Ep. 217: Bridging the Gap: Transforming Wealth Infrastructure with BridgeFT

Come on in and sit back and relax. You’re listening to Episode 217 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.

I’m excited to talk about our two guests for this episode, both from BridgeFT, Joe Stenson, their CEO, Joe’s been CEO for two years. I’ve known Joe a long time, I met him back way back when when he was at Scivantage. He was Head of Product for many years and moved into Head of Sales and Marketing at the time they were acquired by Refinitiv in 2020. My second guest on the program is Jim Hays who was a strategic advisor for BridgeFT. He was a former Wells Fargo advisor, head of Wells Fargo Advisors and Head of Wells Fargo’s Wealth and Investment Management Client Relationship Group, and before that, Jim was head of the Private Banking and Investment Group at Merrill Lynch.

But before we get started, let’s talk about tech stacks. At Ezra Group, we’ve seen tech stacks of hundreds of RIAs and let me tell you, most of them are loaded down with tech debt. So you shouldn’t feel too bad about yours. But let’s face it tech debt is like a giant anchor, holding back your business growth. If you want to free your firm for exponential growth, you should run, not walk to our website EzraGroup.com and fill out the Contact Us form. Our experienced team can evaluate your current tech ecosystem, deliver targeted recommendations, optimize your existing systems and operations or run an RFP and help you implement new software to take your firm to the next level. You can take advantage of our free consultation offer by going to EzraGroup.com.

Topics Mentioned

  • The Power of API-First, Headless Platforms

  • Changing Dynamics and Empowering Wealth Management Firms

  • Accelerating Fintech Innovation with BridgeFT

Episode Transcript

Craig: I’m excited to introduce my next two guests on the program—Joe Stensland, CEO of BridgeFT, and Jim Hays, a BridgeFT strategic advisor. Guys, welcome!

Joe: Thank you, Craig. Thanks for having us.

Craig: So let’s do a voice analysis here. Joe, say hi.

Joe: Hello.

Craig: That’s Joe. And, Jim, you say hi.

Jim: Hi.

Craig: Okay, so now we’ve got our two voices here. We usually do one, but I’m trying to expand the podcast a bit and do a little bit more people on the podcast, so we’re going to have two. This is great. Joe, where are you calling from?

Joe: I’m calling from Annapolis, Maryland.

Craig: That’s an awesome place. At least you’re here on the East Coast with me, so you understand the weather.

Joe: Yes, the winter is coming quickly.

Craig: Yes. Where are you, Jim?

Jim: Craig, I’m calling in from Jackson, Wyoming, and winter is already here.

Craig: Yes. I’ve never been to Wyoming. I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone on the podcast from Wyoming, so you are the first. You win the prize.

Jim: Great.

Craig: All right, so jumping in, Joe, give us and the audience a 30-second elevator pitch for BridgeFT.

The Power of API-First, Headless Platforms

Joe: Sure thing. BridgeFT is a wealth infrastructure platform that helps any firm that’s building a wealth management application—whether that’s a wealth management firm, whether it’s a wealthtech provider, or whether it’s a consultant—build their applications better, faster, and cheaper. We provide infrastructure capability around data—so enterprise data management for the core custodial data—which is the lifeblood of most wealth management applications. We provide essentially an outsourced data lake with all of that information that allows you to fetch that and drive it over the API for integration into your applications, the services, and the things that you’re building.

Joe: We also have a suite of services that sit on top of that—analytics, like performance and other types of analytics, advisor dashboard elements, billing engine, and reporting engine—that can all be utilized through the API, we’re a headless platform, to integrate into any other application. Firms that utilize us could be wealth management firms themselves that are building their own advisor desktops or client portals. It could be turnkey asset management platforms that are building their own capabilities and platforms or direct indexing platforms; they need the core data and the services and then want to augment that with other advisor productivity tools, like reporting and billing. Then it could be a wealthtech firm or a fintech firm themselves.

Joe: We have quite a few clients that utilize us, including firms like Zoe Financial, Income Lab, and Dynasty Financial Partners, that all use our platform for a way to get the data into theirs and utilize our application-ready services so that they can focus on the things that make their application and their business better and not the core infrastructure, which is pretty much similar across the board and doesn’t offer an opportunity for them to differentiate. So they can leave the heavy lifting to us, cut half the development bill out of their timeline and their cost, and focus on what is meant to make them unique rather than integrating yet another data feed.

Craig: I’ve said this before—I told it to you—I love the idea. I love what you guys are doing. Coming from Ezra Group and our incredible focus on integrations and data, hearing what you guys are doing warms my heart, I have to say. But how did you get here? If you can just do maybe three or four minutes on that, because BridgeFT was not a wealth infrastructure provider before you got there.

Joe: That’s right. Yes, I’ll weave those two things together. I started off my fintech life at Thomson Financial. I’m not going to say how many years ago. We built the Wealth Management group there. I actually touched paths with you, Craig, in several different companies.

Craig: Yes. We’ve bobbed and weaved through our careers.

Joe: Yes, that’s right. Actually—well, I didn’t know Jim back then—one of the things we did: We launched Wachovia’s Smart Station platform. We launched Merrill Lynch Desktop. The Thomson ONE Wealth Management platform became the largest advisor-used platform in the country and is still fairly substantial today. I then went on to a startup. I sold that startup to a company called Scivantage. Scivantage was internet brokerage 1.0. So any firm that wanted to have an online internet brokerage, we launched TradeKing, we would help enable that. A lot of that was the same infrastructure that I talked about today, but we were also delivering the front-end screens and the capabilities as a turnkey. Throughout that process, it was always a lot of effort and customization and professional services we’d have to do on the front end, which indicated that the firms—and even more so today—want to have control of that because that’s their unique aspect. They want to control the experience that their advisor and their clients have. But the back end was actually the biggest part of the work for us. At the end of Scivantage, we ended up selling Scivantage. We sold it to Refinitiv. Then Scivantage was actually spun out into the BetaNXT group as a follow-up.

Joe: While I was at Refinitiv thinking about what to do next, I had this concept of Wealthtech API. I actually started building a business plan around it and searched for a couple of places, maybe to land it as a new opportunity. And an opportunity came across from a headhunter on the BridgeFT CEO search. BridgeFT had started life, as you indicated, Craig, as a software, as a service for financial advisors. They sold directly to the advisor. They sold a brand new tech stack, all API first, a very lightweight front-end running on AWS, and used a third-party aggregation service, which became problematic over time. And so, out of necessity, they built their own multi-custodial aggregation platform, integrated to all of the custody providers, and then migrated their 200 and some RIAs over to this platform. And around that time, the board was looking at the business, and they were raising around and said, “Well, perhaps we have a big opportunity in enterprise data management type service in wealth management” because if this had this big impact on us—and the impact was very large from a margin standpoint, from a customer satisfaction standpoint… Getting that data part right changed the whole business, which just shows how important the data foundation is. 

Joe: If that had that big an impact on us, there are hundreds and thousands of firms that are out there that could leverage the same capability and value. So they decided to look for some folks to lead that charge, and that’s where it came along to me, and it was a good match for this concept that I was already trying to pursue. So I took the job in January ’22, brought in a bunch of my trusted team here, and we had a two-year plan to sort of convert the focus to an enterprise platform. We did it largely in 2022. And in 2023, we’ve continued to execute that with a lot of interesting brand names and wins along the way. 

Joe: And we’re just setting up our ’24 plan to continue into that. The challenge for us is that it’s a huge market and a huge focus in the expanse of what we need to do, but the core fundamental foundation is there. The value that we’re creating for these clients is very clear. And the next steps on that are exciting. If you think about it, Craig—the host of data that we have and all the value that could be in AI, machine learning, and analytics—that next layer of the cake is the focus for us in the future and the value. The data as a start is one. Enriching that data, helping it answer questions, and providing guidance on what firms are looking for is the next step. And that’s part of what will continue into the future.

Craig: That’s an excellent description. Yes, you pretty well summed it up nicely. I want it pitched over to Jim for a second. So, Jim, with your background and experience in the industry, when you saw this being done and saw this platform, what was it about it that encouraged you to join and become a strategic advisor for this company?

Jim: Yes, that’s a great question, Craig. I’ve been on Wall Street for about 35 years and I’ve had a foothold in Silicon Valley for about 25 of those years, and I’ve always been interested in how technology can enable the client and the advisor relationship. When I met Joe and the BridgeFT team, I was wowed by their tech and their capabilities because I felt that it addressed some of the problems that you see in the industry with large firms as well as on the innovation curve.

Jim: And just broadly, large firms tend to have their innovation budgets crowded out a little bit by other priorities such as regulatory and compliance. Items can be one area. Another challenge can be legacy systems that tend to be a patchwork that are built over the years. Another challenge that’s out there is: How do you create a true end-to-end client experience that’s integrated across multiple applications and managed through that? And what I found in BridgeFT was a firm that thought about those problems as opportunities from the ground up—how to synthesize data, how to create an API and services layer, how to build speed of execution into the equation—and do what they do and allow larger firms and other firms to do what they do best, which is manage the client to the advisor relationship.

Jim: So in BridgeFT, what I found is a firm that had thought about data and multi-custodial data, which I think is a big trend that’s probably in the second inning of what it could be. Number one and number two: That enabled REAs, broker-dealers and wealth firms to focus on the front-end innovation piece and what they do. And so I think the marriage of those two things does exactly what Joe said—better, faster, and cheaper—and I would say, more accurate in terms of data and the cleanliness of the data that firms use. So it’s been a great relationship. And I’m proud of what that team does and the momentum that they have.

Craig: I’m going to stick with you, Jim. So going back to your days, not very long ago, as CEO of Wells Fargo Advisors, what would you have done differently if you had this technology when you were there?

Jim: Yes, so it’s a good question. Without commenting specifically on Wells Fargo, I would say for any large organization that has a technology budget and a complex business model, you sort of make the trade-off in your technology spend between keeping the lights on and maintenance type of technology versus “What are we going to innovate on?” And I think one of the things that big firms can generally do differently with technology like this is move away from a mindset of building everything internally and instead build the value-added client pieces or the differentiated pieces internally and outsource the pieces that are the infrastructure and the pieces that allow you to move more quickly. So one thing I would encourage all large firms in this industry to do is consider what they need to build versus what they should buy and look externally.

Jim: A good example of that is when you think of financial planning tools, performance management tools, or performance reporting, many firms had their own proprietary tools that were built up over the years. And what they’ve realized is that there are good providers out there that spend all their time and all their innovation dollars on those tools, and they develop them. And the trick, then, for the firm is to figure out, “Well, how do we integrate that so it’s single sign-on, it’s a unified experience,” and whatnot? And “How can we get the data imported into that in a way that makes the output accurate?” So it’s a great marriage between the speed of execution and innovation, getting things done quickly, doing what big firms do well, and relying on external partners for some of the infrastructure and ultimately some of the integration.

Craig: Jim, you took the words right out of my mouth. I give this talk all the time because I get asked: “Which is better, build versus buy?” And there’s no answer; there’s no “yes, build” or “no, don’t build.” It’s, as you said, build where you can add value, build where you can differentiate, and buy everything else. There’s no reason to buy infrastructure; there’s no reason to necessarily buy a financial planning tool, as you mentioned, that does the basic financial planning options. If you want to build something specifically, we’ve seen this… I partner with Michael Kitces on the AdvisorTech Map, which you can find on kitces.com, and we’re seeing the explosions in specialized planning, very niche, narrow areas where people are building—areas that are not the normal financial planning or normal Monte Carlo retirement expenses. Things like Medicaid, college planning, taxes, and such. So you’re hitting the nail on the head there.

Jim: Yes, I think it gives firms the opportunity to pick and choose an amalgamation of… In the Kitces chart, for example, there’s a lot of choice out there. And then there’s a lot of opportunity for an RIA or a broker-dealer to add their secret sauce to that and get a win on both fronts.

Joe: If I might jump in, Craig, one of the unique things, though, is that with all of that unique innovation out there and this concept of buy versus build, I think it’s a false choice. I think the answer is that you need to build. But when you build an application, you don’t build Oracle; you rent it. So the technology tools that can be integrated and allow you to make a seamless application require that you have API-first headless capabilities so that you can stitch together inside your own concept of the customer journey through financial planning but then leverage that unique technology around the specialized planning, as you mentioned, or whatever other service. And that’s where I think large firms, particularly like the ones that Jim’s been at, have to have that client experience and advisor experience unique to them in order for them to differentiate. 

Joe: It’s hard to imagine the top two competing wealth management firms sending out the same exact financial planning report to all their customers and somehow say that they’re differentiated in the financial planning they provide. So they have to put their stamp on it. But that doesn’t mean they have to build the whole thing. They can start with the core services that are there. Whoever wants to build a Monte Carlo calculation? Who wants to build a performance calculation? Who wants to worry about an integrated data model? Those things can be leveraged from a service like ours and others. It’s the stamp that they put on—this is the way that their firm is going to manage the journey with their customer—that needs to be unique to them.

Craig: I want to shift gears for just a second. Back to Joe. One of the things I like about the way you’ve designed your product, as you said, it’s API-only, it’s a headless platform. That’s the way to go, in my opinion. But what are the downsides? Have you seen any downsides? Was there any difficulty in switching? Because BridgeFT was the opposite up until then: Where we’ve got a front end, use our front end. You go: We don’t have a front end. So it’s a big shift in mindset and sales. How do you shift the business from “We’re selling this experience” to “We’re just selling infrastructure”?

Joe: There are a couple of questions in there. The challenge is the readiness of firms to own that experience so that they’re looking to take just the APIs. And they’re out there; it’s just that it used to probably be at the larger firms. And that bar is lowering. I like to say that our service helps lower that bar. You could have your own experience now because if I can help cut 50% of the costs out, then you don’t need the budget. But that lowering level is something that has to change over time, and I suspect that we’ll continue to look and leverage third-party development organizations that might be able to help use our platform to piece together for smaller firms that maybe don’t have a bench of developers that are sitting there. But I believe very strongly that that bar is going to continue to lower because it’s just part of what differentiates those firms.

Joe: As far as changing the mindset, that’s difficult, and quite frankly, it’s not done because it’s thinking about it in a totally different way. And that’s a growing pain that we’ve had in this migration that we’ve made. You see people saying: “Well, wait a minute; we shouldn’t be thinking about it that way. We should be thinking about what the developer at the firm needs to do in order to enable that thing, rather than our own application.” When you make your application headless, you think about it totally differently, and you have to help your clients think about how they might integrate it rather than focusing on UX and UI, which is a whole different discipline. So that is a big change, and it’s a big change for firms to think about. But there’s a strong pole demand in the marketplace for it because firms are looking to and are actively building their own services. We found a real hot spot in the fintech market.

Joe: Looking at the Kitces map, there are 500 firms—around there or something—and probably a full 75% of them could use or need our data. So for those firms, it’s pretty lights out. If you’ve got a million dollars to go build your product that you want to try to take to market, do you want to spend $500,000 of that on integrating custodial data and core services? Or would you rather focus that on whatever it is that you’re building, making that more and more unique? And that’s just the common theme. I’d say it’s bigger than a change in our company; it’s just a change that’s happening in the market. And there are very good corollaries to that. I mean, this is what e-commerce is about. That’s what happened with e-commerce. E-commerce is full of infrastructure. I like to say that we’re going to do for wealth management what Stripe and Shopify did for e-commerce. And it’s very much the same thing.

Craig: So would you change the name of the firm to Bridgify?

Joe: That would have been a good one!

Craig: That’s a free one. That’s free marketing for you. You can take that and run with it. 

Joe: I’m going to use that one.

Changing Dynamics and Empowering Wealth Management Firms

Craig: I remove all of my ownership of that. Back to Jim. Jim, if a firm were to use the BridgeFT platform, which is a single source of truth for multi-custodial data aggregation, how does that shift the mindset and the control away from vendors towards wealth management firms? If you’re a wealth management firm, as you know from Wells Fargo Advisors, sometimes the vendors kind of own you because they own your data. It’s in their infrastructure. You’ve got to ask them for it. It’s in their proprietary format. They’ve taken it and then you don’t own it as much. But if you have BridgeFT, if I could make a bold statement, you would own more of your data. Then you would have that control. Do you see that? And how would that change the way wealth management firms think about their businesses?

Jim: Craig, that’s a great question. I would say broadly that the dynamics in the industry have been changing for about 15 to 20 years, where most of the power in the relationships at small firms and large firms is between the client and the advisor relationship, where it used to be that the product approach was paramount. But products have proliferated so much that the real value that’s exchanged and that results in revenues for firms is between the advice that’s given and the advice that’s paid for—sort of this mutual value exchange. So I think the first thing that BridgeFT does is free up the budget at firms to basically focus on: How do they enable that client and advisor relationship?

Jim: The second trend that I see happening is that advisors are more and more recognizing that they need to charge explicitly for advice and demonstrate: What’s the value that they provide for the fee that’s charged? So one way that’s sort of playing out is this notion of sort of multi-custodial or fee-for-advice services, where in the past an advisor might only charge a fee based on assets that they manage. Whereas what’s begun to happen and is happening is that advisors are now charging a fee on a total relationship. And they’ve always provided advice, but sometimes it’s been subsidized by asset management or other things.

Jim: So the analogy I think probably holds pretty true is that when you look at performance reporting and aggregated performance reporting, that basically gives you a view across Wall Street for how a client’s doing. If you were to take that and say, “Let’s actually take our business practices and do those across the client relationship across the street and charge for advice, regardless of where the assets are held,” I think it actually enables the advisor to deliver what they want to deliver. They want to be the lead advisor on the relationship and they want to be compensated appropriately for giving advice across all the assets, regardless of where they’re held. And the multi-custodial data and having that in a seamless way enables them to do that.

Craig: Indeed. So the same question to Joe. From your point of view, how do you see this changing? Will this give more power to wealth management firms if they have your platform as an in-between layer between the custodians and the portfolio management vendors specifically?

Joe: Yes, I like the word control. That’s absolutely what it does. And oftentimes, when we’re talking to firms, they’re considering doing it themselves, in fact, instead of another provider, because they’re seeking that control. And we give them that control back without having to do the stuff that they don’t want to do. So I think that if you think about data as a core foundational platform and then the old mantra about garbage in, garbage out being important, having access to that and having that understood is going to be critical to the success of what you’re going to want to do next. And so that amount of control is important. Layering on top of that, the services that are provided is similar. There are things that you want to build that differentiate yourselves and there are things that you don’t need to—that it’s going to be the same everywhere. And that’s where we try to draw the line. And by doing that, that allows you to take—let’s say it’s 50%, that there’s a savings there—either lower the bar and do it for less cost or dedicate a lot of those resources to the area that’s critical and unique in what you’re doing and spend more there to make that even better. So I completely agree.

Craig: I’m glad we’re on the same page with that. Another area you mentioned is that your product or platform is a wealth infrastructure that enables building apps. When a wealthtech firm, as you mentioned… The map that Michael and I work on is growing. We just met. We just had our meeting two days ago for the December map, and there are eight more vendors—eight more products—that we’re putting on the map. How long do you think it would take them to launch a new product built using the BridgeFT custodial component rather than build it themselves?

Joe: Sure. Yes, if you add it up, that’s part of what makes it so compelling for us with wealthtechs and fintechs. No matter how you cut it, it’s going to take you three to six months to integrate any custodial source. And by the way the world works, your first client is going to be on one, your second client is going to be on another, and your third client’s going to be on another one, or they have all three coming right out of the gate. So that could stack up to be a couple of years of work and if you’ve got three or four developers against it, that’s a pretty big check. With us, we’ve done all of that work and so we exposed you to the API. You get a normalized, single-format data set across all the custodians that you’re utilizing. You don’t have to run a batch operation, you don’t have to build a database infrastructure, you don’t have to go make all of that connectivity—mapping, transformation—to each one of them, and you get it fully normalized so your application only has to speak one language.

Joe: Firms have that up and running with us with three months, depending on the nature of their application and how complicated it is. We’ve had firms actually have a beta version ready before they sign the contract because we give people sandbox access as part of our sales process. So once we identify the use case and determine that we’re a good fit, we’ll encourage people to get into the sandbox and start building. And we’ve had firms have POCs done inside of 30 days. They’ve had their application integrated inside of 60-90 days. So that’s a big jump from them going down the road themselves. And the thing I like to say about it is that even if they went down the road themselves, they spent all that money and they did all of that, did they do anything different that added more value to them? No. Chances are they didn’t do it as much because that’s all that we’re focusing on. So from a fintech standpoint, it’s a lights-out scenario.

Joe: The other angle there, Craig, is that as we go along and start building this network of these fintechs, and we’re adding other data into that as well, the value for a land and expanded next step. For example, we just announced a partnership with Intrinio. So, if custodial data is one of the first needs that you have in building a wealthtech application, market data is certainly number two, if not reverse. So coming soon, Intrinio market data will be integrated into our API calls. So if you call a position call and you want to see that, I can now decorate that with an updated market value. I can give you the data around a quote that you might want to put in a quote hover in your app. I save you the time of having to do that and you’re now getting enriched extra value-added data on top of it. So I think from that standpoint, it’s no doubt faster but our intention is that in the end, the experience is also richer.

Accelerating Fintech Innovation with BridgeFT

Craig: That’s important. One thing I think also needs to be said is that the custodians—even if you have access to them, even if you have the developers and the time—are backlogged. You can’t just get access to them, get their testing environment, and get in. They may make you wait for a year. We’ve been talking to custodians and they’re all backed up. So it’s another advantage for you because even if I wanted to build it, I may not even be able to because the custodians don’t have time for me.

Joe: That’s right. And it’s only getting worse. You just mentioned there are eight more companies that are coming in next month’s report. With all of that expansion, it’s still the same firms. And by the way, those firms—the custodians—aren’t necessarily generating revenue out of that, so that’s not going to get easier. I think that there’s an opportunity for BridgeFT to act as an intermediary and provide a bit of industry utility to help make that easier for even the custodians.

Craig: Indeed. We’re almost out of time. Jim, your thoughts in terms of being a strategic advisor. Where do you see other trends moving in the broader market that are favorable to BridgeFT?

Jim: Yes, I would say there’s a host of them. I would say the trust business is getting more integrated into wealth tech stacks. Historically, trust applications were always separate because they needed principal and interest accounting, so they were thought of as this separate line of business apart from regular asset management. But the secret in the industry is that 60 to 70% of new business that’s done with trust companies is agency-only business, which is more similar to a brokerage type of platform. So I would say one trend is simplifying the tech stack on the trust side by having it look more closely to sort of a broker-dealer type of tech stack. I think that’s one trend.

Jim: I think secondly, with this trend towards independence, the independent shops have been gaining about half a point of market share per year versus the large and intermediate-sized broker-dealers. The independent shops, when people set those up, they’re looking for ways to differentiate themselves. So I think that BridgeFT gives them an opportunity to focus on what they do best, and how they differentiate their intellectual capital and thought leadership with the tech stack that supports it is another big trend that’s out there.

Jim: Then I would say the third one that I see out here is that… A lot of advisors that I talk to, I ask them a question: “Are you an investment advisor or are you a wealth advisor?” And they all usually say they’re wealth advisors. And then you sort of get into the follow-up questions of: “What do you do around planning, both comprehensive and episodic? What do you do around the banking side of the balance sheet, the liability side of the balance sheet, and what do you do around insurance?”

Jim: One of the big trends that I see is that—and this has been said at a number of conferences—planning is the new alpha. So if you’re going to generate great after-tax returns for clients, you’re going to get close to them, you’re going to understand their planning needs. The integration of services needs to go not only across different investment providers but across planning, investments, banking, and insurance so that it’s one holistic experience for the client and they feel that no matter where things are custodied, they can make sense of it in a holistic point of view. So I think that’s a trend that has been out there for a while but it has ways to go in terms of connectivity, sort of horizontally across the industry.

Craig: Your comment about the trust business is so true; we see that a lot. Opening the account on the trust platform is a lot more expensive than opening it on the agency platform. But firms just default to the trust because it’s there. So Joe, if they were connected to BridgeFT, would that make it easier to open up agency business from a trust standpoint? They wouldn’t have to put it on the trust platform?

Joe: Yes, so today we support that by wherever that data is coming from and bringing that together for them. In the future, one of our initiatives—similar to aggregating the data— is that we’re going to be tying in and unifying some of the API sets that allow… I’ll call it transactional capabilities on those platforms, like a unified account, opening API against multiple custodians. It’s about simplifying that process so that whatever you’re building works. Certainly initially right off the bat, we make that easier by having your brokerage data sit right alongside your trust data and being able to live that way in your application on the same pane, and then in the future, as we go along, enabling functions and capabilities on that, like money movement and other sorts that are coming off those platforms. So as an application developer, you don’t need to go and source that for six different back-office or custodians.

Craig: I would like to get a hold of that because we’re seeing issues where different vendors can’t do things as certain custodians. So the ops team is constantly swivel-chairing. They need the portfolio management platform to do a rebalance, but then they’ve got to jump over the custodial platform to move money. They can’t just do it from one place. Or if they’re journaling cash between accounts, they can’t do it through the portfolio management platform; it doesn’t have the capability. So it causes operational headaches, I have to say, for larger firms. Especially for the ones that are growing fast.

Joe: Yes, I think there’s going to be continued pressure on that because what you’re talking about is the desire of unification of the experience. And in order to do that, the word single sign-on isn’t used for that. You need to actually have a single pane interfacing with those systems behind the scenes to make that truly unified across that customer journey. As an example, what you mentioned, why is there an onboarding application, a planning application, a managed account application, or a service application? That’s all part of the same journey. And to get there, you’re going to need to drive it with APIs and enable services to multiple disparate systems behind the scenes.

Craig: Man, I could keep digging and digging on this—there’s so much here to talk about—but we are out of time. Joe, where can listeners find out more about BridgeFT?

Joe: BridgeFT.com or on LinkedIn.

Craig: It’s just that easy. Great! Joe and Jim, thank you so much for being here. I learned a lot.

Joe: Thanks, Craig! Thanks, Jim!

Jim: Thanks, Craig! Thanks, Joe!



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