lpl financial focus

#ItzOnWealthTech Bonus Episode: A Maniacal Focus on Advisor Convenience at LPL Financial

“We have an almost maniacal focus around making it easy to manage money, which means making our systems more convenient for advisors. If something is not convenient, why have it in there?”

— Rob Pettman, LPL Financial

“If we can get advisors really happy faster, why wouldn’t we just reorganize things to do that?”

— Kirby Horan-Adams, LPL Financial

Welcome to this special edition of the Wealth Management Today podcast! This episode was recorded live from LPL Financial’s Focus 2019 conference in beautiful San Diego, California. It was a fantastic conference with over 7,000 attendees, 4,000 of those being advisors, making it one of the largest conferences in the industry. I was lucky enough to get ahold of two of LPL’s senior executives, who are both responsible for different aspects of their technology platform. Those executives were Rob Pettman and Kirby Horan-Adams. We covered a lot of interesting stuff, so let’s get started!

This episode of Wealth Management Today is brought to you by LPL Financial. As the nation’s leading independent broker-dealer, LPL offers an integrated platform of proprietary technology, brokerage, and investment advisor services to more than 16,000 financial advisors and approximately 700 financial institutions. They also support more than 4,000 other financial advisors with customized clearing solutions, advisory platforms, and technology.

Topics Covered in this Episode

  • Discussing advisor sleeves and why LPL felt it was necessary to bring them into their product [02:20]
  • LPL functioning as a TAMP [04:48]
  • The relationship between MWP and UMA [08:20]
  • SMAs and advisor response to the released betas [10:49]
  • How the all-in-one approach guides LPL’s principles as they’re building out technology [12:04]
  • The four components of householding, as Rob sees them [13:58]
  • Digitizing the advisor workflow [18:23]
  • How LPL analyzed their account opening workflow, what they learned, and how they’re improving it [20:14]
  • LPL’s roadmap, and discussing their ability and process for offering advisors attending the conference the option to vote on different features for the future [24:12]
  • What’s coming with artificial intelligence and ClientWorks [27:05]
  • Advisors moving more towards outsourcing investment management [30:08]
  • Acquiring Advisoryworld, and the additional functionality and abilities that has brought to LPL [31:18]

Companies & People Mentioned:

Other Resources

If you are interested in more information about some of the topics Rob, Kirby and I discussed, these blog posts would be useful:

wealth management consulting

Complete Episode Transcript:

Rob Pettman

Craig: We are here live from the LPL Financial Focus 2019 conference and I have the pleasure of speaking with Rob Pettman, EVP of Product Strategy at LPL Financial. Hey Rob, welcome to the Wealth Management Today podcast. I want to talk to you a bit about some of the technology solutions you guys are bringing to market now. I was pretty pumped hearing some of the things you were talking about on stage this morning, I like some of the things you’re bringing to ClientWorks, your platform. Can we talk a bit about advisor sleeves and why you felt that was necessary to bring that into the product?

Rob: Yes. So just for context, the latest launch is called advisor sleeves, but it’s built on a platform that is called MWP, it’s our managed account platform. That would be the platform where advisors are selecting from a number of different portfolios and essentially outsourcing both the investment management and the trading to another strategist; they could choose from LPL Research, they could choose from BlackRock, any number of common strategists that might run a portfolio. Now why introduce the sleeve on top of that? A couple of things. I think formatically, there’s this broad shift of advisors moving to model space practices. And there’s a number of different benefits associated with that; there are efficiencies, there’s the ability to have better outcomes issues with the more concentrated models, easier to talk to investors, a host of different things.

Rob: But as we looked at MWP as a managed account platform, that was an all or nothing proposition where I’m essentially relinquishing control of investing. And for some advisors who are running models-based practices, that was not ideal for them. But there was another nuance here, where while they didn’t want to outsource the investment IP, they were willing to outsource the trading component, because it’s very hard to differentiate with trading. In fact for many, it’s an operational nuisance that gets in the way of them being more productive throughout their day. So that was the inspiration of how we thought about bringing in the advisor sleeve into the model wealth portfolios; it was about how do we enable advisors to outsource the trading of their models? And there’s a host of different benefits associated with that that we can cover and get into in more depth, but at a high level you’ve got the operational efficiencies; if I’m doing trading, that’s not going to happen, or if I have a trader and they call in sick, it’s going to take up my day..

Craig: “LPL never calls in sick.”

Rob: That’s right, that’s a tagline. But there’s another piece too, in that you’re leveraging a professional trading group. And if you’re trading ETS for example, they’re blocking your ETF trades and you’re getting best execution – you can’t do that by yourself. So a ton of different things.

Craig: That’s more of what we would think of as a TAMP function.

Rob: That’s right.

Craig: So when did LPL make the decision to become a TAMP?

Rob: I don’t think we actually had a, “we’d like to become a TAMP,” decision, I think it was more based on advisor needs. It was first, how do we solve the needs for advisors who don’t want to be money managers and want to outsource that component and focus on their relationship with their clients, and then the other piece that you heard is how do we solve for advisors who don’t want to do trading, right? Or there’s a latter part of how do we help advisors commingle their own portfolios with those of other strategists? This was the genesis or foundation for what we are teeing up as a modern advisory platform. If we look at the people who use it today, the unified managed account (or UMA) is something that you might be building; as you think about how we’re building it versus some of the ones out there, I think there’s a lot of folks that focus on the U in UMA, which is to put everything in a single account. And if that’s your guiding principle, you’re going to approach the build in a certain way. Our approach is a little bit different because it’s a little bit more needs-based, where we’re starting with how do we make managing money easier, and then by extension you get into these other functions.

Craig: It sounds like you’re making it more of what we used to call multi-strategy portfolios.

Rob: Yes, that’s right.

Craig: So you’re taking advisors that are already doing model trading and saying now you can mix this in, mix your own sleeve into your other model trading.

Rob: Yeah, that’s right. But again, I don’t necessarily think that this is a play to have people integrate strategists into the things that they’re doing. It can also be a pure-play as well. It’s very needs-focused and experience-focused, also in the manner in which that you do it. So if you look at the experience that we’ve built within the UI to create a model, it’s incredibly simple. We were just saying, if someone’s going to outsource trading to us, it’s got to be a remarkable experience; it has to be so easy that they just are going to be delighted when they do this. So the feedback that we’ve had is that it’s fantastic to do, it’s very easy. They’re doing in 20 minutes what might have taken them hours of their day. And then by extension, what we’ve created has the ability to sync up to other components within our technology stack. So as you look at what we’ve done with Advisoryworld and what we’ve built within what we call Model Hub, where advisors tell us what models to execute, that’s integrated all the way through. So I can find my model within my proposal generation system and show that model all the way through into the system.

Craig: So you say model hub, how many different model providers do you have?

Rob: I don’t actually know the exact number, it’s a lot. So if you’re thinking about the number of different strategists that we have available, maybe 20 different strategists and over 100 different models.

Craig: That advisors can pick from, and it flows right through into ClientWorks?

Rob: That’s right.

Craig: Yes, the model hub concept is something that every vendor has, whether they’re doing multi-strategy or UMA. They need to have that type of technology to bring the models in and flow that through.

Rob: The difference here though is that when I’m picking strategists, I’m looking at BlackRock, I’m looking at MFS or whomever, and then I see me.

Craig: Can advisors share their models amongst each other?

Rob: That’s a feature that we’re introducing later on in the year, advisors would be able to share it within their firms. So if we’re operating as a team for instance or if I’m in an institution, that would be it.

Craig: I can’t become my own manager, I can’t become a manager on your platform as an advisor, right?

Rob: No.

Craig: So from Model Hub into the advisor sleeve into UMA. When you’re talking about MWP, UMA is a subset of MWP, or are they parallel systems?

Rob: MWP is evolving into a UMA. Right now its funds and ETFs, and it’s just evolved into being able to have an advisors portfolio next to a strategist portfolio in the same account. And as we look at the roadmap, we’re expanding the different types of securities that we’re putting in there. So we’re going to go with equities and SMAs next, you’ll see that early next year. Then we’ll get into adding tax management services and other things, but we’re not going to stop there. We’ll actually add on annuities and alternative investments, because in some of those classes there are some really unique opportunities. Again, if my guiding principle is to make managing money easier, think about structured products and how that might react with a trading system.

Craig: I think about that all of the time. When you put your annuities into the account.. so this is something that’s been tried many times, in a UMA put an annuity in a sleeve so that it can be managed like the other SMAs. Will you be able to do that, or will the annuities still sit on the side and then be aggregated in the backend?

Rob: I can’t go into too many details on that just yet, that’s in development.

Craig: If I can make a suggestion, you want it inside if you can. Because that’s a lot of problems advisors have, is the swivel chair or screen toggle between their annuity screens and their wealth screens, or their insurance screens and the wealth screens. It’s a separate procedure and separate onboarding process, so the more you can consolidate that and make it one experience, the better.

Rob: And we would agree. Again, as you think about the sort of maniacal focus towards making managing money easier, you want to be able to get it all done in one place and have the most amount of convenience. If it’s not convenient to have it in there, why have it in there?

Craig: A maniacal focus. You’re maniacs!

Rob: We are maniacs!

Craig: So talk to me more about your SMAs. So you’ve got your smart beta SMAs now, and your average SMA was $160,000. And that’s low, which is a good thing, because most SMAs have a very high minimum and usually it’s for higher net worth, so you’re sort of enabling SMAs for mass affluent..

Rob: Yes, some of ours have minimums of $50,000.

Craig: Which is opening up these tools and strategies to people who didn’t have access to it.

Rob: That’s right, yes.

Craig: So how are advisors responding to the smart beta SMAs that you put out?

Rob: They love it. Right now they’re the top-selling SMAs on our platform; the experience has been so great. I talked about the cost element when I was on stage, so you’ve got that $160,000 and all in you’re at 35 basis points. So that would include the 5 bps that are the cost of the SMA, plus they’re ready for our platform fee. So very competitive, if I would compare that versus a smart beta ETF for instance. And then you have the cache of an SMA, or the experience that you get of knowing that you own Home Depot, right?

Craig: And the ability and the tax management. Are you charging for tax management?

Rob: We haven’t released tax management just yet. We have some basic functions through our overlay team, but as you think about proactive tax management, that’s something we haven’t introduced. Most likely we will charge for it, most firms do, but we haven’t gotten through the business model for that.

Craig: It’s a very popular feature, especially for higher net worth advisors who cater to higher net worth clients. Having a model or a manager sleeve that is tax-managed and tax optimized is a great differentiator and a great selling tool for them. Now I’m looking at the all-in-one versus the best of breed solutions. So how do you see.. obviously you’re looking at the all-in-one; you want LPL to be everything, which is a great move because I think there’s a trend more towards that. There’s so many apps and so many tools that advisors are having trouble figuring out what’s wrong or who to call, and if you have it all under one umbrella, you have one finger to point, right? So how does that guide your principles as you’re building out your technology?

Rob: So you think about our technology strategy, and you’re talking about the full tech stack under the umbrella of ClientWorks. We have principles around choice, we think choice is important. When you look at our model, we serve institutions, we serve RIAs, we serve a whole host of different types of financial advisors and practices, and they all have different needs and preferences. So when we think about the tech stack, we wanted to make sure that we had enough choice to serve all of those various constituents, but we didn’t want to have too much choice because there was an extra layer of value that we thought we could provide. So what we thought we would do was have what we call curated choice. And by having curated choice, we’d actually be able to create intuitive and linked outcomes and workflows throughout the tech stack. So you don’t want to try to sell your own cooking and try to tell everybody that it’s the best. We’ve got one CRM and you should go use that, or you can use that one over there, but this one has all of the workflows. We wanted to make it so that you have an option at our core that’s free, and then you have other options that you can pay for. Not a thousand, maybe two or three. But if you pick any one of those options that you pay for, they’re going to have all of those unique workflows that will be very similar to what you’d have with the core.

Craig: Okay. I want to be cognizant of time here. Can we talk a little bit about householding? Householding is a concept that more and more advisors are realizing is important to them, and to be able to manage at the household level rather than individual accounts. I already heard you talking about this, but I want you to explain it again if you could, the four components of householding as you see it.

Rob: Sure. We’ve broken it down into four components because if you don’t, it’s a hard problem to solve all at once. And I think just from an operational process of how you go about making householding happening in your platform, you need to go about doing this. Because when you do it, you realize that it’s actually sequential in your build. So the first part for us is this element of grouping, and allowing advisors to group accounts in the way that they want to.

Craig: And when the group the accounts, they can trade them as a group as well as report on them as a group?

Rob: We’re not there yet, but we’re talking about for reporting purposes first. Because there’s an element of who’s in the household, right? How do I define that? And I’ll just give you the overlay philosophy here. We want the advisor to be able to customize where they have freedom to customize, but where they don’t, we’re obviously going to restrict that. So trading, for example, the IRS dictates what a household is, right? You don’t have very much flexibility in that, right? But outside of that, we want to give advisors freedom of flexibility. For example, billing. I want to have freedom to choose how I’m going to lump these accounts together for billing purposes, right? But that may not link up with trading. So as you look at those four pieces as household grouping, that’s the first piece. We’re actually introducing that towards the end of this year. Following on the heels on that we’ll have household trading, but then also household supervision. We have different models that we serve; we have the RIA marketplace, so that part is fine on trading. We also have our corporate RIA, where we have folks that are underneath our RIA and we’re doing the supervision. And if we don’t have household supervision and an advisor’s doing household trading, there’s a disconnect there, right? Compliance is saying, hey this is not right. The advisor is saying I’m managing this for a household, why don’t you see this? Well, it’s because you don’t have household supervision.

Craig: So accounts with different social security numbers managed together, that’ll be their issue in compliance; two SSNs..

Rob: Not only that, they need to know that there is a household actually there, right? And that it’s being managed to a specific objective. And then the fourth part of this, the last piece is billing. We’ve had our homegrown billing system for a long time, and that’s something that we’re looking to replace. That’s obviously something that we need be very delicate with; there’s a lot of history in billing systems, and it’s one that you can’t mess up. But if you think about it sequentially, they all sort of fall into place. Because you’re allowing for the definition of householding, you’re enabling certain outcomes and supervision of it, and then your last piece is the acknowledgment of it, the billing, right? So that’s the ultimate build, and we’re on the journey. We’re targeting to get most of this done in 2020, and ultimately, this is all part of our evolution. We’re often referred to as a broker-dealer, but it’s transforming into a wealth management company.

Craig: You’re becoming the everything company, the Amazon of wealth. You’re a broker-dealer, a tech platform, a custodian, and a TAMP all rolled into one.

Rob: That’s right.

Craig: Great. Rob, thanks so much. I appreciate you speaking to me on the podcast.

Rob: Alright, thanks Craig.

Kirby Horan-Adams

Craig: And for the second half of our live Focus LPL conference podcast, I’m here with Kirby Horan-Adams, EVP of Management for LPL. Kirby, welcome.

Kirby: Thank you.

Craig: Thanks so much for taking the time here with all this hustle and bustle going on, it’s crazy. I’m sure you’re still psyched from this morning, when you were on stage in front of 7,000 advisors, giving them the great news of all the new stuff that’s coming down the pike. How’d you feel coming off stage this morning?

Kirby: Invigorated and exhausted. I think it comes with both, right? You get excited and you get the adrenaline rush, but also you’re like whoo, that was a lot.

Craig: I was expecting them to do the wave at some of your things you were telling them, they were so excited. So let’s talk a bit about digitizing the advisor workflow, that was one of the goals that we were talking about. What are some of the things you’ve done to help make that workflow less paper-intensive, less manual? What are some things you added to ClientWorks recently to do that?

Kirby: Sure, I think there’s a couple of things that we put in there. We think that the things an advisor does can be broken down into six workflows (we talk about those often), and just trying to make it so that those workflows run seamlessly for the advisors. Pre-populating the data so they don’t have to re-key things, hooking together a natural ordering of the different technology pieces so they can move from one to the other, grouping esignature documents so that we’re sending one package out to the client is something that we’re actively working on right now, just to try and make it so that the advisor wants to stay digital, can easily stay digital, and can easily work through these workflows simply and quickly.

Craig: You’re jumping into a new account opening, which is another topic I wanted to discuss, but on the digital side are there options on the esignature for clients? Or is it here’s our esignature package, this is what we’re going to be using?

Kirby: It’s one e-signature package, DocuSign is the underlying technology there. But what we’re working on doing right now is trying to create what we’re calling the shopping cart internally. Just like when you go shopping on Amazon or whatever it is, you dump all your things into the shopping cart and checkout once. We’re going to facilitate that as well. With the esignatures, you can do all the different things that you need to do for the client and put it in one package that gets sent out from your shopping cart, in order to make it easier for them.

Craig: That sounds great. And with the number of advisors you have, how many accounts do they open a day?

Kirby: They open 3,500 accounts a day.

Craig: That’s every day?

Kirby: Every day. Maybe twice on Sunday.

Craig: That’s my line! 3,500 accounts a day, that’s a lot of accounts per year. What are you guys doing to improve that workflow? How did you analyze it, what did you learn, and then how are you improving it?

Kirby: We went out and hovered over the shoulder of some of our advisors, because that’s the best way to see what’s holding them up in the workflow, why it’s not going so well, what are the stickies that they’re keeping on the side of their computer. And we learned a couple of things. One is we were requiring them to re-key data that we don’t want them to do; we want to pull it out of their CRM system or our CRM system, we want to be able to pre-populate things we already know about you if you’re an existing account holder, and the like. So all that information is being pre-populated. We also learned that they wanted to be a little bit more fluid in how they go about the new account opening process. Because if you and I are speaking, you might be telling me things that I want to automatically put into this system that if I make you go to linearly, then I’m going to have to ask you something again that you’ve already told me.

Craig: So enabling them to jump around?

Kirby: Absolutely. Be a little bit more maneuverable in what we have. We did take away some of the required data fields, because after a while you build up some things that were required that when you go back and ask, you don’t need them anymore. So we were able to eliminate about 30% of the fields that we were asking. I think the other key thing for us is trying to set this concept of what we’re calling preferences. There are certain things that we ask you every time you open an account: do you want check writing, do you want a credit card, do you want margin? So what’s going to be enabled for the advisors late this year or early next year is this preferences setting, where you go in as an advisor and say, I always answer a question this way so that should pre-populate for me as well. Right now we have firm-level pre-population on those preferences, but you can set your own. That should hopefully take out even some more licks or fields as well for the advisor, once they set that.

Craig: What would be cool is if the software could monitor how they do it and just set the preferences for them.

Kirby: That would be great.

Craig: That’s the next step. So with your account opening process, how long does it take an advisor to open an account on ClientWorks?

Kirby: Today? In the existing system, it’s just over nine minutes on average.

Craig: Which sounds good, you would think. I mean it’s not terrible, right?

Kirby: It’s not terrible, but of course we want it to be faster, right? We want to make it even easier, especially with things that we can see are pain points for them. Re-keying of data, some of those fields that they didn’t need, and the way that they go about the process. So by doing that we did cut it by about 60%. So the test advisors that are in the new tool right now are doing about four.

Craig: Which is crazy fast. So when this gets rolled out to the entire advisor force, it’ll save 4 million minutes?

Kirby: Correct.

Craig: Which is how many years?

Kirby: Eight years.

Craig: Eight years. Eight years of time will be saved. And that’s big, because time is money and advisors only have so many hours in a day.

Kirby: Right? And we need to help drive the efficiencies so they can go out and focus on growth and focus on additional value propositions for their clients.

Craig: And I have to say that this is definitely a wealth management crowd, because that got applause. When you told them we’re going to cut it from nine to four, they were going wild. Like, what will I do with all my free time? But it’s true. And if they’re coming here to beautiful San Diego and spending a couple of days with you, they want value; they want to come away with something.

Kirby: They do. They’re here to learn and understand what we’re doing. And I think they’re really excited that we have all these new capabilities to show them and talk to them about, what we have today and what is on the roadmap for tomorrow, to bring them on the journey with us.

Craig: And I have to say Kirby, you are an excellent podcast guest, because you keep teeing up my next question. Roadmap is what I want to talk about. I love the part on the exhibit floor where you have the roadmap features broken out in the Account View section, which is your client-facing portal. And you’re giving the advisors who are here the ability to vote on different features. So tell me about that and how that works.

Kirby: Account View is our client portal and we are in the process of launching Account View 2.0, which has a desktop, tablet, and mobile presence. And we’re putting out a core application, where clients can see all of the key components that they need; what’s going on in their account, they can see their goals that they might’ve set with their advisor and the like, but there’s not a lot of a transaction there right now if you will. It’s very one-way. So as we roll out this core, we’re going to start moving into transactions, and we want to understand what the advisor wants to enable for their clients. And we have about eight to ten different things out there that we ask them, what should we focus on for you? And it’s funny to see what’s getting the wins and what’s not getting the wins. A lot of them want to see the ability for a client to request money movement, and a lot of them want the client to be able to do account aggregation, so that they can pull in information from what they have at another broker-dealer or their bank. So those are the two big leaders down there on the board right now. And that’s great for us, because we can take that back and that’s what we’ll focus on, right? We’ll focus on enabling move money and account aggregation early in 2020. We’ll get the teams focused on that as soon as we deploy this first round, which will be going to clients starting next month.

Craig: I was talking to advisors every chance I’d get here, and they seem to like the process; they like feeling that they’re involved or feeling that their voices are being heard by LPL. LPL is such a big place, and the fact that you can say, you’ve got a voice here even though you’re one of X thousands of advisors, we want to hear from you.

Kirby: And what’s helpful there, especially on something like this, is we have these ten components; we’re going to deploy them. If we can get happy people faster, why wouldn’t we just reorganize things to do that? It’s great feedback for us and it’s great when we talk to advisors who question why we did something. We can just say, here’s the board from Focus, would you like to see what people actually said?

Craig: It’s crowdsourcing in effect. There’s a great book by Jeff Jarvis called, “What Would Google Do?” And this is what Google would do if they ran a wealth management firm; they would ask the advisors, tally up the votes, and that’s what we’re doing, right? So you’re in that zone. Let’s talk about one of my other favorite topics, which is artificial intelligence. You mentioned this on stage, so tell me some of the things that are coming. Whet the appetite of advisors – what’s coming with artificial intelligence and ClientWorks?

Kirby: So when we talk about artificial intelligence, I’ll be frank with you, some of them get a little freaked out about it. So what we have to stress to them is what we’re going to use artificial intelligence and machine learning for is to allow them to focus on what they need to, and let the machines do the things that are remedial, if you will. They can look at what the performance report is of a particular account and see the same things, but why don’t we have someone write it for you? Someone being a computer. We have a couple of different places that we’re looking at using it. We’re first going to use it in our proposal generation system, that’s the Advisoryworld proposal generation system. We’re working on evolving what that is and how it appears in ClientWorks; as we’re pulling data back into ClientWorks, we’re going to use machine learning to put some bullet points there about, here’s what this graph is telling you, you are getting a higher return and less risk in this new proposal.

Craig: So adding explanatory text, but it’s customized to what the client’s results are?

Kirby: Absolutely. And it’s easy, right? It’s easy to do it, and it’s something that the advisor doesn’t even have to do and it’s a nice takeaway for the client, or they can use it to actually facilitate the conversation. We’ll also start using artificial intelligence within what we’re calling Meeting Manager, which is pulling together a variety of different documents, as well as calendaring meetings for our advisors. And a key piece of that is as these documents get pulled together, how can we use machine learning to start putting together those bullet points. Similar to what you’re doing with the proposal generation, but we can do it more on a portfolio level, maybe backward-looking.

Craig: Would you also maybe advise the advisor which clients they should be meeting with, at which times of the year?

Kirby: Absolutely, sure. That would definitely come up within the Meeting Manager application. Then the other place that we’re going to use it is in Model Hub, which I know you and Rob talked about. And what we can do in there is as we put more analytics and the like in there, we can start proposing things to help them make better decisions.

Craig: And you’re already a fiduciary, you’re already a corporate RIA, you’re already a TAMP, so making these recommendations is not a big lift for you.

Kirby: It’s simple for us. We have recommended lists that already exist, it’s just pre-populating them.

Craig: More advisors are taking what we call the “rep as pm” model. You added advisor sleeves, so there’s definitely a demand, but do you see advisors moving more towards outsourcing investment management, or are they still feeling that’s their value add?

Kirby: We definitely are seeing more advisors move into centrally managed. As you look the way the sales components are breaking down, we’re seeing a fair amount of them moving that way. I think you’ll still always have the folks who want to do it themselves; that’s their value proposition and we’ll always support that, but we want to make sure that we can allow them to outsource at whatever level they want.

Craig: Because you can’t beat the market every year. If you’re picking the stocks and you’re not beating the market, you can’t fire yourself, but if you have a third party manager you can always fire them.

Kirby: And the way we’re looking at centrally managed is this allows them to mix and match themselves with someone else easier. So if I’m starting to learn I’m not doing well in certain market conditions, which our Advisoryworld proposal tool will show them, we can then say, you might need some downside protection in here. And you can put your model next to a downside protection model within MWP.

Craig: Speaking of Advisoryworld, I thought it was great that you guys bought them. I’ve known their product for over 10 years, I’ve evaluated it many times. Buying them and being able to tightly integrate them into ClientWorks, what was some of the functionality that you now have available that you didn’t have before?

Kirby: This is definitely a road mapping journey for us right now. What we’ve enabled is we’re sending ClientWorks data over to Advisoryworlds, meaning you get all your client and prospect data, as well as your holdings; if it’s an existing account holder, it flows right over there. What we’ll also be sending over in a couple of weeks is all of the models that an advisor might create. So today in Advisoryworld, if it’s a centrally managed model, if it’s in the models that Rob was talking about, a BlackRock or a J.P. Morgan or an LPL Research model, those are there for the advisor to easily propose. But what isn’t there is what I’ll call the advisor-created models, which come from a variety of different sources. Either that advisor sleeve model, or just something that they’ve created to do trading within ClientWorks themselves. Those will be going over, so that they can easily propose their model within the system.

Craig: Whereas before they had to re-key everything, which stinks.

Kirby: It does stink. They had to re-key client-level data as well as their models, and that can be error-prone. So getting away from that. And then what the team is working on right now, and we’ve gotten great feedback on it from the advisors who we’ve seen, is before the end of the year bringing the API back into ClientWorks. So allowing us to create what we’re calling a proposal tab, a place within the client record where we can keep track of all their proposals. And we will show them to allow the advisor to digitally demonstrate the output of their proposal, they can go full screen on ClientWorks, and walk them through what it’s showing, this is what we’re proposing, and if you like it click this button and we’ll go open the new account right away. So we think when we get that full circle of data out of ClientWorks into Advisoryworld and back, that’s when we think we’re going to get some of the cool magic from it. Because then the advisor has a continuous workflow and never has to re-key.

Craig: Yeah, the full circle. It’s like the circle of life, this is the circle of advice.

Kirby: Exactly.

Craig: Well, that is awesome. I think that was a nice wrap. Kirby, thanks so much for being here. Appreciate your time.

Kirby: Thanks for having me.



The Wealth Tech Today blog is published by Craig Iskowitz, founder and CEO of Ezra Group, a boutique consulting firm that caters to banks, broker-dealers, RIA’s, asset managers and the leading vendors in the surrounding #fintech space. He can be reached at