#ItzOnWealthTech Ep. 41: Everyone Wants a Unicorn Experience

“What we’re trying to do is help firms streamline the development process so they can create unique experiences at scale. Think of it as personalization at scale, not just for large firms, but leveling the playing field for smaller firms like RIAs to be able to create a unicorn experience. Paint the picture, if you will, of their user experience at a much more manageable cost.”

— Oleg Tishkevich, Invent.us

I spent almost an entire week at the T3 Advisor Conference and I can safely say that it was hands down the best T3 of the ten or so that I have attended!  So much learning, lots of great speakers and panels sessions, some ground-breaking announcements, and of course, terrific networking with people from across the industry.

This is the second of three episodes from T3 that we’re put together for our Wealth Management Today podcast by Ezra Group. We had so many interviews. 24 to be exact!  Too many for a single episode, so we’re compiling them into three, that’s really the “Best of T3”!

This week, our first group of industry experts include Tricia Haskins from Fidelity Institutional, Matthew Radgowski from Morningstar, Robb Baldwin from TradePMR, Charles Reiling from Coastal Equities, Craig Cintron from TD Ameritrade, Kartik Srinivasan from Charles Schwab, and Oleg Tishkevich from Invent.us.

Now hit the Play button!

This episode of Wealth Management Today is brought to you by Ezra Group Consulting. If your firm is evaluating new technology or looking to improve your current wealth platform, you need to contact Ezra Group. Don’t spend another day using technology that doesn’t offer an elegant user experience. Your advisors and clients deserve better and you can deliver it to them with the help of Ezra Group.

Topics Covered in this Episode

  • Advice Stack for Advisors & Fidelity’s Integration Xchange with Tricia Haskins
  • Morningstar on ESG Investments with Matthew Radgowski
  • The Impact of the Schwab-TD Merger with Robb Baldwin
  • Advisors Are Tired of Hearing “No” with Charles Reiling
  • RIA Technology Trends with Craig Cintron
  • Evolution of APIs with Kartik Srinivasan
  • What it Means to be Cloud Native with Oleg Tishkevich

Companies Mentioned

Related Articles

Complete Episode Transcript:

Craig: Oleg Tishkevich saw a problem. After running his first company, financial planning vendor FinanceLogix for 16 years, he realized his programers were spending 25% of their time just integrating with other platforms. He knew there was a better way, and after selling his firm to Envestnet in 2015, he started building a second company to solve this issue. I spoke to Oleg about his new startup, Invent.us, and how they’re revolutionizing the way wealth management firms develop software. Highlights from his interview as well as six other industry leaders are in this episode recorded at the T3 Advisor Conference.

Craig: I’m glad you all make it here to this episode of the WM Today podcast, I’m your host, Craig Iskowitz and I run a consulting firm called Ezra Group. We help wealth managers, asset managers and WealthTech vendors make better business and technology decisions. And we have another exciting episode for you that was recorded live at the T3 Advisor Conference in San Diego, California. Palm trees and ocean breeze right outside the Marriott Marquis hotel. Where over 800 people were consuming wealth management technology information for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Or at least that’s the way it seemed. During that time recorded 24 interviews and we just couldn’t squeeze them all into just one episode. So we made three. This is number two, in case you missed the first one, it was episode number 40 and you can go back and listen to it anytime. But on this episode, the second of three, we have a terrific lineup of industry insiders who are sharing their thoughts and trends on the latest in wealth management tech. You will hear in order, Tricia Haskins from Fidelity, Matt Radgowski from Morningstar, Robb Baldwin from TradePMR, Charles Reiling from Coastal Equities, Craig Cintron from TD Ameritrade, Kartik Srinivasan from Charles Schwab, and last but certainly not least, Oleg Tishkevich from Invent.us. Now remember to give us a like and a five star review on iTunes if you’re enjoying the content that we’re bringing to you. And now onto those T3 highlights.

Advice Stack for Advisors & Integration Xchange with Tricia Haskins

Craig: First up on the program is Tricia Haskins, Vice President of Digital Strategy and Platform Consulting at Fidelity Institutional. She’s going to talk a bit about the advice stack for advisors, some trends that she’s seeing in the market as well as the Integration Xchange that Fidelity is launching.

Tricia: So the advice value stack is the way that we look at how advisors interact with and provide value to their end clients, right? So there are four components to the advice value stack, and basically it looks like a pyramid. So at the base, at the foundation of that advice value stack is managing the money. And this is what advisors have historically been focused on, solely focused on. But what we’re seeing is that as customers’ needs are changing, when the changing consumer is something we should talk about is that advisors need to move up to planning. So how can advisors help their clients achieve their goals? So this is, can I retire, can I send my kids to school? And so on and so forth. The next level of the advice value stack is helping people be free from worry. So answering the question, if I lose my job, will I be okay if someone, my parents get sick, will I be okay? So how can I be free from worry, and then at the top of that value stack is how can you help your clients achieve fulfillment? And what this means is what is most important to these clients and how can you as advisor help them, for example, to leave a legacy or to achieve their life’s dream? And there’s something really special about that that requires both the foundation of managing the money, well planning goals, but also it requires a depth of relationship between the advisor and the investor. And obviously high EQ and all that good stuff. So I mean the first one, there’s a lot of socioeconomic tremors going on and we all know this the nature of work is changing, there’s almost 60 million soloists in the US and these aren’t the typical what we think of the gig order.

Craig: And do you see that as a bad thing or just a change?

Tricia: It’s a change. It’s neither good nor bad, it’s simply a trend. And then there’s obviously the impact of people living longer and what does that mean for the advisor and their relationship with the client? Speaking of the relationship with a client, the trend of the changing customer. Over 60% of the people. And I know you’re one of these, feel like they don’t have enough time to do the things that they want to do. That’s important. How can advisors leveraging technology, give people back the time that they need to do the things they want.

Craig: Do you have an example of how they can do that?

Tricia: I do. How can you help take away some of the burden of things like sharing information, onboarding, signing documents. I mean that’s sort of at the most fundamental level, but there’s a lot of key things that advisors can do to help do that and make life easier for folks.

Tricia: Integration Xchange is what we call a digital store, where you can go and understand from Fidelity both what are all the various third parties that Fidelity integrates with, over 175 out there. And the depth to which we integrate, whether it’s data feeds, single sign on, onboarding and so on and so forth. The point being is that we’ve developed Integration Xchange to enable firms and advisors to create their experience tailored to their end customer. And we’re really excited that they now have the ability to do self service as well. So as they’re doing the development, what once took a number of days to test out to see if the code was working, they can do right away using the testing functionality and Integration Xchange. So going back to the people not having time to do the things that they want, this is one of the ways that we’re allowing that. Going into Integration Xchange, you have all the lists of the API’s, you have everything you can frame in, you can link to all the documentation there. There’s sample code in there and then the ability to test we’re really excited about because this is going to enable firms to create a tailored experience which is what all this is about. So again, moving up the value stack and better serving your end clients, doing the things that you as an advisor or a firm need to focus on and then allowing the technology to do the rest. Giving yourself back time, giving your clients back time, because now they’re interacting with you in a more seamless manner. It’s really exciting.

Morningstar and ESG Investments

Craig: Next up is Matthew Radgowski, Head of Advisor Solutions from Morningstar and I asked him about some of the research that his firm’s doing on ESG investments and how they can make them more available to investors.

Matthew: We’ve begun to do some research, did a study last year in 2019 whereby 72% of investors said they have a medium to high preference for ESG factors to be considered.

Craig: 72% percent.

Matthew: 72% yeah, 46% actually said medium high to high. So a good concentration of investors that want this and so I think we need to start thinking about it not as, again, a highly bespoke portfolio construction method, which it is, but move it forward to a preference.

Craig: Something everybody can access.

Matthew: You got it. And what does that require though? That requires data, right? So information about ESG and we have a partnership with Sustainalytics and we’ve begun to gather information data and research, but then you need the tools to deliver it. So through Advisor Workstation, Morningstar Direct creating access to both individual investments, ESG characteristics, as well as portfolio analysis to say when the portfolio is complete, what does it look like from an ESG point of view?

Craig: How to get the data into the system so they can run criteria, run screens and find the exact solution for your clients.

Matthew: That’s right. And we’re also beginning to do work and we have a prototype out there around an ESG preference tool. So much like the old risk profiling questionnaires, you can actually ask –

Craig: So it’s an ESG profiling. Socially conscious profiling.

Matthew: That’s exactly right. So using some of our behavioral finance techniques as well as just gathering information about the investor’s views towards it, the investor and the advisor are able to have a conversation much like they would about other preferences like goals and risk tolerance and say, how do you want ESG expressed in your portfolio? And so then again, we’re using that as a baseline and then also on the back end engaging with model providers, obviously models are certainly a topic d’jour. How can we actually bring that model information, fund information into our tools truly to create that accessibility for all investors.

Craig: I then asked Matt about the Model Marketplace that they announced at the previous Morningstar investor conference last year, and some of the things we’re going to see from Morningstar in the future around advisor models.

Matthew: I would actually describe the current situation in the model space as a bit chaotic, right? I think you have many asset managers that have flooded the space. They’re spending considerable amounts of money resourcing from portfolio consultants to help advisors build portfolios, to marketing efforts, digitally enabled, to getting out there and retooling their distribution teams to focus on these models. Now you have home offices that have asset allocation views in many cases or just advisors that have asset allocation views. So again, there’s a lot of people active in this space and so a lot of chaos. And what we’re trying to do is quite frankly, try and help bring some order to it, right? So we’re changing it up and you’ll see some updates to our data gathering and collection techniques in March and April. That will start to both separate models as a category of investments within our data, as well as gather attributes about those investments around objective. For instance, income versus capital preservation versus capital appreciation.

Craig: So are these new attributes?

Matthew: New attributes, attributes of those models so we can begin then to surface those in the tools.

Craig: So what’s the whole idea behind Morningstar’s Goal Bridge financial planning tool? How is it going to fit in with the rest of the infrastructure? Where do they see it going in the future?

Matthew: So the whole idea of Goal Bridge is to create tighter alignment to the outcome, the goal that’s gathered, prioritized, and described by the investor with that investment portfolio. And as part of that, we made a baseline assumption that in many instances it would in fact be a model that’s going to be actually utilized to implement. And so I would say in terms of its use, there’s many great tools out there that provide very sophisticated deep dive tax estate.

Craig: Sure.

Matthew: Comprehensive financial planning.

Craig: A lot of them are here today.

Matthew: A lot of them are here, they had wonderful tools. We look at ourselves or see ourselves riding alongside that. Right? So a plan that’s very focused on the goals, very straightforward, quick to gather data, get the plan. So I’d say on the sophistication scale, maybe a bit lower down that scale, but again, meets the needs of a large population of both advisors and investors.

Impact of the Schwab-TD Merger with Robb Baldwin

Craig: My next guest is CEO of TradePMR, Robb Baldwin. I asked Robb to share some of the challenges he sees facing our industry today.

Robb: Wow. Well this is the year of transitions for thousands of advisors, which is crazy. We’ve never seen this ever happen before in the entire RIA timeframe that has been around for about 25 years now. So to see what’s about to occur is reminiscent really of what has happened in some of the cases in the past. Such as TradePMR, my firm was founded out of a bad merger and when a TD Waterhouse bought Jack White back in the day, it became a catastrophic situation for me as an advisor. And when some of my data didn’t transfer, some of my assets didn’t transfer properly, the cleanup process, the due diligence that I needed to do to make sure all my clients were made whole after the fact, were things I wasn’t prepared for. So I started TradePMR so that that would never happen to me again, nor happening to any advisor that ever did business with TradePMR. So that’s been really our motto for the last 22 years of being in business.

Craig: And Robb is not shy with his opinion, especially about other custodians. I asked him what he thought of the Schwab-TD merger and how it’s going to impact advisors.

Robb: So now with the Schwab-TD with another 7,000 advisors having to go through a transition of any sort, it’s going to be a real challenge. When I merged and there were 500 advisors at Jack White, it was tough to compete with the other 500 advisors for attention after I had issues. I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like with 7,000 advisors fighting for the same attention, not just with possible custodial issues, but with software issues. And that’s something that still has not been discussed. Every single advisor needs to be aware that they need to do due diligence with their software providers because both small software providers and large software providers are going to have issues they have to address. This was never in their budgets to have to reconfigure their systems to adapt to a new custodial platform for thousands of their current customers. Many of these firms that are smaller, they put their entire budget, effort and time for year to build their software integrations to TD’s.

Craig: Right.

Robb: And now they have to figure out how to take those clients that they’ve signed up in the last couple of years and transition them to a new platform with a whole new integration. So if you’re an advisor, you need to make sure if you have a small provider, are they properly funded?

Craig: I was pretty sure that Schwab said that TD clients would not have to repaper accounts when they moved over to Schwab custody. But I posed that question to Robb to get his opinion.

Craig: I think Schwab said they won’t have to repaper, is that possible?

Robb: In my mind, no. I think they’re referring to repapering as in new account documents, but I don’t suspect that Schwab will continue to use TD Bank in any way, or the TD beneficiaries platform. I think they’re going to have to transition the IRA beneficiaries as well as some of the ACH documents and so forth to Schwab eventually, they may not do it initially. They may carry both sides for a while, but I have a feeling they’re going to end up having to do consolidation because in every merger you’ve got to consolidate in order to make the benefit worth the merger.

Craig: And I know that a lot of tech vendors already support both Schwab and TD Ameritrade as custodians. So I asked Robb why would it be so much work for these vendors if they already support both custodians If clients are switching from one to the other, why is there so much work involved?

Robb: Yes, but just because you’ve had a big software provider who has integrations with each one, that doesn’t mean that the transition from one platform to another is going to be smooth. Every custodian has different back offices and they have different APIs and different connections. You just don’t switch from A to B quickly and efficiently to make sure that the data imports are exactly the same. That’s a challenge. It’s something that every single software provider is now looking at their budgets and going, we have to ramp up, we’re going to have to hire, and we’re gonna have to make sure this transition is smooth. And these are items that weren’t on their list for 2020.

Craig: So it’s a job creator for the economy.

Robb: It really is, yes.

Craig: It could be a good thing, bad for the advisory firms, but good for the economy.

Robb: Well, it’s yet to be determined whether it’s good or bad for the advisors, but we’ll see. Yeah. After the transition happens, we’ll know.

Advisors Are Tired of Hearing “No” with Charles Reiling

Craig: We’re going to switch things up now from our lineup of custodians, back to back to back custodians, with a broker dealer. It’s Charles Reiling, the CEO of Coastal Equities and I asked him for his 30-second elevator pitch and some of the trends he’s seeing in requests from advisors these days.

Charles: Coastal Equities is an independent broker dealer. We’re located in Wilmington, Delaware. We have approximately 120 advisors that we serve, 20 full time staff members that support those advisors. The firm has been around for 31 years, and my management team and I acquired the firm 10 years ago because we wanted to build a better offering.

Craig: Something Charles mentioned to me before we started the interview was advisors he talks to are tired of hearing constant “no” to all the requests. So I asked him what things he’s hearing that advisors are hearing “no” to and how is Coastal Equities changing that?

Charles: We think advisors are demanding a higher level of service. We think technology has been an equalizer as I’ve said, and that our role is really to assist our advisors in ensuring that what they do on a daily basis is legal, ethical, it’s compliant with the applicable rules, and then it’s get out of the way. It’s to support that business model they choose not one that we impose on them.

Craig: What are some of the things that advisors are looking for in a broker dealer?

Charles: As firms grow for scale purposes, they need to sort of bring their compliance and regulatory oversight down to the lowest common denominator. So it gets harder and harder as a firm gets bigger for it to deliver a customized level of support service to an advisor. And let me give you an example. We had two advisors recently come to us and say that it had been a goal of theirs to act as advisors to a private fund, put their own hedge fund together. I think most firms would very readily just nix that. What we did was we went out, we sought a provider that can put together a turnkey program for an advisor to do the documentation, the audit, everything that was necessary to set up their own private fund. And we put that relationship together, we made that introduction to the advisor and it’s going very well. So without talking about the wisdom of whether or not we think an advisor should do that, that’s not really our role. Our role is to help them do whatever they want to do that is legal, ethical, and compliant and then get out of the way.

Craig: How exactly is a small broker deal like Coastal, staying ahead of all the competition? There’s lots of firms out there vying for the same set of advisors, breakaways, RIA practices. Let’s hear what Charles has to say about that.

Charles: Well, I think we’ve been the beneficiary to some of that. We’ve certainly seen a consolidation in the number of firms out there, yet we haven’t seen a reduction in the number of advisors. Right. So what that means is there are more firms consolidating obviously into bigger firms, and we think our sweet spot is in catering to those advisors that want that smaller firm experience.

Craig: They want a more curated experience.

Charles: Exactly. They want better service, and as a smaller firm, we can deliver that.

Craig: So Charles where can advisors who are listening find more information about your firm?

Charles: They can certainly email us at info@coastal-one.com. Our website is www.coastal-one.com. And I will give them my cell phone number.

Craig: Be careful with that, you’ll be getting calls.

Charles: I am happy to do it is on my business card. and that is the level of service that we provide. So my cell phone number is (856) 381-7150 and advisors are free to use that number and give me a call.

Craig: You heard it here folks, you’re free to call.

RIA Technology Trends with Craig Cintron

Craig: And we’re back to more custodians on this episode and it’s Craig Cintron, Head of Institutional Technology Consulting at TD Ameritrade. And I asked him to talk to me about his technology consulting group, what the makeup of that is, who’s in it, and some of the trends he’s seeing from RIAs.

CraigC.: Yeah, that’s a great question. So our institutional technology consulting is part of the broader institutional consultant group where we have practice management consultants, technology consultants, and then also managed account consultants. So today there’s roughly 10 technology consultants and we work with existing clients, and we work with new clients on the TD Ameritrade platform to help them better understand TD Ameritrade technology, and then also the vast amount of third party technology out there. So a lot of the trends we’re seeing is there’s still a number of advisors who want to build their own technology stack, but there’s also a number of advisors that would like to just have a very simple platform that has everything in its place. I think some of the larger advisors are also looking to build their own platforms and have their own dashboard and pull in data from a variety of sources. So those are three separate instances and my team helps advisors navigate all those different options.

Craig: So what are firms really looking for when they launch digital initiatives? Are they expecting clients just flock to them or they just using it for children of their existing clients or something else?

CraigC.: Well I think on the RIA side we’ve talked with a number of firms who wanted to launch a digital initiative and then they started down that process, we went through a consulting engagement with them, and then ultimately they decided to put the pause on it because maybe they weren’t able to build it the way that they wanted to, or maybe they weren’t seeing the traction out of it. Perhaps they didn’t see the value in actually building out that solution for their clients. So what we’re actually seeing them do after we ask a bunch of questions up front, it turns out that really all they’re looking for most of the time is a slick account opening. They still want to manage the investments in house. They still want to have control over the trading, but they’re really looking for an easier way for the clients to open up accounts or if they’re going to be opening accounts on their own, they can do that directly from a lot of CRMs and portfolio management solutions out there. So what’s interesting is when they ask us about digital advice, we start to ask them a bunch of questions and you peel back the onion and it turns out that they have a lot of the tools already and maybe they were just sidetracked by some of the advertising out there.

Craig: As head of technology consulting for one of the big four custodians, Craig talks to a lot of RIAs, so I asked him to share with us some of the recommendations they’re making to RIAs.

CraigC.: Some of the recommendations we’re making is really to understand who the audience is, who your clients are. Are you trying to go after these checking and savings clients that a large bank is? Are you looking to create a digital advice solution for the next generation of your current clients’ clients? Some firms have opened up a separate RIA just to have this digital advice and maybe they’d custody those assets somewhere else, and that might become a difficult conversation if you want to move that money to your current custodian.

Craig: And integration seems to be the name of the game today. So what is TD Ameritrade doing with integrations and what are some of the benefits of integrating more deeply with a custodian?

CraigC.: Yes, and when we think about deeper integrations and we think about our Veo One platform that brings a lot of those disparate third party technologies together, some of the providers that we work with have built widgets that could just be embedded directly in the Veo One dashboard so that you can see current performance, you can see the workflows and opportunities that you might have from your CRM. You can quickly add a note to your CRM and you can pull in and customize a lot of that data. So it’s really just having more information available from those third party systems right at your fingertips and the ability to customize that. Not every provider is taken advantage of that, so that is something that we’ll focus on for the rest of 2020.

Evolution of APIs with Kartik Srinivasan

Craig: And rounding out our selection of custodians today is Kartik Srinivasan, Managing Director of Digital Advisor Solutions at Charles Schwab. I asked Kartik, what are you seing changing in tech? What are you seeing changing from his first T3 now, and a bit about the evolution of APIs.

Kartik: We’re here at the T3 conference where the number of technology firms has grown over the years. I remember 15 years ago was my first T3, and it was a very small community back then and since then we’ve seen tremendous growth in the number of technology firms in terms of the capabilities they offer advisors, and also the interconnectedness between them. And how those firms connect with each other is typically these days via API APIs. Back in the day, it was a lot of data passing back and forth manual files. Now, thankfully because of technology progress –

Craig: The good old days, manual files, flat files, FTP.

Kartik: Yep. We still do that and it’s a very popular form of integration, especially for rich datasets for powering portfolio reporting systems, but API is the name of the game. Now, APIs are the fastest, more secure way of connecting to systems and Schwab offers a full slew of APIs for the third party community. You’ve seen a lot of evolution of the APIs over the last couple of years, it’s gone from more of a real time data access to more transactional taking actions workflows. For instance, we have a digital account open API that just makes that whole client onboarding and account opening process much easier. It can be kicked off from CRM system or portfolio management system, comes into Schwab does all the realtime NIGO checks so that the not in good order rate has fallen from 30% or more, which is terrible in our industry to in the low single digits using our digital process.

Craig: Just because of the digital account opening.

Kartik: Exactly.

Craig: What is one of the most important things about account opening that in Kartik’s opinion that advisors need to be concerned about?

Kartik: You want that experience to be good and not just a good user experience but also secure. Cybersecurity is top of mind for advisors and for Schwab, and so we want a solution that is not only a great experience for the advisor and the end client, but also provided the best security. With our account opening process, it’s all electronically authorized, there’s a multi-factor authentication that goes into it so the client can be comfortable knowing that their data is secure and the accounts had been opened securely.

Craig: Exactly how many firms, vendors, clients are using the Schwab API’s to integrate custodial data with their systems and applications?

Kartik: We have 85 firms that are connected with our integrations. Now that’s across our single sign on offer, our API integration, as well as our trading integration, we bucket those together, and that number is growing. We’ve grown the number of integrated products by over 30% in the last year and we’re seeing a lot of growth, a lot of interest in our integration capabilities, certainly driven by the great number of APIs and digital actions and workflows that we’ve come out with in the last year.

Craig: What are some of the trends in APIs? What’s the biggest thing you’re seeing? Who’s using the most APIs? What’s something that you’re going to be doing at Schwab to really help firms better integrate their data?

Kartik: One trend, and this also is almost a pain point, is just the proliferation of client portals and that’s certainly a challenge for advisors. It’s a great thing that we’ve seen so many new technology companies out there, but each of them offers a portal and advisors have to pick and choose on which portal do I direct my clients to. I’ve seen some advisor websites that say, Hey, for your financial plans, click this portal or your reports, click this portal, and by the way, for all of your custodial statements, go to these portals. That is not a very good end client experience. So what we’re doing to tackle some of that is on our 2020 roadmap is a single sign on integration from third party client portals into Schwab’s end client portal. The goal there is to really prevent a client from having to remember their Schwab credentials every time they need to access Schwab statements, documents and electronically authorized digital actions like account opens. So they can go jump right in from a third party portal that their clients are using into their Schwab system and then securely get access to all the Schwab statements and documents.

What it Means to be Cloud Native with Oleg Tishkevich

Craig: And batting cleanup, the last position on this podcast is Oleg Tishkevich from Invent.us. I asked him a bit about his firm and what it means to be cloud native and then what’s the right way to optimize for cloud native.

Oleg: So cloud native is the new technology that evolved in the last few years and really allows you to restructure and rearchitect completely legacy based applications, whether they’re mainframe based all the way to SQL server three tier based applications that pretty much very prevalent. So the right way to do it, to really rethink how you can optimize for the cloud native, and what we’ve done with Invent.us is we’ve created a set of tools that help firms take legacy and in a much quicker timeframe be able to convert those into the cloud native so they can start leveraging all this connectivity, scale and technology in the cloud. And those generally would be applications. We mostly work with large broker dealers and most recently we’ve completed implementations for six large broker dealers. So now in the cloud native environment with close to 10,000 advisors with about 260 billion AUA on our platform.

Craig: So I get the whole idea of what cloud native is and how it’s better than just lifting and shifting to the cloud in general. But I asked Oleg to explain some of the applications that they’re helping broker dealers convert to cloud native, some of the specifics please.

Oleg: They’re into our kind of backend infrastructure. So think about the data that the broker dealer would have and then connecting this data to various different applications they would use. So that would be commissioning systems, reporting systems, trading, rebalancing, financial planning, CRM, all those systems. We connect about 35 different applications for one particular client and kind of lifted the experience for their advisor desktop as well.

Craig: So I thought it was pretty impressive that they were saving advisors time, and RIAs time, the end users time of having to find their own bugs and that the system can find the bugs first with Invest.us’ new way of building applications. But Oleg wanted to assure me that wasn’t all that the value proposition was.

Oleg: That’s only part of the offering. Another part of it is that once you have this data in the cloud, advisors can own their data.

Craig: What does that mean, they don’t own their data now?

Oleg: Well they do, but it’s spread out. Like you use seven or six different apps, your regulars come in to audit you. You have all these different systems and you don’t know what data is where and how and you’re trying to organize all this stuff. Well imagine having your data in one place. Think of it, not just like a backup for all those systems, but actually actionable, reportable, viewable power BI-able, analyzable.

Craig: BI-able? That’s a new term.

Craig: One thing in my notes from Oleg’s presentation at the conference was when he said everybody wants a unicorn. And I wanted to know what he meant by that.

Oleg: Well, it’s unicorns or snowflakes today. There’s so much competition going on with fees going to zero and a lot of consolidation going on in the space. Everyone wants to create the best mousetrap for their company, right? So to do that, they want to create a unique value proposition and a unique experience, which often translates into a unique technology offering.

Craig: Sure.

Oleg: So most firms are able to do it because they have a lot of money, they can withstand a lot of consolidation because they hand craft this unicorn experience themselves and spend millions and millions of dollars. So what we’re trying to do is help firms to streamline that process so that we can allow firms to create unique experiences at scale. So think of it as personalization of scale, not just for large firms, but leveling the playing field to smaller firms that RIAs and BDs combined to be able to create that unicorn experience. Paint the picture if you will, of their user experience themselves at a much more manageable cost.



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 craig@ezragroupllc.com