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April 2017 Fintech Report Card - Top 6 Tech Events

Welcome to the April edition of the Riskalyze Fintech Review, where Riskalyze CEO Aaron Klein gives you the thumbs up or thumbs down on the biggest pieces of news to hit advisor technology in the last month. Regardless of your Risk Number, failing to read this piece may be the riskiest move of all.

Orion Launches Online Help Desk

What happened: Orion Advisor Services is launching Orion Social, a new advisor-facing application to improve the adoption and use of Orion’s technology by increasing accessibility. A form of online help desk, advisors can use Orion Social to connect with experts through live chat, look up online training tutorials and access an online forum to share ideas and best practices they’ve implemented at their own firms.

Why it matters: There is just no support experience better than live chat — it's fast, efficient and you can multitask while doing it. Orion Social should only improve Orion’s support experience.

Robo 401K Manager Blooom Abandons Enterprise Model, Turns to B2C  

What happened: The Kansas City-based startup, which earlier this year announced it received an additional $9 million in Series B funding, has decided to shift resources away from enterprise outreach in favor of direct-to-consumer marketing efforts. The move results in the layoff of 10 employees and the resignation of Blooom President Greg Smith, who focused on large enterprise partnerships.

Why it matters: This is a confusing move for Blooom. After watching Wealthfront and Betterment fail to gain anything close to the assets they need to deliver a return on capital, Blooom tosses out an interesting B2B strategy to double down on the same direct-to-consumer approach.

Quovo Raises $10 Million in New Round of Funding  

What happened: Quovo, the API management toolkit that boasts major tech player clients, raised another $10 million in funding. The data aggregator offers tools that allow visibility and access to all accounts in a single place, which financial managers use for better financial planning and assessment of customers’ needs. The fee-based tool raised its cash from F-Prime Capital and Napier Park Global.

Why it matters: As Quovo customers, we’re fans of the data aggregation technology they deliver. Big congrats to CEO Lowell Putnam and our pals David Jegen and Ben Malka at F-Prime Capital.

Colorado Proposes New Cybersecurity Regulations for Advisors  

What happened: Colorado has proposed changes to its cybersecurity laws in an effort to reduce the chances of client data getting into the hands of cybercriminals. Current regulations mandate written policies on preventing, detecting and responding to cyberattacks; a mandatory annual cybersecurity risk assessment and requirements for secure email. This Colorado proposal follows similar cybersecurity proposals in New York and other states are reportedly working on their own regulations for financial firms.

Why it matters: Focusing the industry on cybersecurity is great in theory. Patchwork regulation is not. Many of these changes affect smaller and mid-sized firms that lack large-scale cybersecurity resources. On the other hand, large firms that operate in different states have the added challenge of juggling rules and regulations from state to state. It’s a headache for advisors to implement and could put firms at legal risk.

Chain Inc. Hires Goldman’s Tom Jessop for New Bitcoin Partnership Efforts 

What happened: Chain Inc. has hired Tom Jessop, a senior technology executive from Goldman Sachs Group, to boost efforts in deploying the blockchain technology that underpins bitcoin. Jessop, who spent 17 years at Goldman Sachs, where he most recently led global technology business development. Mr. Jessop will be working on partnerships with fintech startups invested in blockchain technology looking to partner with traditional banks.

Why it matters: Doesn’t it seem like bitcoin has been making empty noise for ages? Chain hiring a senior technology executive from Goldman Sachs to spearhead partnerships between bitcoin and traditional currency adds a twist to the story,. Will advisors of the future really have to account for their BUM (Bitcoin Under Management)? Either way, it’ll be interesting to see how these efforts affect the industry, if at all.

JPMorgan Confirms Robo Advisor in the Works

What happened: In the summer of 2016, JPMorgan Chase & Co. CEO Jamie Dimon said his firm could give clients a free, automated investment service as part of a future bundle of digital-banking products. Last month, he revealed the bank is following through on the promise and building one. JPMorgan is following the lead of other banks into the automated investment space like Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch, and Dimon promises that this will be “an innovative take on automated advice.

Why it matters: It’s going to be very interesting to see what our friends at JPMorgan do here. If it’s just another plain vanilla self-directed investing service, it’ll probably grab some assets from the “free distribution” banks have walking into their branches every day, but it’ll never go that deep. On the other hand, if they decide to truly marry digital advice to human advisors in the branches, this could be a fascinating development.

Editors note: The views expressed in this column are Aaron Klein’s and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Wealthmanagement.com.

 

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