Welcome to the October 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!
Redtail Announces Compliance-Approved Communication Platform
What happened: Redtail Technology, a provider of Client Relationship Management solutions for financial services firms, announced Redtail Speak at Riskalyze’s Fearless Investing Summit. The new solution is a compliance-approved, real-time communication platform embedded in their Redtail CRM. Speak enables advisors to communicate with clients securely via text while remaining compliant with all federal rules and regulations, including FINRA’s regulatory notice which states that all text messaging conversations must be recorded. Every conversation and document in the system is fully searchable and automatically archived. Activity is recorded daily and shared with the advisor’s email surveillance provider.
Why it matters: We couldn’t be happier for our friends at Redtail, who pulled out all the stops to announce this amazing tool at the Fearless Investing Summit. Redtail Speak solves a major pain point for thousands of advisors, and let’s just say we heard a lot of non-Redtail advisors there seriously contemplating using their CRM for the first time. Congratulations to Brian McLaughlin and the rest of the Redtail team!
Financial Engines Launches Solutions to Tackle College and Healthcare Expenses in Retirement
What happened: Financial Engines launched two new planners: a College Expense Planner and a Retirement Healthcare Expense Planner. Each utilizes forecasting to estimate these expenses during retirement so investors can make actionable decisions. The Healthcare Expense Planner enables users to estimate what they might need to pay for Medicare premiums and out-of-pocket healthcare expenses once they stop working. The Financial Engines College Expense Planner helps develop a savings and investing strategy to pay for college. “These two new digital planners represent a reimagining of how we can help 401(k) participants achieve their goals,” explained Karen White, vice president of consumer products at Financial Engines. “Building on many years of success driving better retirement outcomes, we’re developing additional innovative digital tools to provide personalized help with the big and small financial challenges that can sometimes eclipse long-term planning. By engaging people throughout their journey, we can help them balance the now with the next, empowering them to make choices with confidence.”
Why it matters: Planning expenses during retirement is hard to do, and these college and healthcare planners are going to be a huge asset for advisors. When you factor in that a retired couple might have over $260,000 in healthcare expenses, it changes the calculation completely.
Junxure Releases Cloud 4.0
What happened: Junxure made changes to its cloud-based CRM platform, Junxure Cloud, that includes streamlined navigation and expanded reporting capabilities. Junxure Cloud version 4.0 includes new navigation that maximizes screen space for client data and minimizes mouse clicks. It also now includes customizable record quick links, which provide one-click access to the most important client information. “With the release of version 4.0 we are enhancing the user experience so that our users can focus on outcomes rather than the use of the tool itself,” Greg Friedman, president and CEO of Junxure, said in a statement.
Why it matters: Great fintech is supposed to be intuitive, and most advisors are in their CRM constantly. Junxure has carved out a really important niche with a number of large RIAs, and their enhancements to the cloud platform are going to help them accelerate that transition away from desktop that they’ve been working so hard on.
Fi360’s Fiduciary Focus Toolkit Integrates with Trust Company of America’s Liberty
What happened: The partnership was designed to help advisors streamline their business processes by providing them access to critical client data within the Fi360 software, such as account information, balances and positions. The Fiduciary Focus Toolkit offers tools for staying compliant with new fiduciary requirements, including investment policy statement creation, watch list management and FINRA-reviewed reports. “Our integration with TCA enables their 7,000-plus advisors to focus on helping their clients achieve their goals and avert the time-consuming manual processes,” Fi360 CEO Bill Mueller said.
Why it matters: Two really great industry firms—Fi360 and Trust Company of America—come together to make life easier for fiduciary advisors. This will get a thumbs up from a lot of advisors.
IBM Gets Into Blockchain
What happened: IBM's new blockchain technology will allow financial institutions to more quickly clear and settle payment transactions. The company is working with multiple financial institutions to make payment networks more efficient and transparent so banking can happen in real-time, even in the most remote parts of the world. IBM’s new platform is already live and handling transactions across the Pacific islands, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, CNBC added. The technology is also expected to increase financial inclusion among individuals with restricted access to financial services in developing countries and could speed up cross-border payments and transactions which currently take up to several days to clear.
Why it matters: The promise of blockchain technology was improvement in speed to clear transactions, but the core of the technology is slowing dramatically, and the time it takes to close transactions is climbing like a rocket—exactly the opposite of its objectives. Color me skeptical, and it’s not because of anything IBM has done wrong, but if not course-corrected, blockchain’s days are numbered.
JPMorgan Buys WePay
What happened: JPMorgan has agreed to buy payments start-up WePay. The investment bank said it would provide its 4 million small businesses clients with WePay's payments technology.
“With WePay, Chase is taking the work out of payments for both our business clients and the software providers who serve them,” said Matt Kane, CEO of Chase Merchant Services. “We are powering payments for growth, so businesses can accept payments instantly, get paid faster, and never lose a sale.” The Wall Street Journal reported the price being above the $220 million valuation WePay reached in a 2015 funding round. WePay’s software is currently used by crowdfunding website GoFundMe, cloud-based accounting firm FreshBooks and online marketer Constant Contact.
Why it matters: WePay’s specialty was building a payments platform that could fit the unique needs of its customers like crowdfunding sites. Really curious to see if advisor-minded JPMorgan has the vision to create a version of WePay for advisors pursuing the retainer business model. With unique compliance needs, that would be an interesting model.
Wells Fargo Creates Rebalancing Tool
What happened: Wells Fargo is piloting a new digital account rebalancing tool for its advisors called ART. Advisors can use ART to review client information and forecast returns, run scenarios to see how allocation changes impact forecasts, and obtain recommended buys and sells needed to rebalance the portfolio. Wells plans to release the tool in the first quarter of 2018.
Zar Toolan, director of advice quality at Wells Fargo Advisors, says ART accompanies the firm’s program for monitoring how closely clients’ investment portfolios align with their financial plan of record. He said adding a rebalancing tool is about giving “advisors the best applications possible” to deliver “high impact advice to clients.”
Why it matters: Always great to put tools in the hands of advisors, but from my perspective, this is like announcing you’re rolling out support for Internet Explorer 9. The next generation after trading and rebalancing is the automated account platform, so Wells has some catching up to do!