Ep. 103: How to Purchase and Manage Protective Investments with Biju Kulathakal & Jason Barsema, Halo Investing

“The first thing that Biju and I wrote down before we even wrote our business plan is that we want to create a positive impact in the world before we worried about profits. And from that perspective, we think that the state of people’s savings and retirement is a huge issue. The wealth gap in this country is getting larger and larger and the risk gap between stocks and bonds is the widest it’s ever been, at least in my lifetime. The firefighter and the teacher and the police officer, they’re limited to only stocks and bonds and nothing in between, which means they just take the body blows of volatility, and I didn’t think that that was fair. I don’t think it’s fair that my high net worth clients have access to alternative products like structured notes and other alternatives, but most of us don’t. And that was the genesis of Halo — to democratize this product and provide a level playing field.”

–Jason Barsema, President and Co-Founder, Halo Investing

When Jason Barsema was a private banker, he kept 20% of his wealthy clients’ assets in structured products. But high fees and high minimums keep these investments out of reach of mass affluent investors. This was one of the factors that drove Jason and his co-founder, Biju Kulathakal, to found Halo Investing, an online marketplace for structured products, annuities, and what the pair refers to as “protective investments”.

I spoke to Jason and Biju about the rapid growth of online financial marketplaces like Halo, the potential impact of how advisors buy these products, how advisors think about portfolio protection, and a whole lot more on this episode of the WealthTech Today podcast.

Welcome to the WealthTech Today podcast, I’m your host, Craig Iskowitz, the founder and CEO of Ezra Group Consulting. For the past 16 years we’ve worked with hundreds of fintech vendors, and enterprise wealth management firms to guide them towards better business and technology decisions. I’d like to give a shoutout to our Head of Research, Jean Sullivan, for the terrific work she and her team have been doing this year. If your company has a software product that they’re selling to RIAs, broker dealers, asset managers, or others, please go to our website, EzraGroupLLC.com, and fill out the Contact Us form. Our research team can deliver a wide range of market insights, including competitive analysis, total addressable market, buying decisions for all these different sectors, and more. Please reach out to us to see what we can do help increase your growth and revenue.

This podcast features interviews, news, and analysis on the trends and best practices in technology for wealth management, asset management, and related areas. This episode is part of our June focus on marketplaces and their impact on how financial advisors are changing the way they’re buying products and interacting with this new technology.

Click here and schedule a Discovery Session to find out how Ezra Group can help your fintech firm grow revenue in the wealth management space.

Companies Mentioned

Topics Mentioned

  • Genesis of Halo Investing
  • Reducing Friction for Structured Product Issuers
  • What is Protective Investing?
  • Increased Need for Marketplaces & Independence
  • Annuity Market Projections

Episode Transcript

Craig: I’m happy to introduce our guests, two guests on this episode of the WealthTech Today podcast, our two guests are Biju Kulathakal CEO, and co-founder of Halo Investing, hey Biju.

Biju: Hey Craig, how are you?

Craig: And his partner, Jason Barsema, President, and also co-founder of Halo Investing, hey Jason.

Jason: Hey Craig, thanks for having us on.

Craig: I’m glad you could be on, we don’t often have two guests, so I’m excited. This is fun.

Jason: You’re outnumbered.

Craig: Finally, I’m outnumbered. You guys can gang up on me. I’m glad we can get this thing going. And where are you guys calling in from?

Jason: Today, Chicago. So we like to spend our lives on an airplane, but we’re back home in Chicago, rainy Chicago.

Craig: Thank god it’s rainy there, you guys have too much nice weather.

Jason: Yeah, that’s what they always say about Chicago. Absolutely.

Genesis of Halo Investing

Craig: I live in New Jersey, we’re used to crappy weather here, so it’s not surprising. So let’s kick things off. Jason, can you give us a 30-second overview of Halo Investing?structured product marketplaces

Jason: Yeah, absolutely. Halo is a two-sided marketplace for protective investing products like structured notes, ETFs and annuities, where we connect product manufacturers all over the world to tens of thousands of financial advisors across now five continents. And so on our platform, financial advisors, whether you’re an independent or a broker can go onto the Halo platform, get educated on structured notes, buffered ETFs, and annuities, again, we like to call it protective investing products. It’s not only about the education, it’s about the content and the idea generation. It’s about auto pricing tools, executing in minutes, and then ultimately providing the full life cycle management liquidity for all three of these products. And so for us, we’ve got a really big focus on being independent and agnostic and driving value through innovation, and essentially allowing fiduciaries to be fiduciaries.

Craig: You guys were founded in 2015, so you you’ve been around a while. What have you seen as you guys have been growing, your headquartered in Chicago, but you were just in Abu Dhabi opening an office. Why the big push for for international?

Jason: From our perspective, when you look at the global structured note market in particular, the market is about $3 trillion in outstanding issuance and in about a trillion dollars of equity in structured notes get issued every single year, so we like to joke it’s the biggest market no one’s ever heard of. When you look at that trillion dollars, America has got about 6-7% market share, which is pretty atypical for America, right? When you think about America, you think about how we have predominant market share and innovation when it comes to new investment products. With Halo and with structured products, we wanted to take that international focus because $400 billion a year get issued out of here. You can actually buy a structured note at the post office in Belgium and Italy, that’s how popular they are.

When you look at Asia, $500 billion get issued every single year. So for us, A, we wanted to go to where the big volumes were, so we could apply our technology internationally as the world kind of has the same problem of dealing with more of a clunky product that’s never been disrupted and democratized. So that was point number one, but point number two, which I think is a big value to America is that we have learned so much because the structured note market is about five to six years more advanced overseas than it is in the United States. So we’ve taken all of these great things and success that we’ve had internationally and brought them back to America, which has really boosted our volumes and our growth back home, which is, I think, exciting for the industry in general. Biju, I don’t know if you have anything to add to that?

Biju: No, I think that that covers as well, and even in terms of our head count and volume, a third of it is international and we keep growing in more geographies internationally. But the US to the point that was made earlier that, the US is 5% of the structural market, but 70% of the world’s market cap, so there’s a big gull and that’s something that we want to help bridge in the United States. But also grow the market for these products globally because everybody, regardless of countries and borders deserves this product and need that in their portfolio.

Craig: So let’s rewind a little bit. So you founded the company in 2015, how did you guys meet and what gave you the impetus to start this company?

Jason: Biju and I actually got connected through a mutual friend and a client of mine at Credit Suisse. I spent my career on the private banking side, at Credit Suisse as a partner in a large private banking team, there managing portfolios for ultra high net worth individuals and institutions. One of my clients happened to be one of Biju’s best friends which I did not know, and actually we met very serendipitously because it was at a not-for-profit event that I was not supposed to be at until I was told by a mutual friend, “for some reason, I feel like you really need to go to this event,” and and so I did. Private bankers, we go to a ton of not-for-profit events, and so I went and perhaps eyes wide open, but I was introduced to Biju and within three meetings, we started Halo.

From my perspective, I come at it from the lens of the buy side, right? And so, again, as my private banking experience and with my own family office structured products played a very large role in my portfolio. About 20% of my asset allocations on average, were dedicated to structured notes. And ultimately I was one of the largest buyers of structured notes at Credit Suisse. And from my lens, I had a few different problems with the overall market and you can kind of bucket them one and two, the disruption side, and then ultimately into the democratization side. So when I was dealing with structured notes at Credit Suisse, and this is consistent with any wirehouse firm, the fees were really high in the product team, that’s no secret. They’re not transparent, meaning they’re overly complex and no one really does a good job of dissecting where the fees are. How are these packaged? How do they work? They weren’t liquid, you could only sell it back to the issuer.

And buying and managing the product was like working with a travel agent before Orbitz. And so I wanted to insert technology not only to solve those problems, but candidly, the impetus of Halo is a lot more important. And we were founded more off of a social impact as our value proposition, as you’ll see written on our wall, no matter what office of Halo you’re in around the world is “impactful profits”. It was the first thing that Biju and I wrote down on a piece of paper before we even wrote our business plan is what are we going to stand for? And it’s about creating a positive impact in the world before we worried about profits. And from that perspective, we think very humbly that the world’s largest epidemic is the state of people’s savings and retirement. The wealth gap in this country is getting larger and larger. Now the risk gap between stocks and bonds is the widest it’s ever been, at least in my lifetime, and a firefighter and the teacher and a police officer, they’re forced to have access to stocks and bonds, but nothing in between, which means they just take the body blows of volatility, and I didn’t think that that was fair. I don’t think it’s fair that my high net worth clients have access to alternative products like structured notes and other alternatives, but most of us don’t. And that was the genesis of Halo was to democratize this product so everyone has a level playing field.

Biju: And we also saw a marketplace where there was none of this technology used and realized that, okay, if we want to take it to that retail customer base, it has to be done through technology. And so we started, and this is a market that traditionally served the ultra high net worth and the very rich and to move into a bigger marketplace, we had to completely automate a lot of what was being done in the market, but also start working on distribution and from a distribution standpoint, too, we realized that, okay, we have to change how our distribution works in this marketplace. And those are some of the things we started working on all with a tech-forward look.

Craig: That’s a great story. I’m always interested in, we’ve talked to a lot of startups and a lot of new companies I’m always interested in how they started, how they got together, where they got their ideas and your concept of impact before profits, I think stands out.

Jason: It’s been surreal. I mean, we launched a platform in the fall of 2016 in it’s beta mode just to five independent advisors. And we wanted to go the independent route because they didn’t have easy access to structured notes, other than through traditional sailors. We wanted to bring this to a market that didn’t have access to it and really uphold our thesis of democratization to advisors who cover more of the retail market. And then we opened it up to the masses in April, May of 2017. So really four years ago, we were two guys and a dog, if you will now we span across five continents with offices in Chicago and Zurich and Singapore, and now Abu Dhabi. Most recently we got named at Fast Company Magazine, which I’m very proud of as one of the top 10, most innovative fintechs in the world, or one of the fastest companies ever get named to that list. And it’s one of the biggest awards you can receive in technology. So we always like to tell our partners, and when we’re talking about Halo is, yeah, we’re a fintech, but we’re more tech than fin. You know, 70% of our employees are developers. And we just take a different approach to this market, which is very much needed given the optics that it’s got.

Reducing Friction for Structured Product Issuers

Craig: And you have two main client bases, one is the one is the financial advisors, but the other is the issuers. So what are some of the ways you help the issuers, which they couldn’t do before? I mean, they were, they seemed to be chugging along fine before you guys got here. So what do you offer to them that makes their lives easier?structured product marketplaces

Biju: So when you look at the issuers of marketplace, there were a lot of points of friction in that whole manufacturing process of a structured note. From the way that the documents were generated to the way they were filed to the SEC to to even the pricing, the hedging. Every part of it there were ridiculous amounts of manual intervention needed to get anything done, which you could see, we could see from the client experience in the marketplace, sometimes it would take hours to get a quote, but sometimes it would take days or weeks to get a quote. And that’s just not a good way to make any market grow. So we bring a lot of points automation basically help automate the generation of documents, different filings, trade bookings.

And now we also started helping some issuers, the new ones, to hedge and manage their risk with these notes. The way we look at that, that entire business is, we want to do whatever it takes to remove points of friction in the ecosystem. And anything we can do to remove points of friction means that costs go lower, and it’s a costs go lower, their savings passed onto the customer, which is for the marketplace. So that’s the approach we’ve taken.

Jason: And it turns into a much better experience, right? I always like to say that before Halo, the way structured notes were assembled and created were like how cars were assembled before Henry Ford’s assembly line. Super time-intensive manual, intensive cost intensive. Thus, that’s why the fees can be so high in structured notes because actually the margins aren’t that great. The cost of manufacturing is incredibly high, and because the fees are so high, the sticker prices just like cars, thus the minimum investment sizes were so high for structured notes. So with our technology and our innovation, we’re lowering those points of friction as Biju was talking about.

But ultimately what that does is it gets the investment sizes into very low minimums. So you can buy a structured note on our platform for $1,000, case in point where you used to be a million or $3 million at Credit Suisse. And the issuers can pass those savings onto the customer in regards to the better investment terms, because we have 30 issuers on our platform globally. So when you have 30 issuers, think about from the issuer side, as they want to be as competitive as possible. And so the more that they can pass on the more competitive they are. And ultimately that benefits the buy-side, but we are in our technology are making this click to trade Craig, which no one has ever done before. And so we want to turn this market in, which is what we’re already doing with many of these issues around the world. Buying a structured note is, is no more difficult than buying a stock and that’s the way it needs to be, and that’s where it’s the nets where it’s going through Halo.

The Rise of Protective Investing

Craig: You said earlier, which I wasn’t aware of that in some countries in Europe, you can buy a structured note at the post office?

Jason: Literally. Yeah. So in Belgium and in Italy, you can buy a structured note at the post office, which is flabbergasting in many different respects, but I’ll reserve my opinions on the United States postal service. But that’s how popular they are. When you walk into a bank branch in France, they don’t sell you a certificate of deposit or a mutual fund as we do in America, they sell you a structured note. And that’s because Europe and Europeans, it’s the old world. So they’re more risk averse than we’ve traditionally been as Americans. Now with the change in demographics and the markets in America, we’re getting older, right? 10,000 people retire in this country every single day, and the average savings rate is $63,000. And that gets back to my impact before profits comment is that structured notes can not only bridge that risk gap between stocks and bonds, but it can be a much more efficient savings and investment vehicle to be able to get people to retirement, and for that matter through retirement. We have insurance on our homes, our cars, and even the dog, but we don’t have insurance on our portfolios and that never made any sense. And that’s why I think that you’re going to really see a Renaissance in regards to investment products here stateside.structured product marketplaces

Craig: Maybe that’s a better name, a better marketing term than structured notes, call it portfolio insurance.

Jason: That’s why we call it protective investing, Halo is really wrapper agnostic. So when Craig wakes up in the morning, have you ever said, I need a structured note. Probably not. Or an annuity. Nope. Probably not. No. You wake up in the morning and say, Hey, I have this objective that I want to get, or the market’s down, so I’m gonna add more US large cap, core exposure. That’s the approach that we take, right? So we take from the buy-side lens, which I think is really differentiated versus other platforms out there, is that we want to solve for your goals and your needs first. And then our technology serves up the most appropriate wrapper, cause it could be a buffered ETF. It could be an annuity, it could be a structured note, or it could be none of the above. And our platform tells you that. And that’s the importance of being independent and agnostic.

Craig: That brings me to the next question. So you talked about being independent and being agnostic. We do a lot of research on marketplaces, like Halo. There’s a couple other competitors out there and some of them were started by wall street banks. Like SIMON Markets was started by Goldman and Morgan Stanley backed Luma. So who was backing you guys? And why do you feel that being independent is so important?

Jason: From the investor side, we have traditional venture capitalists. Halo is built like a Silicon Valley company because we have a Silicon Valley mindset. So those are the investors that we wanted to have because we wanted to bring a unique and independent agnostic approach to the marketplace, which is really important. We also have a large insurance company, Allianz, as one of our investors, but they don’t have any control over our business. And again, we’ve been focused on structured notes primarily, so that independence agnostic remains critical to our makeup at the company. But for us, the way that we selected our investors was just really based off of being that Silicon Valley approach and mindset to the company, which is what I think needs to happen to take the market, not only the United States, but globally to be 10X of where it is today.

We’re not here to just solve incremental problems. I’m here to 10X the market. And I think that that benefits everybody, including the Wall Street banks as the issuers, right, as Biju just talked about, that’s critical because our goal and our focus is driving these minimum investment sizes down to the dollar. I want every dollar saver in every emerging market to be able to have a more efficient savings product. That is our genesis. And so for us, that’s why we wanted those investors who took a different approach, who’ve invested in the likes of a Robinhood or a Coinbase or a Stripe. Those are our investors. And so that’s at least from my perspective, kind of the importance of being independent and the reason why we have the investors that we do, Biju I’m sure you have your own lens.

Biju: I think that covers it pretty well. I think the thing too is we work with strategics, but strategics were not the traditional Wall Street issuing banks, that’s a key thing. Again, nothing wrong with the banks. The banks are great. They’re great partners of ours, but not having them directly on a cap table actually helps us a lot because it really helps preserve the independence and in any company that wants to innovate. The ideas we think about in terms of innovation are very client-friendly, client forward. It’s buy-side focused and we don’t want to be beholden to the sell side if we are very buy-side focused. And that’s, that’s important in how we’ve looked at raising capital and how we looked at distribution, how we looked at who our partners are.

Jason: And I think that that’s important too, because we love the banks. Obviously they’re the producers and issuers of our products. But by investing in our company that would have an inherent conflict of interest, of the data and access that they have over different pricing, the competition that we might have on our platform doesn’t exist when they’re investors, there’s inherent conflict of interest. And so with that being independent actually helps our banks. And I think many of our banks would agree with that because our approach is rising a top, right, it’s the rising tide lifts all boats. And so we want to 10X this market, that’s great for all the banks and all the issuers and the innovations that we’re bringing. So I think everybody buy-side and sell-side would agree with that approach.

Craig: It seems to be the best approach. We always recommend, I mean, my company is a consulting firm, we’re technology agnostic as well. And I understand completely why you want to avoid conflicts of interest, keep the Wall Street banks off your cap table. coming from the market, can you explain, I mean, I’m sure most people may know, but in case anyone doesn’t know the difference between the buy side and the sell side and why you don’t want to be beholden to the sell side?

Biju: So I’d say for us, the buy side, it varies today, we have our buy-side is very it’s, it’s an advisor, somebody who manages somebody else, right? But they are technically an advisor or a broker, and they’re called different names, both the US and internationally. So they’re making a decision on behalf of their recheck lines or are making recommendations to their clients, but they handle all that. And for them it’s key that they have the best tools for from Halo, for transparency, for analytics, for pricing, and the whole logistics of execution and having to deliver to their portfolio. Their needs from the buyer side are very different from the sell side.On the sell side, the manufacturer is much more focused on the issuing, the hedging and the P/L from hedging which is a completely different focus, which is an important focus, because if you didn’t have the sell side, there are no products are delivered to the buy-side.

But the key thing in any market, whether we’re in structured notes or whether we’re selling toys or whether it’s selling just apps on the app store is that if you focus on the customer, if you keep focusing on the little innovation we at Halo, we focus on a lot of little innovations and little innovations over time, ended up being radical innovations that focused on little innovation for the buy-side that forces you to basically say, Hey, what can I do to lower costs on the sell side? What can I do to do things that make make it safer for these investors? And so the start on the buy-side start of innovation on the buy-side and the focus there basically translate into every other part of your supply chain and that improves the markets. So that’s how we’ve sort of looked at that.

Increased Need for Independent Marketplaces

Craig: Yeah, thanks for that. That’s a great way to look at things. So in terms of trends that you’re seeing in marketplaces, and in this part of the business Jason, you mentioned the need to be independent and the rise of the RIA. How do you see that as driving the need for marketplaces like Halo?structured product marketplaces

Jason: I think that when you look at the trend in wealth management, and there’s a few different trends that we’re focused on, but the trend in wealth management is again being a fiduciary, right? And so when you look at, even with your own net worth, Craig, you probably work with an advisor from somebody or pointing with your own firm is that you want someone sitting on the right side of the table or the same side of the table as you. And so when I look at the wealth management industry and you see a lot of these teams moving away from the big wires to be independent for many different reasons. And so for us, we want to make sure that we cater to all individuals and that’s why we focus on independence, cause there’s a reason why they left that firm. And so that’s one major trend that we see is just kind of the rise of fiduciaries.

Now that being said, even when you’re at a wirehouse firm, you’re still a fiduciary. And with all the new legislation that’s come in and we actually have a full set of tools for private banks and broker dealers, because we work with many of them as well, to be able to manage the new laws and legislation and the compliance and review for protective investing products and all capital markets products. So we allow whether you’re a broker or an advisor to uphold your fiduciary value. And that’s really the trend that we see is, is this rise of the fee-based, whether you’re a broker or an advisor, and I think that that’s really good.

When you look at Halo’s platform, 50% of our customers have never bought a structured note before. About 60% of our market is the independent advisor, 40% are brokers. Now to that point, when you look at that statistic is they have no economic incentive to buy a structured note. Essentially something that’s complex, something that when you Google the word structured note, look what comes up, FINRA warnings of complexity and Bs and everything else that we talked about. So that’s what I take most pride and not about the volumes that we’ve traded, over the last four years, we’re one of the fastest growing fintechs out there. But I love the fact that we are turning fiduciaries into fiduciaries and bringing new people into this products that weren’t into that product.

I think trend number two, from my perspective, is content and idea generation. That’s the number one thing that we hear from RIAs is when you leave the wire, it’s great because you have the independence, but it’s hard to break away from the research that you’re used to. And yes, a lot of people say research is commoditized and you can access anybody’s research anywhere. That’s not really the case. And so Halo’s got a big focus on AI tools that really serve up the right trade at the right time at the right place. So it’s just constant content generation, which is the same reason why you and I are on Twitter and why we watch CNBC and Bloomberg, right? There’s no monopoly on good ideas. And so that content idea generation also serves as a great educational tool on the platform. So the rise of the independence and the content idea generation are two major trends that I see.

Biju: I’d say the other thing I would add to that is that people are, especially in a market like this, where rates are really low and the market’s at all time highs, people want to move away from just a direct investment in the stock market where you’re taking a certain amount of risk, to something that’s got a buffer on the downside or protection on the downside, or some sort of defined document with the upside. That’s a big need for customers. And we see this going to be, I think it’s going to be a longterm trend where at a certain point, you know, I don’t know what exactly that timeframe is going to be, but at a certain point, people are going to look back and say, I can’t believe we just bought the S&P without any protection. And I think that’s going to be a holistic trend in the market and we’re at the very early stages of that. But we see that trend playing out in the marketplaces that we’re at.

So we don’t see, I think as we might’ve stated earlier, we don’t see the addressable market we are serving as the current amount of issuance of structured notes. We see this as a much bigger market. We see this as, the market, the general market for ETFs and mutual funds, where people are going to move away from just buying the ETF directly and buying the ETF with protection, regardless of what wrappers it’s in.

Craig: That’s an excellent point. It’s the wrapper that is important. Most of most consumers don’t even understand what an ETF is, but if you were to wrap a structured note as part of every mutual fund purchase, then they just say, this is the insurance you buy with a mutual fund. It’s part of mutual fund protection. That would make it much more palatable. They’d understand it.

Jason: That’s exactly the way we think about it. Spot on. If you love a mutual fund, why would you not want it with protection? And that’s really where the innovations Halo has brought to this market and why we keep on focusing on we’re wrapper agnostic, because I don’t care. Craig should be able to pick which wrapper he wants for different liquidity purposes or tax purposes or flexibility purposes, but ultimately the technology and the innovations we’re bringing to the manufacturer will impact annuity companies and insurance companies, as well. So you’ll have the same ability to click and trade and have that same flexibility, it’s just based on picking that wrapper of what’s most suitable for Craig.

Annuity Market Projections

Craig: So let’s talk about annuities, you guys just added annuities onto the platform. Why did you do that and where do you see the market for annuities going?

Jason: From my perspective, I think that annuities look very similar to structured notes, but more importantly, they suffer from many of the same problems, right? When you hear the word annuity, many people cringe, because they think they’re high end fees that they’re not transparent, right. They’re sold and they’re not bought, buying them as very difficult. Those are the same four problems that I just said about structured notes. And so when I look at the annuity wrapper, there’s actually a lot of advantages for annuities and it’s funny because I used to say, I’ve never bought an annuity in my life, nor would I ever buy an annuity. So I was one of those guys. And then when we start to unpack that a little bit and then started to look at our technology and the innovations we could drive in the market, when you can reduce fees, increase transparency, reduce friction, there’s a lot of advantages to this annuity wrapper, a lot of advantages, especially in an environment, no matter what side of the aisle, you sit on, taxes are going up and, and we need more tax efficient savings to help solve this savings crisis that we’re having right now. So I don’t think that we would be doing our jobs or fulfilling our, our mission of impact before profits if we didn’t focus on the annuity market. I think they’re very consonant with structured notes and they offer a lot of advantages that even structured notes don’t offer. So people should have choice.

Craig: Have you done anything to make annuities easier to buy? There’s still a lot of long contracts and they’re very focused on each individual investor. Have you done anything around making them easier to transact?

Jason: Yeah. So there’s actually a lot of innovations that we’ve done on that side. Number one is, we’ve brought in kind of the education, the analytics, so people can actually understand what the heck an annuity is and the benefits of what they can serve in the portfolio. So Halo’s big focus, which is very differentiated with our platform is kind of the portfolio analytics so Craig can see not just the risk and reward of a certain product, which we offer, but how does this impact Craig’s portfolio and where is it going in the portfolio? And so that analytics process solves lot of the friction because for an advisor, and this was the same problem I had with structured notes, if you’re my client at Credit Suisse, I would tell you the four terms, I’d send you an 80 page term sheet and I’d say, trust me. Well, I’m sorry, in this day and age, I don’t trust anybody. And so I need to have a quantitative and statistical analysis to show why this is good, if I’m going to be a fiduciary. So that’s friction number one.

Number two is that we worked with the carriers and other partners to completely streamline the buying process. When you look at annuity, and this is what we told the carriers, yeah, they’ve got to fill out 30 pages of paperwork, it’s cumbersome, and as Americans, we, and really for anybody, if it’s really challenging to buy, then we probably ain’t going to do it. That’s the rise of Amazon, which is why a lot of people call us the Amazon of protective investing products. It’s not because we have a marketplace, we make it easy to transact, and that’s the beauty of Amazon. And that’s what we’ve done by streamlining the backend behind the scenes so people are able to transact.

Halo also created its own OID, which is unique to the market because that’s a major problem. As all these advisors are leaving the wirehouses, they’re not registered, then they don’t have their annuity licenses, so they can work with our OID to actually transact and these products and be able to be that agent of record, which is really, really important and unique to the market from an operational and infrastructure process. And then finally, we’ve gone down to the carrier and again, inserted the same issue in automation technology. We’ve gone to the structured note issuers with, and brought that to the carriers, so it turns it into more of a click to trade. And that’s, that’s where the market needs to go.

Craig: Can you explain to people what an OID is?

Jason: So an OID is basically an insurance, outsourced insurance desk, which allows us to be able to transact annuities on behalf of the advisors. So we would be the agent of record for that advisor who may not have their insurance licenses and may not be registered nor do they want to have their insurance licenses or be registered. So we take that burden off of their plate and really bring it into Halo so we can manage that policy for them. Now they still get to manage it all through the platform. Right. So that’s kind of the benefit of technology is we also manage all the life cycle of your annuity. So how’s the annuity doing, right? What are the lifecycle events that I can expect when I own this annuity? So the advisor still has access to all that, but from a documentation and, and a record keeping perspective, we do all of that. So the advisor doesn’t have to go and find a new broker dealer to hang their licenses, which they don’t want to do. That’s why they kind of went independent. And it’s a major, major benefit for financial advisors.

Craig: So it’s like a RetireOne or DPL outsourced insurance.

Jason: Yeah, exactly. It’s the same kind of infrastructure it’s just wrapped around technology. So you’ll find us, don’t really say, oh, we’re an OID. That’s just the nice kind of back office operations and infrastructure that we can provide advisors. But the focus is on the platform for advisors that get educated, analyze, execute, and maintain annuities with a click of a button, and of course structured notes too.

Craig: And as I tell all of our guests, the time goes by so fast, and it’s already gone. We’re already out of time, guys. Really fantastic. Can you tell us where people can find more information about Halo?

Jason: So you can go to our website HaloInvesting.com. You can read about all of our services, whether you’re an issuer or you’re an advisor and you can sign up for a demo and then also access all of our very robust suite of education, analytics, and podcasts like this one. And so HaloInvesting.com is where you want to go.

Craig: Fantastic guys. Thanks so much for being here.

Jason: Craig, thanks for having us always a pleasure.

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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