Come on in and sit back relax, you’re listening to Episode 162 of the WealthTech Today podcast. I’m your host, Craig Iskowitz, founder of Ezra Group Consulting and this podcast features interviews, news and analysis on the trends and best practices all around Wealth Management Technology. Our topic this month is leaders in integration I was excited to speak to today’s guest, Before we get into the interview, if you are listening now you’re an executive at a broker dealer, an asset manager or an enterprise RIA you should run not walk to a website, EzraGroupllc.com and fill out the Contact Us form on the homepage to meet with us about your technology platform issues. Our experienced team can assist with software vendor evaluations systems integrations, improving operational efficiency, software implementations and a whole lot more. You can take advantage of our free initial consultation offer by going to EzraGroupllc.com.
- BlackRock [21:30]
- Brinker Capital [21:30]
- Morningstar [13:30]
- Redtail Technology [07:43]
- Riskalyze [07:47]
- Salesforce [12:00]
- Orion’s Integration History
- Switching Over to APIs
- Lessons Learned from Integrations
- Proposal Generation as a Hidden Feature
- Orion’s Product Roadmap
- Unified Managed Accounts
Craig: I am super excited to introduce my next guest, Trent Mumma, EVP of Product from Orion Advisortech. Trent, welcome to the program.
Trent: Hey Craig, super excited to be meeting with you today. So thanks for inviting me.
Craig: We are all super excited. Where are you calling in from Trent?
Trent: Beautiful Omaha, Nebraska. September is a fantastic month here in Nebraska. High 70, low humidity, I encourage all the listeners to make a trip out to Nebraska in September. Put it on your bucket list.
Craig: Now’s the time, it’s like New Jersey we were just joking that we tell people in New Jersey we get like two weeks of nice weather in the spring then it’s hot and muggy and crappy all summer. Then we get two weeks nice weather in the fall then it’s raining. It’s sleet and and freezing rain, and then it’s winter and then it we barely fall out and start over again. But you guys have a way worse than we do.
Trent: I feel like I can relate to that.
Craig: Cool. So thanks for being here. We tried to get this going for months and fit into your schedule. You guys are super busy. There’s so much going on with Orion. So can you please give us a 30-second elevator pitch for anybody who lives under a rock and doesn’t know Orion Advisortech?
Trent: Great question. We are a wealthtech provider that’s really focused on the advisor client journey. And so what that means is we’ve put together a fiduciary framework that we call prospect, plan, invest, achieve. And what that’s really focused on is helping advisors grow their business through prospecting to new clients communicating with those prospects. Helping them with their financial plans, their goals, translating those goals into investment outcomes that align and then ultimately the ongoing reporting back the achieved side, if you will of the advisor stating their value as part of that ongoing relationship and helping support that journey.
Craig: Awesome. Thank you for that. And this episode is part of our monthly topic for this month is integration leaders. And of course everyone knows that as a group launched our WealthTech Integrations Score, and Orion is one of the leaders in integrations and you’ve always have been ever since we’ve been following integrations for a long, long time. This is the first time we’ve had a score and ability to validate integrations in a public way. And Orion is one of the only I think nine vendors received a perfect score of 10 WealthTech Integrations Score, and Orion was one of them. So that’s why we’re having you on the program. We’re talking integrations.
Orion’s Integration History
Craig: So as I said, we’ve been following integrations in the wealthtech space for a long, long time. And Orion has always been one of the leaders, can you talk about the history of integrations, why did you guys decide to get way ahead of the curve and build out some integrations so early in the process?
Trent: Yeah. So if you look back on the history, it really started around, transmitting data back and forth through like flat files which in many cases that was you know, leading to delayed experiences where might take a day or two before the data from one provider to another could be input into the system. Around a decade ago, we started really focusing on finding ways to integrate with other companies utilizing our API. And as a start, it was the typical asset so the authentication piece and maybe some iframe work that was in which was at the at the time it was cutting edge for our industry.
Trent: But a lot of that’s been normalized. And although the open source API and the direct integration has been a huge boon for our business. That’s a big reason why we got a perfect score with your matrix that you put together we are I believe on the next frontier of integrations and a lot of what we’re talking about with redshift, and where that’s going and more access to real time data and normalizing that data layer. It’s going to be a really exciting time over the next couple years as we see just like we did around a decade ago, another big movement in the industry.
Craig: Yeah, we just we talk about iframes. Can you explain to people who maybe aren’t as old as we are, what an iframe is?
Trent: Yeah, yeah. So basically think of it is like taking a screen from one vendor have a particular component that they have a feature that they have and taking that iframe, if you will, that’s that specific screen and then plugging it in that experience into another vendors technology to where you know, it looks like it’s embedded, you’re not having to go from one piece of technology to the other through a separate tab doing a separate login. It’s fairly seamless, and in a lot of cases today, that’s great. I mean, it works really well and there’s a lot of new ways to go about AI framing now that even make it more seamless than what it was several years ago.
Trent: But folks are looking for it to be more contextual. And from a visual standpoint, that aesthetics of how the different technologies look, it’s important that it’s not what I call Frankenstein, right where it looks like just two different things got together and they they they don’t have the right look and feel at all but there’s ways that you can normalize that as well through a product language through there, just the overall UI and UX the aesthetics.But yeah, to answer your question, it’s one experience framed into another experience without having a login or a separate tab or completes the circle, if you will.
Craig: Exactly that. We used to call that a fake integration because as you mentioned your it’s not really integrated. It’s just showing the other vendors application inside a piece of your window. So it’s not integrated. It’s not the same UI you actually get completely different sets of menus and an options and it doesn’t look anything like it but it just have access to it in the same in the same window.
Trent: Yeah, a good example and I tell my wife this all the time, a great iframed integration that probably everybody uses his Apple CarPlay. Apple CarPlay is for the most part, it’s iframed into the majority of cars and you still see like the main navigation menu of whoever built your car, but the experience of Apple CarPlay is different. But it is iframed in.
Craig: So you talk to your wife, but all the time what kind of conversations do you guys have?
Trent: Well, she’s still trying to figure out what exactly we do, like what is wealthtech and so I talked to her, I tried to give her some examples that can help her relate to what the day in the life of is that somebody works on Orion.
Craig: I can completely relate to that as a consultant, I have three daughters. They’re all brilliant, but none of them knew what I did for the longest time. So it took a while. They thought I made PowerPoint slides, which is kind of true.
Switching Over to APIs
Craig: But I digress. Talking about history of integrations, at some point you guys had integrations, but those were more point to point where, integrate with Redtail, okay, click here. Here’s the Redtail integration. They now want to integrate with Riskalyze here’s the Riskalyze integration. But then what point did you open up your API’s and why what drove you to do that?
Trent: The big thing around that was to help scale. So we knew that we needed to allow the firms that were using the Orion technology to have choices, right, but the best risk analytics platform, the best CRM, the best trading integration, and we obviously we hope that they always picked us for whatever we had built, but we also weren’t oblivious. And it was important to us that we support the best choice, right? Well, if the API is captive, if you will, or it’s behind, closed box, then it makes it really difficult to be able to bring in all those different providers. It makes it difficult to be able to support that at scale. And so we opened up our API to folks that we wanted to invite within the Orion ecosphere and integrate with and we supported those firms with developer documentation with access to our squads and our developers that were utilizing the API internally. It’s the same API that the entire Orion ecosphere is powered by.
Trent: So by giving these external firms access to our subject matter experts that use those API’s day in and day out, it helps speed up the development helps speed up the integration. It also helps as they’re putting together the use case for the experience that they’re trying to create having somebody that has already done that and be able to piece it together. And that’s part of the part of the reason why we are able to you know, just have a huge breadth, if you will, of it, vendors that we integrated with into our tech stack.
Craig: Yeah, and that’s something we look for when we’re evaluating firms. So we do we do a lot of evaluation. So fintech firms, we work with them. We also work with their clients. And one of the things when they’re talking about their API’s, when we’re evaluating integrations, is do they use the same API’s internally that they offer externally? It’s a big tell if they don’t, you know the APIs really aren’t very good, we call that eating your own dog food, right? If you’re building API’s, you better be using them internally. If you’re just saying these are our external API’s only, well, they’re probably not very good. You probably haven’t tested them very well. And we’re going to be the first ones to use them. So it’s a great you guys doing that. What made you do that?
Trent: Trent It’s about scale. I mean, going back to what I mentioned before, so if you have a separate set of API’s that you’re utilizing with external vendors or your clients from what we’ve seen in the industry, and in most cases, those external clients and vendors, they’re they’re not able to get the data points or access to the data that they need. Right and part of that is because the development teams are trying to maintain two different sets of API’s. So one is obviously going to be out in front of the other updates are going to would need to be made and both it creates a lot of tech debt. It creates a lot of extra work and so you know, we we’ve been committed to that strategy and making sure that everything we build everybody has access to and making sure that we are able to support that in a manner in which helps bring real value to not just external you know, technology providers integrating in but a lot of our clients, you know, integrate directly into our API as well. Pulling in data or you know, whether they built their own client portal, they built their own advisor portal, the list goes on and on. Right and when we release something new, and we’re touting that in our release notes of hey, this new feature function, it’s important to them and that they have access to that in real time.
Craig: Absolutely, I mean, you guys have come such a long way. I was looking at my notes, my first demo of your platform was in 2013. Right, so that was a Salesforce overlay. And since then, you’ve you’ve completely separated in Salesforce, built out a complete end to end platform, made lots of acquisitions. And now you’re the leader wouldn’t leaders in the industry. So with all these integrations you’ve built, how many clients are using them at the moment?
Trent: I’d say it’s close to three quarters of our clients. So yeah, it was roughly 2500 unique firms. Using the tech stack today. So the number is high. And you know, looking at that, CRM is the number one specifically Redtail. Redtail is the number one integration that we have. It’s also one of the oldest integrations that we have in the sense of partner which they’re obviously part of the Orion brand now, but a partner that we worked with over a decade ago on doing some stuff with, but we also see high adoption of integrations around risk.
Trent: The risk analytics like Riskalyze, that’s another really popular one. That’s a great integration and then after that, and this is more of behind the scenes, but a lot of the data providers like Morningstar, as an example, right, and the data that that they provide that, you know, our advisors able to put on their reports those are also extremely highly adopted.
Lessons Learned from Integrations
Craig: So interesting, I love this kind of stuff, seeing what people are using what the trends are. And so those are external integrations, which are super helpful for a lot of your clients. But let’s talk about internal integrations. You guys had done a bit of a buying spree, but a bunch of different companies recently to expand your capabilities in a lot different areas. How are those internal integrations going in and what are you learning from from building those out?
Trent: It’s a super exciting time here at Orion. So you know, obviously the those companies that we’ve acquired and merged with the first thing I want to note on that is just the talent. The folks that were a part of those organizations that are here today. They’re all very bright. They’re all very passionate. And the blending of the cultures of the different companies has been really exciting and seeing that but we’ve been really focused on bringing all this together as part of our prospect plan invested CI framework that I spoke about at the beginning here, and there’s been some quick wins some quick things that we’ve been able to roll out fairly nearly right away after some of the acquisitions.
Trent: As an example, on the Hidden Levers side, we rolled out their proposal tool to folks that were using our custom indexing solution or model marketplace. On the Redtail side, we just recently integrated in our portfolio view so that’s the screen and Orion that advisors use to slice and dice and analyze a specific client, you know, a household and that is now iframed into red tail, right? It looks great. It’s seamless, so within Redtail there’s a contextual record that you can search for somebody within the CRM and pull them up in portfolio view and look at their their goals for planning. You can look at their risk statistics, the Hidden Levers you can look at their their performance, their game offs, all of it within one screen, right which is that those have been some nice quick wins that we’ve had, but long term, there’s a couple of big focus items.
Trent: Number one, and probably the most important, from my perspective is normalizing the data layer of all of these systems, and why that’s important is for instance, the Hidden Levers tool, which we call Orion risk intelligence now, it has its own performance calculations that are separate than the portfolio accounting system Orion’s core performance calculation tool and normalizing those data points and getting those together is important.
Trent: We have many different systems that have what a prospect is so on the CRM side with Redtail or even in Orion risk intelligence that has a an entity of a prospect our planning tool has an entity of a prospect. And having just one prospect source that feeds everywhere is really important. And we feel if we can normalize the data layer and have the data layer of all the tools talking to one another. They’re all in sync in real time.
Trent: Then we have an opportunity to create a tremendous experience overall for our user base. And so, to do that, we’re in the process of moving a lot of our different datasets from those different those different pieces of technology to redshift, streaming real time updates with Kafka to redshift, so that way, all the data is there. And then having those different systems call the redshift data in real time. So that way, they’re all in sync. And that that’s something that’s been underway for a while. We’ve made some great steps with that. And it’s something that we’re going to continue to execute on in 2023.
Trent: Just a couple other things that I think are worth mentioning as well. So we have some really, really exciting features that we’re going to be promoting here and Q4 of this year and early in 2023, around risk analytics and integrating in basis code, the compliance platform that we purchased around a year ago, and a lot of folks don’t get excited when people talk about compliance but there’s a lot of rules changes that are out there right now. And when I go to go to conferences, when I talk to our advisors, compliance is top of mind where they need help and specifically, what they need help with is more real time analytics of their data around like share class selection of mutual funds. Making sure that when new accounts are transferring in that they’re looking at that and they’re aware of what share class or mutual funds the client is in and and if they need to get them out of that they’re able to do that. The SEC, there’s been a lot of fines this year for that specifically. And we were bringing to market a solution that helps bring that into perspective and much more of a real time manner. With a an integration with the custodians that we’re really excited about.
Proposal Generation as a Hidden Feature
Craig: That’s excellent. So going back to something you mentioned, Hidden Levers is now called Orion Risk Intelligence. One thing a lot of people don’t realize, of course, everyone knows Hidden Levers has stress testing. I think that that’s what they’re best known for their stress testing tools. But one thing people don’t realize is that they also have a very popular proposal tool in fact, I think a lot I think 40-50% of whoever’s clients purchase them for the proposal tool, which is which is really interesting. So it kind of flies under the radar. Are you integrating that as well? Or is that going to go away and only be able to use the Orion portfolio tool?
Trent: That’s a great question. I’m actually wondering if you work for Orion now since you have those statistics.
Craig: No they told us when we held the meeting, was they told it was possible public information, right?
Trent: Yeah, yeah. But you’re right. So that the the proposal workflow that is in Hidden Levers or Orion risk intelligence now, it is highly adopted. And it’s separate than the stress testing piece, as you mentioned. You and I kind of touched on it there during the previous question, but that’s actually one of the things that we worked right away after the acquisition of Hidden Levers to integrate into the Orion tech stack. So actually, today, all of the firms that are signed up to use Orion tech today have access to that proposal tool, and they can utilize it through an integration with our model marketplace or our trading rebalancing platform Eclipse and then they have the ability to upgrade from there if they would like to add on the stress testing or more the risk analytics portion of of the platform if they’d like.
Craig: So how does it work with Eclipse? How does that integration work?
Trent: There’s a really, really nice simple workflow through the Hidden Levers proposal tool around hey, let’s take the prospect and then you know, they go through a risk tolerance questionnaire. To be able to find the risk and then from there, where to where it integrates in is from the models store, right. So whether they’re the models that the advisor is manually maintaining, or it’s part of our model marketplace models like BlackRock or the Brinker models, whatever it may be those are all accessible and are part of the integration to where then the advisor can select one of those strategies, assign it to the client and then depending on their workflow, it might sleeve it out into a UMA that then goes into Eclipse to be able to be traded or it could just be a single account strategy. And then Eclipse takes care of the execution and ongoing maintenance of the trading rebalancing side of that process.
Craig: That sounds great. I almost wish I was running out advisory firm so I could check it out or test it.
Trent: We can give you we can give you a demo Craig.
Orion’s Product Roadmap
Craig: Awesome. I’d love to see that. So going back to something else, you mentioned Redtail iframing in the Orion portfolio view. So are there any other things coming up? You talked about a lot of cool stuff that Redtail clients can access if they’re also Orion clients. Do you have anything else planned for that?
Trent: Yeah. So you know one thing I mentioned already as part of that is we are taking Redtail and having it integrate through the redshift data store if you will. So that’s getting all the data elements from the CRM and the portfolio accounting system on the same page. That’s that data normalization piece I talked about earlier, which will be really important from an experience standpoint. Also on the Redtail side, they have a really great document storage tool that they call an imaging. And that document storage tool is a big need for folks, especially when you think about on the Orion side with like our investor portal or client portal. There’s document storage there. There’s document storage within our portfolio accounting solution, even though for instance, custodial statements are stored so on and so forth. And so one of the things that we’re doing is we’re going to normalize that and have one centralized document storage tool that’s Redtail imaging that’s available for everybody to use, and then when the documents updated in one place, it’s updated everywhere in all the different entry points and so that’s, that’s a big thing that we’re we’re excited about.
The other thing that we’re going to be doing here later is we have a marketing campaign tool that we launched a couple years ago that we called Marketer, and Marketer has seen a lot of success. But one of the things that we’re going to be doing is a bit of an overhaul a pretty exciting enhancement path that we’re going to bring to market in Q4 and that’ll be something that will be tightly integrated into Redtail, into the CRM, it makes sense to have that workflow, you know, tightly integrated there. And we’re really excited about what that’s going to look like and the value that that’s going to bring.
Craig: Of course, we don’t want to fail it failed to mention the Redtail acquisition, which is huge and brings in thousands of clients and thousands of overlapping clients, and thousands of non overlapping overlapping clients where there’s some sales opportunity. So the more you can integrate, the easier it is for Redtail clients to see the capabilities that they’re missing in other Orion tools.
Trent: For sure, for sure.
Craig: You mentioned normalizing data across all products. This is a huge undertaking, something that’s kind of never finishes. What other advantages will there be? Will you be putting in? Will everything be merging all the data because I’ve always wondered why we have separate silos for everything. It’s kind of because we’ve always done it that way. We’ve always had CRM data in the CRM database and Financial Planning data in the financial planning database and so on. Why can’t there just be one database? Is that your goal one database for everything?
Trent: It is? So think of? Think about all these different platforms we’re talking about almost is like microservices. And if you were to have a bit of a spiderweb, if you will, on the screen, you know, all these different platforms sit on the outside and in the middle of the spider webs, it’s redshift, it’s basically a data lake. And basically, what we do is we use an events trigger from the different platforms from Hidden Levers, the portfolio accounting system, Orion connect, Redtail, Eclipse, communities, all the different things that we have on our ecosphere, and as events are made those sync in real time up to redshift to where it it’s a central repository of of everything, right, and then when those different platforms need data, as as clients are using them as they’re logging in, whether it’s performance data, its account data, you know, everybody everything’s talking on the same page. It all has the same data points.
Trent: We actually just wrapped up last week Craig, a conference on Utah, our Fuse event and that event’s primary focus was on this piece of of our data strategy, our partnership with AWS and redshift. AWS had about a dozen people at the conference. It was small and we spent a lot of time talking with our top firms talking with custodial partners about how we can try to normalize this data and bring it all together. And then allowing our clients to spin up their own redshift clusters, to where it has all this data that I just talked about that is from Orion, but also they’re able to put in you know, their financial data for maybe QuickBooks, into the same data set and just the power of it all being there in real time and not stale, it’s really endless in the sense of the possibilities of what these firms can do with the data and the experience that we can provide within our subset of what we help them with.
Craig: I really like the Fuse conferences. I think I went to the one in Miami, like five years ago, and that was a great example of how you guys are encouraging integrations, you’re encouraging people to build stuff off your platform on top of your platform on top of your ecosystem, and expanded extend it, which is really the way of the future. And the opposite of the way the industry used to be, which is very closed and and secretive. You can’t see inside our technology. It’s our proprietary information as opposed to, hey, take what you want. We’re all in this together. We’re all going to school gonna benefit if you can build more stuff for our platform.
Trent: Great summary.
Unified Managed Accounts
Craig: One more thing I want to talk about was unified managed accounts. Now that’s always been a big topic in our industry. It’s a very complicated program, requires some very complicated portfolio management portfolio accounting. And you guys recently well, not recently more of a purchased Brinker, which was a big provider of UMAs. How did you do that integration into your core platform from what Brinker was doing?
Trent: Yeah, this is a great question. And probably what I spent most of late 2020 all the way through midway 2021 and doing personally was working on that project, but so around about seven years ago, here at Orion, we launched what we call sleeves. Which in some cases, they’re called virtual accounts or sub accounts, but basically what it was is the architecture to take that single custodial account and split that that single record up into multiple accounts on the Orion platform, even though it’s only one at the custodian and be able to manage the cash flows contributions distributions, single set rebalancing, where Hey, on just one of these sleeves, we’re just going to rebalance that one sleeve and not touch that others. So again, we rolled that out about seven years ago, and it had been highly adopted, there had been several of our clients we had partnered with to help expand that out over the years.
Trent: But there was a couple things that were missing from that piece of of technology that we had and part of when the Brinker team came aboard they really helped us with first being was the ability to put an outside managed SMA in the UMA, and what the workflow is for that. So we build out what we call an SMA portal, where our technology advisors today have access through our communities platform to different SMA providers that they can link into their UMAs. So maybe it’s like a fixed income SMA as an example and then from there, that SMA portal it sends data out every day to those SMA providers so that way they can make the trades that they need the trading solution within Orion. that Eclipse is smart enough to know that that piece of the EMA is being managed outside. It has the ability to be updated intraday from those outside managers. And so that that piece is is was really big.
Trent: The the second part of it we have a lot of firms that utilize the technology today but it takes a completely different skill set to maintain that day in and day out. And as you know Craig, it’s a lot different than managing one account by itself. And part of what the Brinker team did is they helped bring you know that expertise to our user base and so we do offer an outsourced solution in which our trade desk can help implement these UMAs for firms right and help with the construction of the portfolios help with the ongoing management of cash and cash and and cashed out and actual trading and execution. What we saw from a lot of folks is it’s like hey, we understand what this is. We know that a lot of the top firms in the industry are using it but we don’t know how to necessarily get started. And previously before Brinker we had the tech to help them do that, right. But now actually having a service that they can sign up for that helps take it off their hands and allows them to go focus on their relationships with their clients. It’s been really beneficial. We have just a stat for you Craig, we have close to 2 million accounts as part of the UMA platform today, so in seven years, there’s been a lot of accounts added to it.
Craig: Are those 2 million you may accounts with multiple sleeves or they some sort of seamlessly VMA or something hybrid.
Trent: It’s counting all the sleeves. Yeah, there’s 2 million sleeves on the platform today.
Craig: UMA sleeves. That’s tremendous. Do you know what the AUM is on that?
Trent: I don’t know off the top of my head. But one of the things I can say is a lot of the top firms that we work with that this is what they do a lot of other top AUM firms, or they have it as a subset of their business right where maybe not everything is UMA. And so yeah, I don’t have the exact number in front of me but it would be high they you know number will be very high.
Craig: We work with a lot of firms, meaning we were one of the earliest consulting firms that supported UMA implementations and configuration of system. So we’ve been working with UMA for almost 15 years and seeing the progression over the years. And the other as you mentioned, there are some firms that have UMA as a sideline as just one small program. Some broker dealers use UMA as a stepping stone for outside advisors that they bring on to their systems so they don’t have to liquidate their accounts they can just move them into the UMA, others have embraced UMA as the core chassis for all the programs and they have single sleeve UMAs where they’ll put a mutual fund wrap into one sleeve so the client doesn’t see the difference they just see that they’re in a single UMA they just see their mutual wrap. And then if they at some point they move to a higher level of of assets. They can then add more sleeves and add SMAs and things like that sort of saves a lot of repapering. UMA is improving, clearly you see UMA as imperative that you need to support and as part of the industry it’s growing quickly.
Trent: Yeah, yeah. I appreciate touching on all those use cases. You’re 100% spot on. And what you what you mentioned is really part of the beauty of the UMA and the technology behind it, you know, assuming it’s implemented correctly as the flexibility and the use cases that it’s able to help solve for and so it’s been really exciting partnering with a lot of our firms on building that out over the years.
Trent: There’s been a lot of success stories and watching a lot of firms grow with it. And we’re really pleased with what we worked on a year two years ago as part of the Brinker acquisition like what like what we talked about and just some different things that we’re talking about and speaking with other firms on what they need and as the needs continued to expand or evolve and change and how it can continue to support that.
Craig: Trent, we’ve run out of time you’ve said it all. I really appreciate it. Can you tell people where they can find more information about Orion?
Trent: Orion.com. Also, we’ve got some great content out on LinkedIn as well so you can follow us on there.
Craig: Can’t be easier than that. Orion.com. Trent, thank you so much for being here.
Trent: Craig, I appreciate the invite in the conversation. It’s been a it’s been fantastic.