Ep. 190: June WealthTech News

Come on in, sit back and relax. You’re listening to episode 190 of The Wealth Tech Today podcast. I’m your host, Craig Iskowitz, founder of Ezra Group Consulting. This podcast features, interviews, news and analysis all around the trends and backed practices of wealth management technology. Welcome to our monthly episode of News, we have the following stories: One, Pershing Insight Conference, a lot came out of that. Number two, Redtail client portal. Number three, iCapital’s new alternative investment marketplace. Number four, Smarsh and MyRepChat, Patent Fight and Federal court, number five. LPL hires new tech executives. Number six, our roundup of AI news and wealth management. Seven is the Kitces-Ezra Group map updates for June and eight are the Integration Score updates for June.

But before we get started with the news, I have a message for you. If you are the executive at a broker dealer enterprise RIA, Family office or TAMP, your tech debt is holding you back. Your old software platforms are rusty and falling apart, and they need a complete overhaul or to be replaced entirely. Your disparate systems don’t communicate with each other, and as driving your ops staff and advisors greasy with manual processes and other errors. If this describes your company and your tech infrastructure, you should run not walk to our website, ezragroupllc.com and fill out the contact us form on the homepage. Our experienced team can evaluate your technology ecosystem, deliver targeted recommendations, optimize your existing systems and operations and help you implement new software to help take your firm to the next level. You can take advantage of our free consultation by going to ezragroupllc.com. That’s Ezragroupllc.com. A few key quick housekeeping notes before we continue, we support a number of nonprofit organizations that do fantastic work for a variety of causes, and one you should check out is the Invest in Others Foundation, which you can learn more about investinothers.org. Please subscribe to this show where every listen to podcasts so you don’t miss an episode. Now, let’s kick this thing off.

Topics Covered

  1. Pershing Launches Wove Platform at the INSITE Conference
  2. Orion Fuses Client Portal Into Redtail CRM
  3. iCapital Launches ‘One-Stop Shop’ for Advisors Seeking Alt Investments
  4. Compliant text messaging vendors slug it out in patent court
  5. LPL expands technology team with two more executive hires
  6. June AI News
  7. Advisortech News
  8. Integration Scores

1. Pershing INSITE Conference

Pershing X is now Pershing Wove.

It was an eventful time spent at the Pershing INSITE 2023 conference in the first week of June. One of the biggest announcements at the conference was that Pershing X is being launched as the Pershing Wove platform. It’s been under development for the last 18 months.

It is a multi-custodial, interoperable wealth management technology platform. This is one of the first new enterprise-capable platforms on the market in quite some time, and we love competition!wealth management technology trends

I wrote an article three years ago that said 50 portfolio management systems can’t all survive. There are a lot of portfolio management applications on the market, but most of them focus on RIAs. There are very few enterprise grade, large broker dealer, large enterprise RIA, big iron platforms that can support large scale clients. We’re hoping that Wove can do that and that they’re moving into that market as well. They’re backed by BNY Mellon, one of the largest public companies, which provides strong backing and support. They are promoting  their ability to deliver a tightly integrated application to provide a seamless advisor experience.

There was a good quote in investment news from Chuck Failla, president of Sovereign Financial Group who described Pershing Wove as another example of the “tech-stodian” concept. First time I’ve heard that term. It’s a trend that is building at the moment. You have custodians expanding their technology footprint and technology players expanding into custody (like Envestnet). I view that as a positive development.

The highly competitive RIA space lends itself to these types of innovations that work to increase efficiencies. I have to agree with Chuck on that one. We had, as he mentioned most custodians have some form of technology offering, usually built around portfolio management. Certainly the big three, Pershing, Fidelity and Schwab, and even the ones below that, the next tier of TradePMR, Altruist, Apex have very strong tech platforms. It’s not new that custodians are getting into tech.

Envestnet recently announced that they are going to be offering custody in partnership with FNZ. We are seeing tech players getting into custody but custodians have always offered tech. What they haven’t offered is multi-custodial technology, because it oftentimes not in their best interest to do that since their revenue is primarily from custody. But Pershing is bucking the trend.

There was a couple of good reviews of the platform you can read online, in depth reviews of the feature functionality that came out in this version. There’s going to be more in the future, and we’ve seen the roadmap and it is impressive. They’ve really pulled out all the stops in building out this platform. Of course, the first version can’t have everything in it.

You can read a good review of Wove at the T3 Technology Hub, by Joel Bruckenstein talking about some of the things that aren’t there yet. According to Joel, multi-custodial capabilities are not fully built out. Notifications are limited to native Wove applications. Straight through processing of trades is not available, nor is location sensitive, tax sensitive rebalancing at the household level. Again, not surprised. These are complicated features that I wouldn’t expect in the 1.0 version of the platform.

Pershing has made it clear that they are going to be adding third party applications and integrations to their platform, but not like TD Ameritrade did, where it was a smorgasbord of every application. They’re only adding ones that are best of breed, in their opinion. Wove currently supports only two financial planning applications, MoneyGuide and Conquest. Conquest is headquartered in Canada and was originally built for the Canadian market. Pershing made an investment in Conquest, and is integrating with them and working to build financial planning tightly into Wove.

Pershing also announced collaborations with a number of other firms integrating with Wove, including, Pontera for held away assets, pure facts or billing and the Salesforce for CRM. What level of integration these, firms will have into what we don’t know yet, but based on what the CEO Ainsley Simmonds is saying, it should be seamless with a lot of abilities for advisors to use them inside the platform. One of the biggest benefits of the Wove platform is it will support multiple custodians.

There’s some questions about how exactly this will work. Most tech vendors have to single sign-on (SSO) into Fidelity and Schwab’s websites to complete new account opening and onboarding workflows. That’s a bit of a bifurcated user experience for advisors that they are in the application going through the process, and they need to switch over to the custodian website to finish their workflow. That’s a bit of a pain.

It’s been that way for many years, but a pain for a lot of RIAs that we work with. We’re not really sure why Fidelity and Schwab required that. Most of the vendors I spoke to didn’t speak on the record. Again, I’m not a journalist, I’m just a consultant with a blog, but they didn’t want to comment. I guess they don’t want to rock the boat with their partners at Fidelity and Schwab. Now, I did speak directly to Ainslie Simmons, CEO of Wove, when I was at the INSITE conference, and she confirmed that they’ve negotiated agreements with both Fidelity and Schwab to gain direct API access to not only account opening, but also other functionalities such as money movement and intraday cash updates, things like that.

Sounds like they are going to be building a very tightly integrated, seamless experience that may be different than other vendors, or maybe not. Maybe they’re leaving a little bit of wiggle room here, that they’re going to do it very similar and that they’ll open the accounts most of the way and then hand off to the custodian. We do not know, we’ll have to wait and see how that works.

Other aspects that came out of the Pershing conference that I liked, a revamped NetX Investor portal with integrated real-time chat with advisors or operations, and lots of other integrations including financial planning tools like MoneyGuidePro. They also redesigned many of the screens to display more data, with more intuitive layouts on the NetX Investor portal. They also launched a no code configuration tool for the NetX Investor portal where you can customize the look and feel using a basic wizard rather than having to deal with developers or call Pershing.

Another cool thing I liked about that was presented a Pershing demoed to me, built into NetX360+is next best actions. This will be useful for a lot of firms where you can look across all of your clients and it sorts them by a proprietary algorithm that shows which clients have actions they recommend that you take. Those could be things like, hey, this client’s been depositing money to a specific account for saving or for retirement or for a college for X number of months or years, and they stopped. Is there something wrong? Or this client has a CD rolling over, or this client has been on the client portal 15 times today, maybe you should call them.

Those types of data being gathered across the entire user base of an RIA or a Broker Dealer could be useful for advice to help them identify outliers, identify tasks that they need to take care of. We’re expecting to see a lot more of this type of technology, both next best actions as well as chatbots large language learning models where you can interact with the platform just through a chat interface. My client lost their debit card, what’s the right form to replace it? Just type it in English into the chatbot and it returns the information you need. That’s the future. Reducing customer support requirements by empowering users to talk directly to the application.

The INSITE Conference was a productive and informative event. We really enjoyed seeing the Wove Platform. Looking forward to the next versions as they add more capabilities.

2. Orion Fuses Client Portal Into Redtail CRM

Our next story in the news, Orion launches a new client portal for Redtail CRM. I’m working on an article and the article’s going to be called, Don’t Bring Me Another Client Portal. The reason that’s called that is that was a conversation I was having with a broker dealer client. When someone brought up a new client portal offering, not this one, the CTO of the broker dealer said, “Don’t Bring Me Another Client Portal”. That’s the last thing we need.

The reason is most firms, and if you’re out there, if you’re running a wealth management firm, you know exactly what I’m talking about. You’ve got minimum two, most likely three portals. One is your custodian portal, number two is your portfolio management system and three is often financial planning software like eMoney or MoneyGuidePro. That’s three portals!

Many RIAs that have this problem, and when their clients log into their website they’re presented with three options: Do you want to check your portfolio holdings? Click here. Do you want to look at your financial plan? Click here. Do you want to check your Custodian statements? Click here. It’s confusing for clients.

There are already a lot of client portals on the market.  If you take a look at the Kitces-Ezra Group Advisortech map, which you can find, every month on Kitces.com, there is a client portal category, and we have seven products there. You might be thinking, well, seven’s not too many. Well, that’s just the ones that are only client portals. Because on the map, every vendor can only have one logo (with a few exceptions).

The seven logos in the client portal category are just products that are only client portal. However, there are 11 All-in-One platforms that have a client portal as part of the platform. Three, financial planning tools. that’s besides eMoney, which is also in the client portal categories (another exception). Three other financial planning tools have a client portal.

Then there’s 22 custodial platforms and broker dealer platforms that also have client portals. Let’s say seven and 11 is 18, and three is 21, and 22 is 43. So 43 different portal choices, plus you’ve got client file sharing options like Box.com, Dropbox, Sharefile, that would be another website clients have to go to. Lots of options for firms to have to pick and choose between.

Back to this new CRM portal from Orion, according to the company, it’s the industry’s first CRM with a connected client portal. Orion acquired Redtail Technology back in 2022, and with that acquisition, they were able to procure the services of the wonderfully lovely and talented Brian McLaughlin, founder and former CEO of Redtail who is now president of Orion Advisor Tech.  Brian gave me the opportunity to speak with him about this new portal. (See Ep. 138: Orion Advisor Buys Redtail Technology with Kristen Schmidt)

It sounds great, like everything we’d ever want, it’s flexible, it’s expandable, it’s integratable, it should be able to handle a lot of the things that firms are using multiple portals for, assuming they can get it all built out. Orion of course, already has both a client portal and an advisor portal. This will be another portal for Redtail clients and whether, how they handle it, I would imagine they’ll merge their existing client portal with the Redtail portal in some way, shape, or form.

According to, Brian, there will be beautiful engagement for account onboarding through the portal. You’ll be able to look at financial planning features and reports. You’ll be able to look at your portfolio tied in on that portal. Advisors will be able to customize or the configure their own portals, turning on and off features. Hopefully, through some sort of wizard or simplified configuration option. The new portal will be available to all Redtail clients by the end of June. That’s this month. For pricing, all Redtail plans will include the client portal, which I’m sure makes broker-dealers happy.

When they first announced the acquisition, they said there’s about 2,000 or so clients that use either Redtail or Orion, but not both. That’s a huge upsell opportunity for both firms. Existing Orion clients get Redtail technology included in their package, so it’s basically free. It also will include the Redtail Speak product, which is their texting compliance tool.

Just going through my notes here with Brian. Couple of interesting points, I didn’t want to forget. Advisors can also launch the Orion proposal generation tool and the new account opening wizard directly from the new Redtail CRM, allowing them to create and deliver proposals in a fraction of the time while streamlining the account opening process. We love integrations here at Ezra Group. The more integrations we see, the happier we are. It’s always better for advisors if they can stay inside their application of choice and access other features and functionality. We talked about integrations, we talked about other opportunities here.

One of the things I was always interested in with Redtail and I’m glad I got to talk to Brian about it, is the issues we had with Redtail lacking enterprise features. For example, each Redtail database, if you are a broker dealer and you’ve got a bunch of OSJs working underneath your corporate RIA, if each one has their own Redtail version, those instances are discreet. There’s no way to roll that data up. If you wanted to see a consolidated report across all of your clients across all these different OSJs, you can’t do it because each Redtail instance is discreet.

However, with Orion’s new integration with Amazon Redshift, they can now pull data right out of Redtail, suck it into Redshift and pump it into something like Salesforce. Usually the home office at a broker dealers uses Salesforce while individual RIAs will use Redtail. We always set a big issue yet to export the Redtail databases by hand, put them into something else, move them over, massage it, big pain. But if this works the way Brian says it works, it’s going to be much easier to build consolidated reporting for broker dealers, TAMPs, RIA aggregators that have multiple RIA practices underneath them that have discrete Redtail instances.

We’re looking forward to the new Redtail CRM portal. If it can do everything it says it can do that, it will unify a lot of the capabilities that advisors have to launch multiple portals for. If it can handle all these functionality inside of one portal, we would appreciate that.

3. iCapital Launches ‘One-Stop Shop’ for Advisors Seeking Alt Investments

And the next story we have on the June News, iCapital launches a one-stop shop for advisors seeking alternative investments. A recent study shows that 70% of advisors are using alternative investments in their client portfolios. Advisors are currently allocating average of 7% of their assets to alternatives, and they anticipate increase in this allocation to 10% over the next two years, revealing a growing interest in the category. I also checked into a couple of the surveys and they’re all showing around the same number, 67, 68, 70% of advisors using alternatives, which is up from 59% in the first quarter of 2022, so definitely rising.

Market volatility is driving more interest in alternatives, and we’re seeing a lot more firms like iCapital launch marketplaces that enable and facilitate advisors access to a wide variety of different alternatives.

For example, global alternative assets under management are expected to increase to $23 trillion by the end of 2027, up from $14 trillion at the end of 2021, according to the latest Preqin data. That’s a huge market for alternatives.

Given the S&P has not been faring well recently, more investors are seeking alternatives as also for things that aren’t tied to the S&P. We’re even seeing articles in Forbes about alternative investments.

The new iCapital Marketplace was developed using firm proprietary and patented technology, noting the platform provides an all-digital investor experience that bridges the structural divide that has historically separated asset managers, advisors, and clients from alternative investments. There’s lots of other tools out there that we’ve been seeing, that iCapital is now joining this club to have with this marketplace. Other marketplaces such as CAIS, Halo, Luma, Simon, and Joe Lonsdale‘s new platform called Opto Invetsments. Certainly a lot of new platforms out there, giving advisors more choices.

4. Compliant Text Messaging Vendors Slug it out in Patent Court

Compliant text messaging vendors slug it out in federal court over a patent dispute. Text messaging has become a critical channel for client communications. Recent surveys show that 80% of all consumers prefer to use messaging to communicate with businesses and text messages have a 98% open rate compared to email which only has a 20% open rate. 90% of text messages are read within three minutes of receiving them. Those are pretty impressive numbers.

It’s important for advisors to be able to text with their clients, and for it to be compliant. Firms are required to make these communication methods compliant using software with sophisticated capabilities, including archiving every text that goes in or out. Other important features include also lexicon blocking certain messages or phrases, customizable workflows, automatic regulatory updates, and of course, archiving integrations with archiving tools or other different systems. Those are some of the key aspects of the different software that are compliant messaging tools.

The vendors that provide the tech behind some of the two of the biggest vendors in your space, or the other technology, behind vendors called products Smarsh and MyRepChat. The technology is provided by two different companies. One is called CellTrust. They provide the tech behind Smarsh’s text messaging archiving, and a company called ionlake for builds technology and their product is called MyRepChat. CellTrust sued ionlake for patent infringement.

According to the article, and this is the only one I’ve seen on this, so there could be other context I may be missing. I apologize if anyone wants to fact check this article in InvestmentNews. Smarsh is the leader  in the communication compliance category. But then MyRepChat started coming on and grabbing a lot of business, closing some deals, and according to the article, then CellTrust decided to sue them.

They sued them for $2 million claiming patent infringement for violating their patents on archiving text messages. But a federal grand jury found that, not only did ionlake not infringe on CellTrust patents, but those patents were invalid.

This article does not provide a detailed description of the case, but it sounds like CellTrust wasn’t patenting specific code, but a process for archiving text messages. I’ve got an opinion on this in general. I don’t like patenting processes. Process is something that anybody should be able to do. The patent process should be for specific technology you create to solve a problem, not the process for solving the problem.

Again, just my opinion, a patent attorney may see it differently, but if this is truly what CellTrust patents are about just the process of archiving text messages for advisors, I don’t see that I agree with the jury that those are invalid. That’s the opposite of what the patent system’s for. This is squashing innovation or squashing competition, not protecting specific technology that you built.

In the end, no direct impact on anyone here, no one’s going out of business. Although there were attorney’s fees that maybe ionlake can recover?

Smarsh and MyRepChat keeps selling their products, and you can find them Smarsh.com and Myrepchat.com.

5. LPL expands technology team with two more executive hires

LPL Financial a broker dealer, which supports over 21,000 financial advisors announced Thursday that it added Nitesh Ambastha and Kristie Edling-Day as Executive Vice Presidents and group Chief Information Officers. Ambastha will oversee technology experience for investors, while Edling-Day will handle the digital experience for advisors, that means she’s in charge of ClientWorks.

This is big in my mind because we interact a lot with ClientWorks through firms we work with that are under the LPL umbrella also LPL we’ve done some work for as well. A ClientWorks platform has improved over the years, become a highly capable, fully end-to-end wealth management platform. Edling-Day, who’s now in charge of ClientWorks, joins LPL after 17 years at Vanguard, where she most recently served as the Chief Information Officer and head of technology for the asset manager, financial advisor services and institutional investor groups.

Ambastha will focus on delivering new products for prospects and client management, custodian clearing services, practice management, and wealth planning. He will also lead investor facing functionality in the accountant view client portal Ambastha joins LPL from JP Morgan, where he was their Chief Technology Officer. This has become common for LPL and they’ve been hiring a lot of executives from wirehouses.

For example, they hired Vivek Pappu, former head of advisor platforms at Merrill, and they also hired Kabir Sethi, who was a Merrill’s head of Digital Wealth and now he’s Chief Product Officer for LPL. You can check out our interviews with some of LPLs executives. For example, Episode 164 was with Kabir Sethi and Episode 158 was with John Rajes, and we spoke about the Affinity program, which is how third party vendors get access to client works with integrations. It’s a great listen on that, that podcast because of how important it is to understand how the Affinity program works. If you want to get access to 21,000 potential advisors for your software, knowing how to get into the Affinity program and knowing. What you need to do, how your software needs to be able to integrate is important.

We covered that with John and it’s also why it’s important to hear the bringing new executive on, in Kristie Edling-Day to run client work. So looking forward to seeing the changes coming forth in the client works platform. 

6. June AI News

Due to the overwhelming number of products out there in the Wealthtech space Advisortech space, that are building AI features, we decided to create a dedicated segment during the news just for AI stories.

Leveraging Data with Artificial Intelligence

The first AI story is from the Pershing INSITE Conference, there was a breakout panel called Leveraging Data with Artificial Intelligence. There are two speakers and I’ve got some notes here, unfortunately, I don’t know which one said which, but I’ll tell you who the speakers were. There was Priya Gore, Managing Director of Data and AI at Microsoft, and Susan Emerson, SPV Global AI and Analytics from Salesforce. Just note we’ll be having Susan on the podcast in a couple weeks.

Top five barriers to AI adoption and wealth management:

  1. Cost of the technology
  2. Lack of trained staff.
  3. Not enough supporting infrastructure.
  4. Lack of adequate testing.
  5. Concerns about trust and ethics.

Some other great points made during this panel. Every public company should expect to be asked about their AI strategy on their next analyst call. Don’t put your corporate data into a public AI model like ChatGPT or Google’s bard or anything. If you do, you’re basically handing over the right to use your data for learning and to generate new content. Your corporate governances must be in place and enforced when it comes to AI.

Catchlight using AI for email generation

Second AI story is Catchlight using AI for email generation. Catchlight is a software company we’ve covered before on this podcast and also on the blog you can check out.  We recently had them on Episode 146, Leveraging Artificial Intelligence to Improve Prospecting for Advisors.

Catchlight is a tool that improves the prospecting process for advisors. It reviews the pipeline of prospective clients and then prioritizes them in a way that they believe is more conducive to closing deals and provides the prospects that are higher propensity to close or to convert based on their financial complexity. It’s a great tool.

It’s gained decent traction with advisors and now they have a new feature, AI generated emails that advisors can send to prospective clients. It’s built into the platform. It leverages generative AI in conjunction with their lead insights to create emails that are personalized to each prospect.

Each email is unique and advisors can make edits or generate a new one based on their objectives. It’s an evolution of the whole prospect engagement process, which I think is going to be changing significantly as tools like Catchlight become more popular and become integrated with all the popular CRMs and makes it ubiquitous for every advisor to have these kind of recommendations. Sort of a next best action for prospecting.

FMG launches ChatGPT integration for generating social media captions

Next up, FMG launches ChatGPT integration for generating social media captions. Another great use for generative ai. anything around social media, working on editing, blog posts, summarizing posts, summarizing or expanding on bullets. Both those areas are great for a generative AI model where we use it at Ezra Group. When we do a blog post, we often use, run it through a ChatGPT to summarize it, to pull up the top bullet points. We also, when we’re doing projects for clients, our strategy work, we usually transcribe every call record and transcribe every call for the clients, and we do a summary of the call. The software that’s doing the summary is getting much better. I mean, we’re doing fewer and fewer edits on these meeting summaries. It’s getting much more powerful. So FMG, which is the digital marketing firm, financial advisors, announcing new enhancement where, they already offer social media content for advisors, but now they’re offering captions, the ability to build the caption. Normally the, the social media rather the content curation tool like FMG would provide a bunch of social media choices, content for an advisor to post either blog posts or newsletters or post on different channels file, whether it’s Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn and so forth. But the advisor would have to write their own their own, caption about the content. Now they’re using a generative AI and they’re personalizing what they’re calling the voice print profile. Well, it’s more of the text print profile. It’s how the advisor writes. They say they’re capturing information, learning their model’s learning about how we should, advisor likes to talk, or how they like to write when they’re talking to clients, writing to clients, and it’s modifying the output based on that. Love to see if that’s, if that’s working the way they say. I thought you really need a lot of information, hundreds of data points before you can deliver that type of learned output. But maybe they’ve got something better, so you can check them out at FMG.com.

Pulse360 launches AI Writer

Next up, Pulse360 launches AI Writer. Pulse 360 is software that automates meetings for advisors, automates all the, all the tasks around prepping for meetings, executing meetings, and following up on meetings. Saves a lot of time, it’s very efficient software. They’ve added a generative AI, addition to their software, which is specifically trained for the way advisors communicate. Similar to what FMG is doing, but this is for all advisors. So you can of course, go to any generative AI or ChatGPT and, and ask it to, to summarize something or to condense something, and it’ll do a decent job. But what Pulse360 did was train their version of generative AI and just the advisor’s world. So it should deliver much better and more accurate output that requires less editing than the vanilla ChatGPT, which was trained on a wide range of data across multiple industries and casual and formal. What they’re calling rephrase at Pulse 360, which you can find Pulse360.com is available to anyone using the software and allows you to write more concisely to condense longer communication that you’re saying to a client or expand a couple of bullets into a full paragraph. Very handy for advisors to make technical advice easier to read and vice versa. Check him out at Pulse360.com.

Orion Reveals ChatGPT Integration

Our last AI story, Orion Reveals ChatGPT integration. With their purchase of Redtail, which we mentioned in an earlier story, Redtail had been working on some artificial intelligence features for a number of years. I’ve spoken to Brian McLaughlin about it in the past, and now they’re coming out with this generative AI extension that’s going to be plugged into Redtail Speak, their compliant texting platform. That also links back to an earlier story when we were talking about compliant texting.

A third of advisors already view AI as the most disruptive technology trend facing the industry, and I think that stat came from before last November when generative AI exploded. Bringing ChatGPT extension into Redtail Speak is going to be helpful for advisors. What they’re saying is that they can see the potential to feed data points into the system, and the AI will suggest ways that advisors can talk about portfolio analytics that go beyond traditional reports.

Brian McLaughlin, the president of Orion Advisor Tech, said Speak was the most natural place to put that because it’s conversational. He doesn’t think they have any deadlines per se, but they want to make sure they go and explore all the different avenues as quickly as possible. That should be out soon. And that’s a wrap for our AI segment of the news.

7. Advisortech Map Updates

Now one of my favorite parts of the news is talking about the Kitces-Ezra Group Advisortech map updates for this month. There are lot of changes coming next month. Not so many new products, but category changes. This is something Michael and I do on a regular basis, ad hoc as things occur in the market, new products come on, new features and functionality. Vendors are acquired and other types of activity. It changes the nature of the industry and changes the nature of the map as well.

As more products come out in certain categories. We may expand the categories, contract them, change them just to make it more, because again, this is a tool for advisors, so we want to make it as helpful and as useful as possible.

This month, we changed the category of proposal generation to sales enablement. A lot of that was driven by the Riskalyze rebrand to Nitrogen and to a growth platform, which we consider a part of sales enablement because then now this Nitrogen platform, they used to be in risk tolerance and data analytics.

The growth platform is not just a risk tolerance platform anymore, nor is it just investment analytics anymore. Nitrogen also has propgen, but that category alone doesn’t describe the full capabilities of the new platform. Also a lot of tools also offer on the capabilities besides just proposal generation. Prop Gen is now sales enablement.

And I expect a lot more firms to find new ways to help advisors nurture prospects. As Nitrogen put it, they sit between the marketing tool and the investment management platform and sit on top of the CRM where they provide that added value in between there. A lot of these other tools also do a similar capability set. Sales enablement new and nitrogen is now moved there. They’re no longer in the risk tolerance category, or I’m just double check before I say this. They’re no longer in investment data analytics, but you can find them in the Advisortech directory, which is also on kitces.com. In the directory, since it’s a database, you can have as many secondary categories as you want. On the map, you only get one category.

Other changes include changing student loan / specialized planning to Education, which I think fits a lot better for some of these tools, because they weren’t all student loan related educational tools.

The final change Social Media Archiving category has been changed to Communications Archiving, since there’s other types of archiving. Texting is not social media, but that archiving is included. Websites not social media is also included in this archiving and other types of things. General generic communications archiving is now the category. Products that were added to the map this month.

There were also seven new products this month.

  1. Optivice, was added to specialized planning. It’s a debt and loan management tool.
  2. Caribou was added to specialized planning healthcare.
  3. GReminders is an automated scheduling and reminder solution for professionals and they’re added to scheduling.
  4. Raymond James was added to the custodial platform section. This is their RIA custody unit, with their own technology platform. 
  5. CurrentClient is an advice engagement tool around client education. They want you to keep connecting with your clients after you onboard them, keep nurturing them. This isn’t sales enablement, even though it’s nurturing. It’s more of, as we mentioned, advice, engagement and it’s a lot of it is about education.
  6. Monarch has been added to the client portal section. It is a client portal with personal financial tools. I didn’t meet with the team behind Monarch and I believe one of the founders came from Mint. It was one of the original people in mint.com, so clearly a lot of knowledge about personal financial management and they have built this tool. I even signed up, they gave me a free trial to test it out. It looks pretty cool, so check it. 

Product adds and removals. We do remove applications from the Advisor tech map when they go out of business, which is rare, or when they’re acquired, which is much more common.

Two products were removed. TwentyOverTen was removed from Advisor LeadGen since they were acquired by digital marketing software provider FMG.  Genivity was removed from Specialized Planning Healthcare after they were acquired by advice engagement tool, Lumiant.

Before I finish this segment, someone posted, when we post the map update every month. I can’t remember if this was on LinkedIn or Twitter, but someone posted a response to the latest map, “Hey, this market looks really fragmented because there’s so many vendors on the map.” 

My reply was that this map is not market share based. Although it’s something Michael and I are talking about, how to show more on the map and show market share, maybe by reordering the logos left to right, upper left to lower right as market share or make the logos bigger or smaller.

I often joke with Michael about the size of logos. If I was starting a company, I would call it Craig Iskowitz Wonderful FinTech Amazing Company and make the logo all those words. Because it would take up the whole map with my logo!

If you take a look at the map, you see that some logos stand out because of how they’re designed. And those companies aren’t necessarily the ones that have the most market share. In most of these categories, there’s two or three leaders that have a significant portion of the market. But we put every logo on the map. As long as you can demonstrate you have a website and you are selling software to advisors, we’re going to put you on the map.

We can’t keep you off because the idea is to show advisors all the choices and someone new with no market share. Maybe something interesting that advisors want to work with. We’re not judging the capabilities or the strengths and weaknesses of any of the applications. It’s not a fragmented market, although more choice is always a good thing.

8. Integration Scores

The final segment of the news is the integration score update. This is my favorite part of the news, talking about integrations.

What did we change? We always update our integration scores in sync with the Kitces Ezra Group Advisor Tech map. The new products on the map now will all be scored and available on Ezra Group website on our Wealth Tech integration scores page. You can check out the scores of all these products.

We also update scores as vendors release new integrations, assuming they let us know and we’ll update their scores accordingly. There’s a bunch these, 16 or 20 updates this month as vendors added more integrations or built out existing integrations. The depth of the integration is the most important part of our scoring methodology. That’s 50% of the score. The breadth and usability criteria together are 50%. So building one deep integration is going to get you a larger increase in your score than building five single sign-ons, for example.

Every quarter we’re going to look at the methodology and see if we need to tweak it a bit to make it more accurate. This is the first update since last August when we came out with the integration score. What we changed was to make it more accurate and encourage deeper integrations.

The scoring methodologies is based on three underlying criteria, depth, breadth, and usability. We modified depth to include all integrations rather than just focusing on a group of 25 or 30 key applications. We also increased the benefit if you have any integrations with a depth of four or five. We want to encourage that and then and discourage the spamming of integrations.

The end result of that change was firms that had fewer integrations, but deeper integrations saw their scores go up a little bit. Also firms that had some deep integrations, but a lot of lower integrations weren’t penalized. Because if you would use a straight average, let’s say I had two integrations, one’s a level five, one’s level one, just average them together, that’s a three. But a level five integration is way harder to build than a level one, so we wanted to give them some benefit for that. There’ll be some offsetting of level fives, for some lower integrations, which will slightly increase the score for firms that have deeper integrations.

We changed the breadth criteria slightly. Again, it’s only 25% so it doesn’t impact it as much as depth, and we also expanded usability a lot. The reason we did that was to focus more on the capabilities of APIs and the documentation and support for developers.

Because just having an API doesn’t mean anything if the developers can’t use it. If there isn’t enough documentation, if there isn’t sample code, if there isn’t a developer sandbox, if you’re not using good authentication software like OAuth, then the APIs aren’t as useful. We expanded the data we’re gathering under usability. Again, it’s only 25% of the score, but it does increase some scores slightly or decrease scores slightly if they don’t have those capabilities.

You can look everything we spoke about there and keep up to date on the WealthTech Integration Scores.

Before I forget, you are a Wealthtech vendor, please reach out to us to make sure you fill out a survey so we have enough accurate data about your integrations. Because right now, when we do our scores, we’re only going based on publicly available information, such as on your website. If you have other integrations that aren’t on your website, please reach out to us, integrations@ezragroupllc.com and we’ll get you a survey link and you can fill out the survey and give us all the information about your integrations. I guarantee your score will go up because we’ll have more information. If we don’t have the information, we can’t accurately score you.

All right. Well, congratulations, you’ve reached the end of another episode of the WealthTech Today podcast. Thanks for listening. Please go to our website, EzraGroupllc.com, scroll to the bottom of the homepage and subscribe to our newsletter. Once a month, you’ll receive an email chat full of wealth management, goodness news, information updates. You will not be disappointed. Thanks again for listening and talk to you all again next time.



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