Ep. 202: TruView: An Advisor Experience Platform with Amit Dogra

Come on in and sit back and relax. You’re listening to Episode 201 of the WealthTech Today podcast. I’m your host, Craig Iskowitz, founder of Ezra Group Consulting. This podcast features interviews, news and analysis on the trends and best practices, all about wealth management technology.

My guest for this episode is Amit Dogra, President at RIA aggregator tru Independence. Amit has been at tru Independence for almost two years and he came to his current role from Sanctuary Wealth where he was the chief experience officer. Before that he was CEO at Third Seven Advisors and national independent RIA, and previously he was managing director National Head of relationship management at Hightower for four years. Amit has a lot more earlier experience that cycle through places like BNY Mellon and SEI he spent his entire career in wealth management and I really enjoy interviewing industry lifers like Amit.

But before we get started, if you are an executive at a broker-dealer, enterprise RIA, family office or a TAMPs, your tech debt is holding you back. Your old software platforms are rusty and falling apart and they need either a complete overhaul or to be replaced entirely. Your disparate systems don’t communicate with each other and it’s driving your operations staff and advisors crazy with manual processes and other errors.

If this describes your company, you should run, not walk to our website, EzraGroup.com and fill out the Contact Us form on the home page. Our experienced team can evaluate your technology ecosystem, deliver targeted recommendations, optimize your existing systems and operations, or run an RFP or RFI to help you implement new software to help take your firm to the next level.

Topics Mentioned

  • Growing by Leaps and Bounds
  • TruView Launch, Experience as a Service
  • TruView Construction and Integrations
  • Tru Independence Competitors

Episode Transcript

Craig: Good afternoon.

Amit: Good afternoon.

Craig: Where are you calling from?

Amit: I am calling from outside of Philadelphia home, the suburbs of Philadelphia, Phoenixville, if you’re familiar with that area.

Craig: Phoenixville? Yep. I grew up in Cherry Hill.

Amit: No kidding. Right across the bridge. In fact, best friend from high school lives in Cherry Hill, so I get over there still a good amount.

Craig: Alright. My mother still lives there, so I go there every couple weeks.

Amit: Awesome. Well, thank you for having me on. I appreciate that. When Tommy said, Hey, Amit, we’ve got a chance to have you spend time with Craig. I was excited.

Craig: I’m surprised we haven’t met before. Have we met before, like in person somewhere?

Amit: Or two ships passing in the night, Craig. I will absolutely say to my own fault, I have seen you at events and said, oh, I should make a minute to go over. Hey, wait, look at that shiny object and got distracted.

Craig: Squirrel!

Amit: Exactly. Ooh, squirrel. So Tru, I’ve been here for just a little bit over a year and a half prior to joining Tru, I worked at Hightower, what I call the 1.0 era when Elliot was there.

Craig: Oh, yeah.

Amit: Helped grow the firm from $13 to $40 billion. I was head of advisor growth, organic growth, M&A and a technical strategy as well as relationship management, business consulting branding, marketing PR. I ended up running the group right up until my departure, which was 165 advisors, $40 billion, $150 million plus of revenue for the firm before the 2.0 Bob Oros got ushered in that ended up over at Sanctuary, where helped Jim Dixon, now no longer there, understand the blueprint for not attracting breakaway advisors, but retaining breakaway advisors. I was the Chief experience officer there and help build the strategy around how and when we wanted to take money and what that was going to look like. After that ended up, taking some time off and ended up at Tru.

Amit: At Tru, I’m the President and Chief Operating Oficer, driving the growth of the company, as well as fortifying the operational infrastructure here at Tru. It’s a fantastic organization with great human talent and a great culture. As the bedrock of a firm, what the other place to build on, and that’s just what we’ve done.

Going into this year, we were $9 billion of AUM, we’ve already papered over $3 billion of AUM and we’ll add another, fingers crossed if everything goes according to plan. Well, another $3 billion for sure. So we’ve got $2 billion already penciled. We’re looking for that. Another billion and if that works out we’ll, papered another $6 billion, so we’ll be at $15 billion. So, 66% growth in one year is not the worst thing to —

Craig: I don’t know, can’t complain about that.

Amit: Yes. If we miss and we hit north of 50, I guess we’ll take as well.

Craig: You’ll deal with it.

Amit: We’ll deal with it. We’re excited.

Craig: How do you avoid being overwhelmed and having everything fall apart?

Growing by Leaps and Bounds

Amit: There’s two things that come of that. One is which is why we love the business, because while you sign an advisor, you’re not always transitioning right in that moment. It’s not technology in that way, it’s that instant. You’re not instantly ingesting it.

We hired a Head of Growth. And Craig Stuvland, our founder and CEO, and I fully agree that, let’s bend but not break and let’s get ahead of it. Between January and March, we hired 10 people, so we’re fortified. Then the other piece is how we structure the business, which is a little bit different on the operational side. This industry is weird around how we shape segments of the business like transitions.

Amit: A lot of firms have a transition team. My question is, why? Isn’t transition just service in an acute format? Yes. You’re preparing to come and then you have them come and then you leave. Well, there’s relationship capital, there’s institutional capital, there’s just knowledge. There’s things that just get lost that you don’t know, that you don’t know when you change that.

From our perspective, we’ve pushed transitions into our regions, and so we have pods or regions: East, Midwest and West. The transitions are done by the service team. So that after break day you’re getting your transition and your service from the same team, and all that relationship capital, that institutional knowledge carries on with you. I don’t know why. It’s one of those things that the industry has decided to bifurcate.

TruView Launch, Experience as a Service

Amit: But we’ve done that. And so you get to learn the teams, you get to learn the advisors, and a lot of times you’re learning together on some of that stuff. By hiring a Head of Growth, keeping the transitions within our regions, the acclimation process is high, and the adoption rate is high.

The other way that we’ve fortified what we’ve done is our approach from a fintech perspective. I had the pleasure of talking with Joel Bruckenstein before T3 and said to Joel, I said, look, I think the industry is moving back. And I can look to quotes from Eric Clarke or Bill Crager or anybody else that says they’re not interested in M&A. They’re looking at ingesting what they have and creating a single source code type platform, or at least an integrated platform.

Amit: Like Redtail, Orion, or Envestnet, what they have been trying to do forever and continue to try to do. We went out and said, look, we want to either build a technology or that is already in that game. We went out and said, what are the things that matter the most to people? It’s fintech that works. Access to great human talent, and people who understand the relational the relational value of an advisor and a client. Why that’s so important. Everyone talks why that’s important, but if it’s truly that important, you would run your business differently. Those three characteristics, Craig, that behavioral finance, that Fintech, that human talent combined with the spirit and a legacy of innovation is what we’ve rebranded as experience not what we’ve rebranded as experience as a service.

Amit: Joel Bruckenstein, when I share that with him, said, Amit, you gave words to the thing that the industry is trying to chase, but didn’t know how to articulate. I took that as the most highest praise I could possibly get coming from Joel so I was excited to hear that. We knew we were marching down the right path. And then you start to do that, what you find is advisors are aligning with you and say, that sounds different. That’s what I want. That aligns with what I’m thinking. That’s how I want the business to be done. We developed TruView, which is our fintech platform to help advisors in a single source code manner. The analogy that we use Craig is, what we did was we leveraged and we leveraged from other industries.

Amit: Let’s use the automotive industry as our example. If you look at Toyota and Lexus, the car is the same chassis, but just different badges. You’ve got Hyundai and Kia, the same chassis, different badges, Nissan, Infiniti, same chassis, different badge, Volkswagen, Audi, same chassis, different badges, and it goes on and on and on. We found a chassis that we found that was out there, that worked, that delivered on what we wanted, which was built from the ground up, single source code technology that was intuitive and simple to use. And wasn’t the patchwork quilt of API or the lie of open architecture when mostly people talk about at best is single sign on through a dashboard. How do we get there to that point?

Amit: We went out and said, we can do it ourselves, and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and realized that this was not going to work for us, or we could partner with someone. We partnered with Advise On, and so Advyzon powers TruView, and we have upgraded it, just like in the car analogy. We put our own badging on it. Our own help desk is embedded in the technology. Our carousel of information is embedded into the technology. Our metrics that matter to our advisors is embedded in the technology. So that homepage is business metrics. It’s Tru specific, it’s everything that they need to integrate with us and interact with us as well as things for their business. We’ve customized it to a high degree. And we have found that TruView has been the game changer in beating our competitors, and experience as a service is what advisors want and deliver. We continue to see this, and as Tommy will tell you is, as we get that adoption, we continue to grow and grow and add advisors. It’s building on that spirit of innovation, and we’re excited about where we’re going to go with that. That’s my teaser for you.

TruView Construction and Integrations

Craig: That’s a great teaser. So with Advyzon, what parts of your business is running on Advyzon, I realize they have a full platform, but–

Amit: Yes, we’re taking the whole thing. We took the whole thing, and we’ve customized it, and so the way we’ve done it is like, we’re now 11 billion as the assets continue to transfer, it grows by the day. But our legacy business, roughly around 8 billion, Craig, sits on the disparate technology of Orion or a Black Diamond and cut supplemented with a Wealthbox or a Redtail. And what the reason why we made this move was advisors who are on those disparate technologies that on it, there’s got to be a better way. Tru, it’s on you as our business partner to help find that, and that’s what we set out to do. When we tested and I looked at a lot, circle Black best, mark all of them, I looked at all of them.

Amit: The reason why we settle on advisor is that integrated CRM with the performance reporting, even the investment management piece of it new, which is very new, which we’ve private labeled Tru Investment management. You add that in there when the client portal, and then you have the deep integration with like a Money Guide Pro or, or a Right capital or I did not want to call them by their old name, Nitrogen, added in there. It’s all two-way. It’s not just single, it’s not just integrated. It’s two-way information, and we’re adding behavioral financial planning tools like Lumiant to the mix. Our goal is to have a unique version, a unique instance that puts us in a category of one. And when we talk to advisors, that’s where we’re at.

Craig: That’s a great staying. It puts us into a category of one.

Amit: Yes, Craig. I’ll actually say, while that’s a great staying, I think the thing that we’re most excited about is we had a phone call and I’ll protect the guilty a bit. From some of those firms, a couple of those firms that I just mentioned who said we love the phrase experience as a service. We’re actually disappointed. We didn’t think of it first. Can we borrow it? Consistent with our messaging, Tru’s messaging in the marketplace is we said, yeah, because experience as a services and the true thing, it’s an industry thing. Our goal, as Tommy knows, is I want that as a block on the Kitces map. I want the firms out there that are looking at behavioral finance and innovation and Fintech and human talent and are delivering that as an ecosystem. I want them all there. Yes, Mr. X, Y, Z firm, if you’re interested in using that and you’re interested in that label, and you’ll play by those rules of delivering something unique and compelling and bigger and beyond, absolutely borrow it. We’re pretty excited that it’s catching industry

Craig: What do you mean? What exactly does someone call you about? They asked you to borrow what?

Amit: If they could use the phrase experience as a service in their marketing.

Craig: Oh, experience as a service. Got it. I missed that part.

Amit: Yes. That’s what we’ve been out there toting, which is a combination of behavioral finance, Fintech, Human talent with the layer of innovation driving that. And so they’ve said, we would love to use that, if that’s okay with you. I said, it’s not my term, it’s the industry term.

Craig: Well, I’ll bring it to Michael, we review the map. We just had our map meeting yesterday morning for next month.

Amit: That’s great.

Craig: For this month. But experience of the service, we are always adding new feed, new categories as more vendors come out with different takes on the industry or different looks, different innovative, packages of features and functionality. We’re always open to making the map more useful by categorizing different products in ways that make more sense.

Amit: Yes. We’re excited and thank you for the consideration. We’re excited about it too because we’re also looking at innovation probably a little bit differently. And AI out there, we’ve seen some unique partnerships where we’re hoping to have something in that innovation lab type marketplace here soon, which is a personal passion of mine as well as a business passion. There’s this conversation out there, people are saying, well, AI won’t replace advisors. It’s advisors who don’t use AI that will be replaced.

I actually called nonsense on that too. The reason simply being is there’s not enough advisors. There’s not enough advisors, so let’s be honest with ourselves, folks, it doesn’t matter how you do it. If you want to be an advisor in a certain amount of time, it doesn’t matter how you hang your shingle, you’ll get a shot at it because of this lack of people coming into this space.

Amit: But I do have faith and hope that there will be more people than we think. It’ll just be a matter of time. Because people do go where the opportunity set lies. And that’s one of the great things about the heartbeat of this country. I don’t buy into that notion. I think AI will obviously help our industry but you will not be rendered obsolete. I go back to the legions of research, Mark Hurley undiscovered managers. You’re either going to be rolled up or rolled over. That was the late 90s or early 2000s where I’m still waiting for that day. I think many of us are right?

Oh, wait, no, I forgot. What was that other one? Oh yes. The robo advisors that was going to lay waste to financial advisors. I think we pretty much said that. That’s pretty much dead. As we continue to roll forward, I think what we have to recognize is what is the only universal truth? Is that we are a tech forwarded world. A tech forward country, tech forward industry, which will always augment what we do, but will never be the shiny center of what we do. It will enhance, implement, support, supplement, but it will never be the one thing that everybody gravitates to. It’s not the sun, but it does have create a halo effect.

I don’t mean that in a negative way because I think we have to constantly continue to innovate, but let’s be honest with ourselves. Even for those who don’t, there’s still a place. All I have to do to validate that is say one word, wirehouse. The wirehouse is still there and kicking. That’s another one. Oh yes, they’re going to be gone by 2030. I’ll bet a wooden nickel, they’ll still be here in 2030.

Craig: They’ll still be here, and the polar ice caps will still be here.

Amit: Look, I mean, they’re reinventing themselves to go after some of these millennials with salary bonus structures and saying, just show up and be enhanced relationship managers. Almost like the Fisher model. We’ll put the leads in your seat. You just take care of these clients. I think there’s going to be a lot of this younger generation that finds that very appealing, which will ultimately lead to them going independence when they realize the errors of their ways. And that will continue the ongoing funnel and what we do.

Craig: Sure.

Amit: There we go.

Tru Independence Competitors

Craig: One thing you mentioned earlier was that you are leveraged advisor for the TruView platform. But that $8 billion in assets still sits on disparate tech like Orion. Is that because all the acquisitions, those different RIAs were sitting on different tech and you haven’t converted them over yet?

Amit: Yes, it’s a way to categorize us as our biggest competitor is Dynasty. So we are not acquiring advisors. We’re not taking equity stakes. We’re helping launch them. We’re helping them relieve them or alleviate the pain of being independent and providing a business partner to help with the things that give them the most pain, compliance, finance and accounting, IT and technology or their Fintech. Then obviously operation support and service as well. Those are the things that we provide that are unique.

The biggest difference being that we’re the name chief Compliance Officer, while others will provide compliance support will be your compliance officer. Those services become very unique, so we haven’t taken equity stakes or M&A and so as they come on, those are legacy businesses. Now, the reason we are here with TruView is because those legacy advisors have told us that they want to make the move. We’ve lined up roughly about half of that number to transition over time, but we’re not looking to do it like a wholesale change. We love our partnerships with those folks, and if advisors want to continue to do it, they can do so. But every new team that’s come on to Tru in the last year has gone on to Trivia.

Craig: You’re fine with the firms that are affiliated with you keep their own tech if they want?

Amit: Sure. Now to be clear, we’re not a supermarket. We support the fintech in a meaningful way where we find that advisors can get leverage scale, and we have partnership but we’re not a supermarket.

Craig: Right. Well, you don’t offer those other technologies, but they can stay on them if they want to. You don’t support them.

Amit: We do support Orion and Black Diamond and [incomprehensible] as examples. We do support Wealthbox and Redtail as examples. We do support a nice array of services, again, Nitrogen and others, but what we’re not is we’re not a supermarket, and we’re also not forcing advisors to move to TruView. One thing that advisors don’t want is to be told what to do. The choice is available and we say, look, if you take a look at TruView, if you don’t want to make the move, it’s no problem here.

Craig: That’s interesting. Who are your custodian partners?

Amit: Pretty excited about our custodial partners. We have Schwab, we have Fidelity, Pershing, and our soon to be newest partner is one that is out there in the space we haven’t made anything official and Tommy will absolutely —

Tommy: Leave it another maybe two weeks before we start letting that one out. But I’ll be sure to keep you in the loop when we can, Craig.

Craig: Sure. Just go. Always interested. So, Schwab, Fidelity, Pershing. What’s the breakdown of the 11 billion across those custodians, would you say? Estimate.

Amit: Yes, sure. 70,20,10. Schwab being the largest, and that’s changing. That dial is shifting. It’s probably more, is it like 75, 25, 5, or sorry, 70, 25, 5, where’s my math wrong? Seven 70, 25, 5 Yes. 70, 25, 5.

Craig: That would be 100?

Amit: Yes. That would be 100. So Fidelity growth.

Craig: Fidelity.

Amit: Yes, from there. And then also, in the next couple of weeks, we’ll also see that shift continue to even to some of the Schwab numbers as well.

Craig: So Schwab is also converting to Fidelity?

Amit: We’re seeing more opportunity with Fidelity than we’re seeing with Schwab, and more with, than we’re seeing with Fidelity or Pershing, especially as Pershing has decided they’re going to be competitors to providers and advisor service like us.

Craig: Yes. With their Wove platform.

Amit: Yes, and advisors who don’t use it have to pay a tariff to continue. I think we might be seeing a shift in business model, which or not aligned. We’re clearly seeing a shift in business model, which will clearly be answered with a shift in advisor assets.

Craig: Which doesn’t make a difference to you. Which custodian they cleared through or custody through?

Amit: Correct. We do not care.

Craig: But you see more opportunity with Fidelity because of their flexibility, because of the technology, because of their service. What you see the biggest.

Amit: All the above. And I think whatever business you are as you make acquisitions of significant size, there’s always a ripple effect. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking technology or a service or custody. Anytime you’re trying to create adoption and scales and efficiencies, you see impact to the business. I think advisors are seeing that impact, or more importantly, feeling that impact and are looking at other providers.

Craig: The TD acquisition is distracting them? They’re too busy? The service is going down and they’re not paying as much attention to new business because they can’t bring it on.

Amit: Yes. What I would say, Craig, is I think advisors are making those decisions for themselves.

Craig: Indeed, they are. Advisors are quick to make those decisions if they can. It’s not something you want to change. Nobody wants to change custodians.

Amit: No, they don’t. But, we’re always good as our last day.

Craig: Do you see a difference in onboarding between the three custodians? If it’s one of them has better onboarding technology, that’s a big issue. That’s the first, when you bring new clients on the onboarding is the first technology that the clients see of yours. And onboarding doesn’t work well or it’s clunky or it’s a bad experience or requires manual steps or lots of tasks switching. It could put a bad taste in the mouth of clients or advisors.

Amit: I’ve been asked that question before and I think I’ve been lucky because when I was at Hightower, Fidelity was the largest custodian there by far. When I was at Sanctuary, it was Schwab. And what I found is it didn’t matter who the incumbent was, there was experiences that were positive and negative with both. It was in a lot of ways was unique to two things. Number one, the type of business the advisor had. If there was a heavy loan book attached, ultra-high net worth, lots of accounts or lots of households, lots of accounts, those things all weighed into the circumstance.

What I think is interesting is everybody’s got their own, the custodian side now has their all new technology. And so it’s different and there’s nothing universal about it. I just don’t understand what you give up by having some universal technology for onboarding. It’s because it just creates a better experience. You have the custody, you have the assets. Who cares how you get them on board, just get them on board. And so that’s a head scratcher for me, and it doesn’t matter which custodial partner we go to, it seems that they all want to do it their way.

Craig: Yes.

Amit: So different structure.

Craig: I found that too when I was at the Pershing conference. They had announced their wealth platform and which by the way, we helped them a little bit with, full disclosure.

Amit: Congratulations.

Craig: They hired us to do strategy for them so that we came in into the strategy review of where they were going with the platform and validated what their mission was validated their direction, gave them advice. So we have nothing to do with actually selling it or anything like that, but they called it Schwab. it was interesting to see them launch it and they announced multi custodial. I had a question, well, will you actually plug in to Schwab and TDS APIs and do a full seamless integration or will it be like everyone else where we’re constantly task switching? As you mentioned, they all want to do it their own way. You can start in one application, but then they force you to task switch into their website to finish the account opening or their DocuSign.

Amit: Yes. Exactly. Their unique version of DocuSign Do we need that? That’s not where you’re going to get stickiness. Stickiness isn’t on the onboarding process. In fact, if anything that creates the proverbial rubber wall where you want to bounce off of it. That’s where you want the ease of use. That’s where you want to be client centric, and that’s why I don’t understand this.

Craig: That you’re seeing the same thing when they’re opening accounts to Advyzon, you can get always to a certain point.

Amit: Yes. Correct. I know that in partnership with Advyzon, we are trying to figure out a way to crack that code with any custodian. But it’s an arduous task and one that has happened or taken that it outdate even our request.

Craig: I mean, I have heard that Schwab says that they don’t even have the APIs, they even build them yet. Because I talked to about this as well, and Fidelity says that they will allow people to use their own DocuSign, but you have to put in a request to do that.

Amit: We have heard that. We haven’t tried that yet. But Stay tuned, we’ll let you know.

Craig: I’m sure working on an article about that That there’s so many different ways to open accounts and there’s so many different machinations and every custodian set their own way of doing it. And, so I think it’s fascinating that that’s still an issue in this day and age. Enlightened day and age.

Amit: Orange I thought had a shot at it, but clearly that got swallowed up by SEI and I nothing ever came of that again.

Craig: How long have you been working with Advyzon?

Amit: Our relationship with them is at this point over probably a year and a half old in regards to conversation. Formalization is different, but I added our first advisor earlier this year, and we’ll continue to add advisors going forward this year and beyond.

Craig: Great. You got to start somewhere.

Amit: Yes. But, we are proud of the badging and the unique version of what we’ve done. It’s compelling and different from what others are getting and it shows up. We’ve had people comment as much, again, like the integration into Tru, the embedded technology of our own, help desk and all those. We get all the tickets, like the revolving carousel of information, the updates and everything. It’s all through there. That has made it very unique and different than what’s standard.

Craig: That is also another issue, ticketing and how advisors put in service requests. You built that yourself at your own technology? Or is it built on something else like Salesforce? ,

Amit: No, it’s not built on Salesforce. It is not. It is our own version of our technology. We use that desk.

Craig: Oh, okay.

Amit: But, it’s everything from — they can drop down and get access to us to our entire organization. It’s all embedded. It’s not a separate system or anything like that. The goal was to have it to live within the ecosystem, the TruView ecosystem, and that they never had to leave. Their business metrics for their interaction with Tru for their service, for their desktop service, whatever it might be, they stay within the TruView ecosystem for all.

Craig: Business metrics. Another big area that a lot of firms don’t have. How’d you put that together and I know the driver, but how did you manage to build that? Because it brings data from a lot of different places, especially if all of your platforms, all of your RIA partners run on different platforms, how do you bring that data in to show those business metrics?

Amit: To be transparent, you have the business metrics live within advisors who use TruView. We are working on something else for our non TruView advisors, but that’s a lot more further down the road at this point.

Craig: Got it.

Amit: But TruView allows us to capture those metrics. We’re doing this in partnership, and we’ll continue to advance it because I think what we want to do is take it from business metrics, which is basically data and even big data is just that it’s big. How do you make it more actionable or set another way? What’s the punchline? Give us the punchline of that data in regards to using it in my business, and we’re finding a lot of it, while the insights are there or the information is there, it’s not truly insightful enough. And that’s where we’re focused and we’re working in partnership to solve for that. But the data and the metrics are there and we’re continuously working and our advisors are working with us.

Craig: I figured that was only inside the Tru review platform that made no sense. It’s this problem that no one’s solved yet.

Amit: Yes.

Craig: It’s definitely out there for someone to solve.

Amit: Yes. A hundred percent. Hopefully somebody will.

Craig: We’ll go back to some of the other applications besides for using the whole platform, using the CRM using their tamp for your investment solution, but you have Nitrogen. What are the other applications differential planning, what are you guys using for that?

Amit: Again, it’s choice for the advisor, MoneyGuidePro. We also look at iCapital and then our partnership with Lumiant also it exists through TruView.

Craig: So those integrate into TruView?

Amit: They do.

Craig: Give me an example. You built that out using the MoneyGuidePro, iCapital’s, APIs and that they stay in MoneyGuidePro or is it a front end on top of it and what data’s going back and forth?

Amit: Yes. Data is being able to be pulled back and forth, and what we’re trying to do is continuously expand it. Nitrogen is a better example in some ways if you take the score. The score shows up not only in the client portal, it shows up on every page of TruView. If you’re an MGP user, every page of TruView, wherever you’re going to dashboard, you see that score and you see some of the data and the metrics and it pulls back and forth both ways. MGP does the same thing. It’s data that pulls back and forth both ways, and you see it embedded within the client information and the client record as well as in the client portal.

Craig: Excellent. That is certainly at the top of the game. I think in terms of firms that are out there. Very few have that embedded capabilities built and working.

Amit: Yes, and that’s honestly why Craig, we’re having a record year. A lot of people talk about it but then it’s show and there’s a lot of people talking about moving to it, but I feel like everybody’s saying, oh, you can’t have your cake and eat it too in APIs and integration respectfully. I’ve I haven’t seen it much pass to your point, single sign on type stuff.

Craig: Interesting because we started another company.

Amit: Talk to me.

Craig: Solve this problem because not all other firms in the industry are as enlightened as you guys and being consultants for so long, one of the biggest issues we saw was integrations over and over again, working with both sides, working with our vendor clients. Our RIA clients and broker deal clients, everyone’s complaining about integrations. They don’t work, right. It’s opaque to know who’s got what. Even if they say they have a logo on their site, we integrate with nitrogen. You don’t know what it means.

Amit: No.

Craig: Is it just sign on? Is it one direction, bidirectional? Is it embedded widget, what is it? No one knows. Last year we launched what we call the WealthTech Integration Score?

Amit: I’m familiar.

Craig: Now we score. Every vendor on the Kitces-Ezra Group map has a score of 0 to 10. So you know how well they integrate. And once we did that, we realized we had to query every single vendor, over 150 of them have no integrations at all, zero. Not that they didn’t even want to, they just don’t have time. They’re too busy, they’re too busy startups, they’re in the middle of the things trying to grow their business. I thought, well, we could build something. What if we just pre-built some integrations. And that way you buy that. Of course, you still need to sign up with or Nitrogen or risk or whatever tool looming and whatever tool you’ve got, you have to have a relationship with them. But you don’t have to rebuild the integration. We’ll just build it, and you can work for that. You we’re just selling software. We built this software, but it’s proof of concept at the moment. But just to show that it’s cloud based, it’s not SaaS, it’s cloud software that you run in your cloud. We don’t touch it. We don’t touch your data, your clients, your contracts, nothing. You load our software, your cloud environment, and you say, now I want Nitrogen. And it just connects you put the right credentials in, it connects to nitrogen. You say, give me risk score. You get the risk score. But if you say, well now I want to switch to Morningstar’s risk tool. You say, well, Morningstar’s risk tool. You don’t have to know how Morningstar does it, how their APIs work. You just have to write to our, well, we’re building a knowledge graph is how the underlying tech underneath with the Postgres is part of our system. And this way takes a lot of that effort out of building and maintaining. Because once you build it, now you can maintain forever.

Amit: Evolve it and grow on it and iterate. Yes, sure.

Craig: We’re seeing a lot of interest in that.

Amit: That’s interesting. It’s almost like the virtual desktop back in the day.

Craig: Back in the day.

Amit: Yes. And now you’re pulling it down. That would be interesting conversation for another day.

Craig: Yes, we can definitely walk you through that. We just started, we incorporated, my partner is Mike Zebrowski.

Amit: Yeah, sure.

Craig: Of eMoney.

Amit: eMoney. I saw him in the picture with you.

Craig: Yes. And so Mike and I started this company and right now we’re have a proof of concept to show that yes, we can move data through our knowledge graph. We’ve got Black Diamond Redtail, eMoney, just to show that we can move data. It works. There’s a number of firms, lot of interest from firms like yours that have a lot of different partners that they’re bringing on. Our aggregators or RIA consolidators because they’ve got this problem that everyone’s got different tech and how do they bring it all together, similar to what you’re mentioning. And that whole business dashboard has been mentioned by a couple of the firms that we were talking to. We actually mocked up some slides to show how that would work, and they like it. But then now we can plug into QuickBooks because most RIAs use QuickBooks. Or whatever your asset platform is, Orion, Black Diamond, time doesn’t matter, and your CRM, those are the three main areas where you need that data for your business dashboard.

Amit: Mike’s actually I think, is he celebrating Philadelphia area or so?

Craig: Right around the corner.

Amit: Yes. He is and Docupace, right. Do I have that right?

Craig: He’s not a CEO of Docupace. He wears multiple hats.

Amit: Got you. These little passion projects, I love hearing about them because I think that’s where the liquid gold is.

Craig: The hard part is getting off the ground, getting the first clients. We’re looking for some funding and it’s not a great environment for funding. He built a company called AI Labs, which is Envestnet that was building the dashboards. They were building dashboards and portals. That was their main sale, but they had to build all the integrations behind it to get the dashboard to work. So now we’re taking all the same people that built all that and just doing the integration part. We’re not doing the portal.

Amit: Got you.

Craig: We’ve already got people lined, all the programmers lined up who want to jump in, , and do it again. , but now we’re just looking for, to, to get the funding to get that going. So if you know anybody sitting [inaudible] of money, let me know.

Amit: I might know somebody in that VC space who might be interested.

Craig: No VCs.

Amit: No VCs?

Craig: No VCs. We’re looking for real people, people we know the in industry, strategic partners. All the people we know in the industry we’re talking to in our industry or people or firms that are looking that want the technology and want to be the first customers and also invest, those are the firms we’re talking to.

Amit: Yes. That pool investing, is coming to our industry in roves, and I actually like it. I think there’s a lot because there’s some built in client base to it too, when you get that right.

Craig: That’s our goal. That’s what we’re working on. Happy to set up a separate call and give you a demo. Love what we got. Talk to our tech, bring your tech guy in, talk to our head, our lead developer, he can walk you through the code-based. How our knowledge graph is set up, how they built it for our labs and how they’re rebuilding it better for what we’re doing and all the mistakes they made and how they’re fixing it. Rather they’re rebuilding the architecture in a more scalable and flexible manner.

Amit: That would be nothing short of fantastic. I’d love to do that.

Craig: Excellent. We’ll get that set up. And what did I forget to ask you? Is there anything else I can do to help you guys?

Amit: No, I mean, look, I think first off, thank you for the time. Time’s our most precious commodity. It’s not lost on me that we’ve gone 50 plus minutes, so I appreciate you taking the time to do that.

Craig: This is all we do.

Amit: Yes.

Craig: I’m all day talking to people. I love to hear about their tech, what’s working, what’s not working experiences, so this is all we do.

Amit: Yes, and just to hear us out on experience as a service and consider that on the app and all that kind of stuff. That’s fantastic. I wasn’t even thinking about that. But we love the opportunity and just to continue the connection, the continued connection to hear what you’re up to and that pathway is phenomenal for us. So I do appreciate the, the connection and the conversation.

Craig: Sure.

Amit: And there might be some other stuff for us to talk about and consider as we keep this conversation going.

Craig: Absolutely. Great. Well, Tommy, thanks for coordinating.

Tommy: Thank you guys. And I’m so glad we were able to make this happen.

Amit: Craig, thanks so much.

Craig: Welcome.



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