear something far more different and compelling from you, I just can’t believe they’ll be willing to pay more than three times the price of Schwab Intelligent Advisory for your services.

And I’m not ignoring Vanguard’s Personal Advisor Services, which also employs hundreds of CFP® professionals and charges 30 basis points (thank you!), with more than $40 billion on the platform and growing. A few of you have told me that you’ve lost clients to Vanguard’s service, which is also likely going to happen with Schwab Intelligent Advisory, but the difference with Vanguard is that they’re not also soliciting your custody business while simultaneously soliciting mass affluent clients.

But the executives at Schwab surely know what they’re doing, and I think they know their target RIA client pretty well, which I suspect largely enforces client account minimums of a million dollars or more, so Schwab Intelligent Advisory really isn’t a competitive threat, because it’s not intended for the high-net worth clientele targeted by the largest RIAs that generally choose to custody with Schwab.] Charles Schwab today announced plans to expand its suite of wealth management and advisory services with the launch of Schwab Intelligent Advisory, a hybrid advisory service that combines live credentialed professionals and algorithm driven technology to make financial and investment planning more accessible to consumers.

Finicity Secures $42 Million in Funding to Accelerate New Solution Development from Finicity

[Now one of the things not mentioned about Schwab Intelligent Advisory is account aggregation, which is the focus of my next two stories, starting with Finicity, as the company announced it secured $42 million in a new funding round led by Experian.

This is the first time I’ve mentioned Finicity in my broadcast, but I have a popular post on FPPad from March of this year when Intuit announced it was shutting down their Financial Data API and selected Finicity to offer façade APIs to developers who needed to transition off of Intuit’s aggregation.

In the wake of that change, Guide Financial, which was acquired by John Hancock in the summer of 2015, shut down back in October, but other than that I haven’t heard of other significant disruptions among other tech providers.

What remains to be seen is whether or not Finicity makes an attempt to offer aggregation services to advisers, either directly or by partnering with existing technology providers, so if you have some intel you can share with me, I’d appreciate the heads up, otherwise advisers can continue to engage aggregation providers such as Morningstar ByAllAccounts, Aqumulate, eMoney, Quovo Wealth Access, and Envestnet|Yodlee.] Finicity, a leading provider of real-time financial data aggregation and insights, has secured $42 million in new funding. Experian, a global innovator in consumer and business credit reporting, led Finicity’s Series B round, along with a venture debt facility provided by Bridge Bank and participation from existing investors.

Tamarac Incorporates Yodlee’s Data Aggregation into Advisor Xi® from PRNewswire

[And speaking of Envestnet|Yodlee, my last story highlights the rollout of Envestnet|Yodlee to the Envestnet|Tamarac platform. While at the Schwab IMPACT conference in October, I had a chance to connect with Brandon Rembe to get a quick update on what this new feature means for advisors.

I’ve linked the full interview over here and in the description below, but let me just finish by saying that technology like account aggregation is still a bit of a differentiator for you, since it helps you know as much as you can about your client’s total financial picture, and not just what clients have at one custodian, such as, ohhh, Charles Schwab, which is a complete coincidence.] Envestnet | Tamarac now enables advisors to add assets and liabilities to households in Advisor View™, helping them expand their focus and deliver more holistic advice to clients.

A few parting words:

Before I sign off, you need to know that I have some big plans in the works for FPPad content in 2017. I’m not going to go into the details right now, but what you will notice is that this broadcast, the almost-weekly videos, will be taking a bit of a hiatus for a few months.

But don’t worry, I’ll still be providing my independent insight on financial technology that thousands of you count on as you navigate what I feel is an exciting, unprecedented opportunity in the business of financial advice.

So connect with me anytime on Twitter, I’m @billwinterberg, or sign up for my email newsletter at fppad.com/subscribe

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

Scottrade® Advisor Services Clearing Paths for Advisors with New Tech Agreements from Scottrade

Scottrade® Advisor Services now has agreements with two leading industry solutions providers to help RIAs run their day-to-day routines. Scottrade signed agreements with Morningstar, Inc. and Orion Advisor Services, LLC to offer their services at a discount.

Yahoo Says 1 Billion User Accounts Were Hacked from NY Times

Yahoo, already reeling from its September disclosure that 500 million user accounts had been hacked in 2014, disclosed Wednesday that a different attack in 2013 compromised more than 1 billion accounts.

A Note From Chris O’Neill about Evernote’s Privacy Policy from Evernote

We recently announced an update to Evernote’s privacy policy that we communicated poorly, and it resulted in some understandable confusion. We’ve heard your concerns, and we apologize for any angst we may have caused.

Introducing Asset Classes from Riskalyze

Advisors have been asking for better ways to visualize portfolio allocations, and we’re excited to announce today that we’re rolling out Asset Class coverage for all portfolios in Riskalyze!

Personal Capital Adds $1.5 Billion in AUM and Closes $100 Million in Financing in 2016 from PRNewswire

Personal Capital, the leading digital and professional advisor based wealth management firm, today announced that IGM Financial Inc. has completed the firm’s Series E round. Additionally, Silicon Valley Bank has extended $25 million in credit to the firm.

Watch FPPad Bits and Bytes for December 16, 2016

Watch FPPad Bits and Bytes for December 16, 2016

FPPad Bits and Bytes for January 15

On today’s broadcast, Jemstep gets acquired by Invesco, rumors fly about a Snapchat robo advisor, FutureAdvisor links up with its first bank, and more.

So get ready, FPPad Bits and Bytes begins now!

(WatchFPPad Bits and Bytes on YouTube)

Invesco acquires Jemstep, a market-leading provider of advisor-focused digital solutions from PRNewswire

[This week’s top story comes from Jemstep, as the B2B online investment platform was acquired by Invesco, the $800 billion dollar asset manager based a stone’s throw away from my studio right here in Atlanta.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, Jemstep’s leadership will stay onboard to run the Invesco subsidiary, and for now, the company says there won’t be any changes to existing partnerships, custodians, or asset availability in model portfolios.

Ignoring B2C acquisitions of FutureAdvisor and LearnVest, the last twelve months have seen John Hancock acquire Guide Financial and Envestnet acquire Upside.

So who are the independent B2B providers left? I see Autopilot, Trizic, Oranj, Vanare, Betterment Institutional, Motif Investing, and to some extent, the roll-your-own open source platform from Wealthbot.] Invesco Ltd. has acquired Jemstep, a market-leading provider of advisor-focused digital solutions.

Social media firms make ETF push from Reuters

[But hold on! Sending shockwaves in the retail robo space is Snapchat, as rumors were flying this week that the ephemeral chat app might introduce it’s own investment service to its 100 million active daily users.

Uh, let me explain my thoughts in a brief demonstration… Get it, jump the shark?] Snapchat is understood to be at the front of a queue of tech firms developing Robo-Advisory technology – which uses algorithms to help users develop and implement customized investment strategies for retirement planning.

BBVA Compass Teams Up With Robo FutureAdvisor from Forbes

[But wait, there’s more! In its first move after being acquired by BlackRock, FutureAdvisor announced it is partnering with BBVA Compass to roll out the automated investment tools to the bank’s nearly 700 branches in the US.

Bank customers will get access to FutureAdvisors’ digital investment management for the standard fee of 50 basis points, and you can probably bet that new accounts opened up with be held with BBVA’s broker-dealer affiliate, which is how the bank capitalizes on the partnership.] BBVA Compass, the Sunbelt subsidiary of the Spanish banking giant, has announced it will partner with FutureAdvisor to offer its customers digital investment management, popularly known as Robo Advisors. It is the first major bank to sign on with FutureAdvisor since the advisory firm combined forces with BlackRock, the giant asset management company, last year.

Robo Adviser Wealthfront Begins to Offer Free Portfolio Reviews from WSJ.com

[And if you’re not sick of robos by now, let me add news from Wealthfront who this week released a free Portfolio Review service to show investors how bad their current portfolios are and urge them to save a boat load of money by switching to Wealthfront. Whoops, did I say that out loud?

This concept is nothing new, as Personal Capital has offered a similar portfolio analyzer since 2011, and FeeX has been doing it since 2012, but here’s the deal. These VC-backed companies are spending tons of money to target your clients and prospects to get them to try out this tool, and of course, they’re going to tell clients they have suboptimal allocations and are paying high fees to their advisor.

So, expect clients to bring up fees, allocations, and performance in your next meeting, and you need to have a strong answer in the form of your value proposition, which is all the added advice, guidance, and behavior management you deliver that the automated services are incapable of providing.] In a bid to attract more assets, Wealthfront Inc. is joining other robo advisers in providing free advice to investors about their accounts at other financial institutions.

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

New Laserfiche Release Aims to Improve ECM from CMSWire

Laserfiche just released version 10 of its enterprise content management system (ECM). Speaking at the Laserfiche Empower 2016 Conference in Long Beach, Calif., Laserfiche President Karl Chan said the new version is designed to supercharge content-driven business processes, enabling enterprises to redesign the flow of information throughout the enterprise.

LastPass Revamps Its Interface, Adds Emergency Access and Better Sharing from Lifehacker

LastPass is one of the best password managers around. Today it gets a bit better with an improved interface and a handful of new features.

Dashlane 4 Makes Changing Passwords on Hacked Sites Easier, Adds a New Interface, and More from Lifehacker

Dashlane is one of our favorite password managers, and today the service updated with a new, consistent interface across all devices, an updated “password changer” that lets you change passwords on a site without even visiting it, new languages, and more.

 

Watch FPPad Bits and Bytes for January 15, 2016

Watch FPPad Bits and Bytes for January 15, 2016

Will 2016 bring a “run on the robos?”

How well are the online investment services prepared for a run on the bank type scenario?

How well are the online investment services prepared for a run on the bank type scenario?

Edit January 6, 2016: Added details that Personal Capital Advisors uses the custody services of Pershing Advisor Solutions LLC. Removed this tweet from a user of Personal Capital’s free dashboard, replaced with the Wealthfront tweet seen below.

I’m posting this today, as I’m genuinely concerned about what will happen when online investment services get flooded with redemption/account close requests.

“You STINK”

For example, take this tweet (note to readers in the future: if the embedded tweets below get deleted, I captured screenshots that I can post for posterity):

I stumbled across this tweet, as this person is upset about their portfolio performance.

So this got me thinking:

What happens when online investment services get flooded with redemption requests and account closures?

Run on the Robos

If an online investment service isn’t responsive to requests and complaints in a public forum (Twitter), how well will they respond once they are deluged with irate customers who are fed up and want out quickly?

“Sorry, we have a big backlog right now, but no worries, your money is still safe?”

¯_(ツ)_/¯

I don’t ever want to see businesses fail. I don’t ever want to see investors get into difficult situations regarding their investments.

But I fear that if a trickle of dissatisfaction with online investment services quickly becomes a flood, online services will get crushed.

Not picking on Personal Capital

Before you go, don’t assume that I’m picking on Personal Capital.

Yes, tweets above that are related to their company trigged my question of what happens when account closure rates skyrocket, but Personal Capital uses the custody services of Pershing Advisor Solutions LLC (it’s on page 5 of their Form ADV Part 2A Appendix 1).

Look, Pershing is a very large financial institution with nearly $1.5 trillion in global assets under administration and 75 years of experience.

200 account closures a day probably doesn’t make them sweat. 1,000 a week? That might be an average week. ACH, DTC, ACAT, they don’t bat an eye.

But for the startups that manage their own proprietary systems on top of Apex Clearing? Have they been tested?

I suppose I can contact them and ask, but what answer do you think I’m going to receive?

“Oh, Bill, thank you for bringing this to our attention, and as a result we found bottlenecks in our processes and have improved our ability to efficiently and accurately process account redemptions and closures.”

I don’t think so.

I’ve heard this before: “Once you go robo, you don’t go back.”

That, and I wanted the first Internet timestamp for “run on the robos.”

Robo advisor is a perfect moniker and here’s why

tl;dr: Algorithms are incapable of giving financial advice, so the oxymoron “robo advisor” is a perfect moniker. Know what you’re getting (and not getting) from automated investment services.

“I am tired of the whole robo thing,” says Motif Investing CEO Hardeep Walia.

Personal Capital CEO Bill Harris bemoans, “We are not a robo advisor.”

Wealthfront CEO Adam Nash retorts, “New tech doesn’t always fit neatly into a bucket.”

Cry Me a Robo River

To the automated investment services, I say,

“Boo hoo.”

NOW these services are beginning to experience how it feels when others, right or wrong, control the conversation about their business.

Most journalists, reporters, TV anchors, correspondents, bloggers and more don’t really know what makes any of the automated investment services different from one another, so most simply package them up into one catch-all term “robo advisor.”

Let’s face it: “robo-advisor” makes for great click bait. If it didn’t work (and generate clicks and eyeballs), editors and producers would stop using it. (You clicked to land here, didn’t you?)

But please, asking everyone to stop using “robo advisor” because it misrepresents what you do or somehow marginalizes your service in some way?

I submit to you Exhibits A and B.

“You don’t need that guy,” gloats Wealthfront’s ad.

Sure, because most financial professionals out there are just glorified psychics, spiritualists, or stock market prognosticators whose only tool for financial advice is a crystal ball!

Please.

The financial services industry has seen this marginalization long before automated investment services arrived.

Living In Glass Houses

The fiduciary financial professionals should be just as upset about this gross characterization of fortune tellers as the automated investment service providers are about the term “robo advisor.” (people who live in glass houses…)

“Stop comparing us to fortune tellers!”

“We are not personal psychic advisors!”

Perhaps Wealthfront paints with too broad a brush. Ok, so here’s Exhibit C:

Wealthfront: Don't Pay For Expensive Financial Advisors

Wealthfront: Don’t Pay For Expensive Financial Advisors

See? “Don’t pay for expensive financial advisors.”

Why not?

Because Wealthfront is the end-all-be-all service that investors need? Because Wealthfront does the exact same thing all fiduciary financial advisors do? Because all your financial needs are met by Wealthfront’s software?

Ask a Question 100 Times…

Go ahead, go to any automated investment service website right now. Wealthfront. Betterment. Future Advisor. Even the anti-“robo-advisor” Personal Capital. (*read my note below)

Fill out their questionnaire. Complete a free “Investment Checkup.”

What is the answer you get?

The answer from ANY of these services is ALWAYS to invest.

ALWAYS.

There is no Plan B, no backup option, no alternate strategy.

There’s no, “You really should first pay off your high interest credit card balances.”

No, “You should save up an emergency fund where you can access the money quickly.”

No, “You should create a will and advance medical directives first in case something were to happen to you.”

But ask automated investment services a question 100 times, “What should I do with my money?” and the answer is always going to be the same:

Invest in a diversified portfolio of low cost ETFs.

It’s the only answer these services have. There’s nothing else.

It’s not financial advice. It’s not wealth advice.

It’s barely investment advice.

It’s an investment recommendation. The output of a calculator.

Sophisticated or not, automated investment services are ALWAYS going to recommend investing your money.

There simply is no other result to offer. The algorithms today are incapable of suggesting anything but investing.

So Why Robo Advisor?

So why robo advisor as a moniker?

Because it is a oxymoron, a name that contradicts itself.

Algorithms, software programs, aka “robots” are incapable of making judgment calls and evaluating emotions or feelings in the calculation process.

Robots can’t give advice.

Robots can only decide based on ones and zeroes. True or false.

Sure, an algorithm’s answer can be associated with a level confidence (recall IBM’s Watson playing Jeopardy), but each discrete answer is associated with a level of confidence based off of a set of discrete factors evaluated in the calculation process.

An algorithm’s output is a result. Functions return arguments.

But don’t call that advice.

Know What You’re Getting

As with most decision-making processes, there’s often a big difference in what you can do and what you should do.

What is important to you? How does a decision make you feel? How do you prioritize your goals?

Can your entire life, your goals, your dreams, your aspirations be captured in a four question survey? A ten question survey? Even a hundred question survey?

For automated investment services to survey the market and say “Hey, we can improve investing outcomes by building a software program that does everything on the cheap!”

The questionnaire is only part of the advice process, it is not the start and finish.

And then there’s the talk of disruption, mainly coming from the media (I don’t recall any of the automated investment services specifically saying they intend “to disrupt” the financial services industry).

What industry are automated investment services attempting to disrupt, anyway?

Vanguard, the mutual fund giant, has been offering diversified, low-cost investment products and services quite successfully since the 1970s.

Just remember that the next time you consider the services of an automated investment service, know what you are getting.

Do your homework.

You are getting the results of a calculator.

The calculator is programmed to give an answer.

Not advice.

Not from a robot.

Don’t assume that the answer you get is the best answer for your situation.

Who you are as a person cannot be summed up in an online questionnaire.

 

*Note: Personal Capital toes the line on the robo advisor definition. Users complete the Investment Checkup and receive a target asset allocation illustration based on answers to the short questionnaire. However, specific mutual funds and ETFs are not recommended, so it’s not explicit. Users do get a basic automated investment allocation recommendation with no human intervention, but it’s up to the user to connect each recommended asset to a specific mutual fund or ETF to purchase. Users who want specific fund and ETF recommendations must engage Personal Capital for traditional investment advice rendered by human advisers and pay Personal Capital’s standard fees. This formal engagement is not robo advice.

FPPad Bits and Bytes for February 6

On today’s broadcast, the rumors are true: eMoney gets acquired by Fidelity Investments, Advent Software gets acquired by SS&C Technologies, and the SEC reveals troubling cybersecurity issues after its first round of broker-dealer and adviser examinations.

So get ready, FPPad Bits and Bytes begins now!

(Click to watch FPPad Bits and Bytes on YouTube)

Today’s episode is brought to you by Wealthbox CRM.  Version 1.7 just released with delectable features like two-way Google Calendar synchronization, support for popular email newsletter services, an integrated Facebook feed, and more!

Wealthbox CRM

Sign up for a free trial of Wealthbox today by visiting fppad.com/wealthbox

Here are this week’s stories of interest:

Fidelity Investments® Acquires eMoney Advisor from BusinessWire, and

Fidelity Acquires eMoney Advisor PFM Dashboard, Gets Financial Planning Software Thrown In? from Kitces.com

[This week’s top story that EVERYONE is talking about is eMoney’s acquisition by Fidelity Investments. Sources close to the deal cited a purchase price “north of $250 million” with a valuation around four times eMoney’s revenue. This deal marks the first time I can recall an institutional custodian taking ownership of a financial planning software provider. Nearly a dozen others that I listed on FPPad are all privately held with no custodial affiliation.

So the burning question is: What’s the future of eMoney? Executives from eMoney and Fidelity reaffirmed that the company will continue to operate independently, but have the financial backing of Fidelity to accelerate product development and growth. Now for me, eMoney seemed to be doing just fine on its own, always having a top spot in advisor technology surveys and having just released a big emX update two months ago, so did they really need to make a deal?

But on the other hand, if you read Michael Kitces’ take on Nerd’s Eye View, he believes Fidelity purchased eMoney primarily for its client-facing personal financial management tool, or PFM, that works a lot like Mint.com, and just happened to get eMoney’s financial planning software along with the deal. Robo-investment allocators are raising the stakes on client-facing dashboards, but buying eMoney for its PFM solution just doesn’t add up to me.

There are many other PFM options and client-facing dashboards out there like Aqumulate, Blueleaf, MoneyDesktop (MX), and even Personal Capital, who built their own, probably for a lot less than $250 million. So really, nobody knows what the future holds now that eMoney is under Fidelity’s ownership, and you can add me to the list of speculators that can only guess how this deal will influence your decision on what financial planning software you choose to use.] Fidelity Investments® announced today that it has agreed to acquire eMoney Advisor, a leading wealth planning software company, as part of Fidelity’s commitment to deliver an industry leading suite of innovative and meaningful tools and technology to its customers.

SS&C acquires rival Advent Software for $2.7 billion from IBS Intelligence

[Next up is news of another deal, as Advent Software is going to be acquired by SS&C Technologies for $2.7 billion. SS and who? I had never heard of them either until this week, because SS&C is primarily focused on institutions and enterprises, not independent RIAs.

So on the institutional side, the deal makes sense because SS&C is already the largest user of Advent’s Geneva solution, with around 2,400 internal users. But what about the Axys and Black Diamond solutions used by you, the independent adviser?

Bill Stone, SS&C’s chairman and CEO, said in a conference call that the company “did not see anything in Advent’s portfolio that we’d want to rationalise” and “killing a product is the last thing you want to do.”

Cough, TechFi.

So, Advent users, you’re in a little bit of limbo, too until we see this deal pan out, but I suspect not a whole lot will change in the near term. These are well-established companies with mature products that collectively have very high user retention.] The acquisitive US-based firm, SS&C, has expanded its presence in the wealth management software market with the all-cash acquisition of rival Advent Software.

Cybersecurity Examination Sweep Summary from SEC.gov

[And finally, the SEC released its first Cybersecurity Examination Sweep Summary this week, outlining key findings from over a hundred broker-dealer and RIA examinations. Here are my most important takeaways:

3 out of 4 advisers have been the target of cyber attacks, only 1 out of 5 advisers actually have cybersecurity insurance, and very few advisers know where to identify best practices on cybersecurity. Here’s a hint: THIS SHOW is one of them!

Clearly I should dedicate a show in the future exclusively to cybersecurity, but in the meantime, download my free guide on security at fppad.com/security and connect a vendor that specializes in RIA best practices like Itegria, Envision RIA, External IT, True North Networks, Right Size Solutions, and others.] OCIE’s National Examination Program staff, recently examined 57 registered broker-dealers and 49 registered investment advisers to better understand how broker-dealers and advisers address the legal, regulatory, and compliance issues associated with cybersecurity.

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

Wealthbox 1.7 – New Integrations & Enhancements from Wealthbox

Today we’re releasing Wealthbox CRM version 1.7 with a flavorful assortment of new add-ons and enhancements.

Advizr Announces Strategic Partnership with Blueleaf Portfolio Management and Reporting Software from BusinessWire

Advizr, a next generation financial planning software, today announced a strategic partnership with Blueleaf, a leading client engagement, data automation and reporting platform for advisors and clients.

Cambridge to have robo offering for advisers in 2016 from InvestmentNews.com

Independent broker-dealer Cambridge Investment Research Inc. plans to have a competitive robo-type offering that works in sync with its 3,000 advisers’ practices in 2016.

 

Watch FPPad Bits and Bytes for February 6, 2015

Watch FPPad Bits and Bytes for February 6, 2015

FPPad Bits and Bytes for October 31

What a wild week! Schwab announces its “free” (except for ETFs expense ratios) online automated investment solution, and then Wealthfront and Personal Capital proceed to secure a combined $114 million in additional venture capital. While I originally titled this update as It’s now a robo-eat-robo world, I’m sticking with the conventional FPPad Bits and Bytes update.

FPPad Quick Hits

  • Schwab introduces its ultra-low cost, dare I say “free,” Schwab Intelligent Portfolios online platform; investors only pay underlying ETF expenses
  • Wealthfront raises $64 million for a total of $129 million in venture capital, AUM is now $1.4 billion
  • Personal Capital raises $50 million of its own for a total of $104.3 million in venture capital
  • FINRA says it’s hiring a “handful” of people with cybersecurity expertise, so hopefully the new auditors will know a thing or two about holes in broker-dealer security

Schwab to offer free ‘robo-advice’ from Reuters

[Let me pose a few questions: Will Schwab’s ultra low cost investment service lure customers away from startups like Wealthfront, Betterment, Future Advisor, and others who charge anywhere between 15 and 40 basis points for automated investment management? Will investors pay a premium for modern web design and mobile app access to their investment portfolios? Schwab’s Intelligent Portfolio website looks really bad compared with ones published by the startups. It’s Hal, only with a blue eye instead of red. Because the color blue conveys trust, correct? Then, Is Schwab’s brand recognition significant enough to influence the “buying” decision of investors shopping around for low-cost investment services?] Charles Schwab Corp confirmed on Monday that it will introduce free automated investment plans picked by computer algorithms in the first quarter of 2015.

Wealthfront CEO Adam Nash explains his plans for that $100 million pile of cash from Pando.com

[Wealthfront has now raised $129 million in venture capital with its latest round of $64 million. Here are some more questions: Does anyone outside of Wealthfront know what they’re going to do with $100 million? From reading most coverage, I think the answer is no. Look, VC investors certainly want an exit from Wealthfront (and from all of their investments), and despite what Adam Nash says in this article about independence, Nash should expect some pressure from his investors should the company fail to meet expectations over the next several years. Nash cites independence from Wall Street. Ok. But Wall Street doesn’t care about Wealthfront because Wealthfront isn’t stealing any of Wall Street’s customers (yet). Wealthfront is till squarely focused on the Silicon Valley-startup-entrepreneuer-Millennial population and has yet to strongly deviate from that target market. At least, that is, until that market is saturated and loses momentum.] Wealthfront is rolling in cash. The company announced this morning that it raised $64 million in a Series D round led by Spark Capital. The funding follows closely on the heels of the company’s $35 million Series C in April of this year, a pool of capital that it has yet to even touch, and means that it now has more than $100 million in cash in its war chest.

Personal Capital Adds $50 Million As Digital Financial Management Bulks Up from TechCrunch.com

[Personal Capital is NOT a low-cost online investment service. It’s a startup that closely resembles the business model of a traditional RIA, but one that has built an impressive array of technology tools. Chief executive Bill Harris keeps stressing that the company is delivering digital wealth management, and the company does employ somewhere around 100 human advisers in Denver and Redwood City. Chances are, Personal Capital is not very different from most large RIAs managing around $1 billion, but they’re able to attract outside capital to support growth. One difference is that their technology is all built in-house, while I suspect the majority of your technology comes from your custodian or third-party software providers.] In the latest news, Personal Capital, a provider of electronically enabled wealth management services, said it has raised $50 million in a new round of financing.

Wall Street watchdog to bolster reviews of brokerage cyber security from Reuters

[Wait, so the people FINRA is sending TODAY to audit the security of broker-dealer firms AREN’T experts in technology? Better late than never to announce they’re going to hire a “handful” of examiners with technology expertise to look for security holes. But expect the SEC to do the same, as your exams are going to dive much deeper into the software, hardware, and security policies in place at your firm.] Wall Street’s industry funded watchdog plans to intensify its scrutiny of cyber security practices at brokerage firms in 2015 and is hiring technology savvy examiners to help boost its efforts, an official said on Wednesday.

FPPad Bits and Bytes for October 3

On today’s broadcast, Upside Advisor teams up with a high-profile RIA. Will this partnership do anything to slow the growth of the $(!#-advisers? Redtail CRM previews the new version of its popular CRM. Will the design and feature changes be enough to attract advisors that are using aging systems? And, broker-dealers aren’t turning a blind eye to technology. Find out which firms are investing heavily to boost the efficiency of their representatives.

So get ready, FPPad Bits and Bytes begins now!

(Watch FPPad Bits and Bytes on YouTube)

Today’s episode is brought to you by Wealthbox CRM. Version 1.6 is now available featuring automated workflows, templates for routine processes, and progress updates all on one screen!

Wealthbox CRM

Sign up for a free trial of Wealthbox today by visiting fppad.com/wealthbox

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

Upside Powers Ritholtz Wealth Management’s New Digital Offering, Called Liftoff from Upside Advisor

[First up this week is an announcement from Ritholtz Wealth Management, the New York RIA headed by The Big Picture blogger Barry Ritholtz and Josh Brown, aka The Reformed Broker, who released a new web-based offering to emerging clients called Liftoff. Liftoff is a white-labeled version of the $(!#-adviser solution, uh, ok, online investment solution from Upside Advisor, which I introduced to you back in episode 136.

For around 40 basis points, Liftoff provides automated asset allocation recommendations to clients who want to get started with investing, but don’t yet have enough assets to qualify for a one-on-one relationship with Ritholtz’s advisors. Upside Advisor is just the latest $(!#-adviser, oh, right, online investment provider to join this space, as they’re going up against competing solutions like Wealthfront, Personal Capital, Betterment, Learnvest, Guide Financial, JemStep, Orion Discover; I can’t keep them all straight!

So today you’re faced with a choice: will you sit on the sidelines to see how these low-cost automated solutions play out, or will you partner with a low-cost provider to offer an investment solution for your emerging clients?] Upside, a technology company providing a digital advisor platform to investment advisors, today announced a new partnership with Ritholtz Wealth Management (RWM).

Tech Review: Redtail’s New Edition from Financial Planning

[Next up is a review of Redtail CRM and its third major product update to its software called Project Tailwag. In his October column for Financial Planning magazine, Joel Bruckenstein gives a very favorable review of the redesign and feature enhancements to the industry’s most widely used CRM.

Users will soon have access to a clean, flat design that’s easier to use, and it’s also responsive, as it adjusts to screens of any size from desktops to smartphones. Contact records feature a timeline of client interactions, and important details like contact information and activities and workflows are just a single click away.

Whether you use Redtail CRM or an alternative solution such as Junxure, Salesforce, Wealthbox, and others, these are the types of features and functionality you’re going to need if you expect to cultivate meaningful relationships with clients and differentiate yourself from the $(!#-advisers, uh, I mean, online investment providers.] Redtail Technology just released a major upgrade to its popular CRM application. Dubbed Project Tailwag, this version of Redtail — only the third upgrade in the company’s 12-year history — offers a host of new enhancements.

Racing Ahead from Financial Advisor

[And finally, Joel Bruckenstien once again wraps up this week’s top stories with a technology update from the nation’s leading broker-dealers firms. In his column for Financial Advisor magazine, Bruckenstein highlights LPL Financial’s announcement of ClientWorks, the successor to the existing BranchNet platform that I covered in episode 137, an updated portfolio reporting solution and Client Center dashboard from Raymond James, updates to Commonwealth Financial Network’s Client Household 360 Dashboard and Practice360 business dashboard, and the AIG Advisor Group’s pending release of a mobile version of Salesforce and with integrated Salesforce work flows.

Clearly these broker-dealer firms are investing heavily in technology to boost the capabilities of their representatives, especially as they face increasing competition from all of the $(!#-adviser, ugh, online solutions out there.] The pace of technological innovation has never been greater. Independent broker-dealer firms continue to invest to keep up with the competition, offering advisors and end clients a better experience.

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

Risk Tool Smackdown: FinaMetrica vs. Riskalyze from Financial Planning

I tested myself using two of the more popular risk tolerance instruments: Riskalyze and FinaMetrica.

Smarsh Introduces Enhanced Archiving Support for Instagram from BusinessWire

Smarsh®, the leading provider of hosted archiving solutions for compliance and e-discovery, today announced the Smarsh Archiving Platform now offers enhanced support for Instagram.

Personal Capital integrates Zillow home estimates from Personal Capital

For those of you with property, Personal Capital has come out with a great new feature that will help you keep track of your real estate investments with Zillow.

 

 

Watch FPPad Bits and Bytes for October 3, 2014

Watch FPPad Bits and Bytes for October 3, 2014