The finalists for the 2020 Wealthmanagment.com Industry Awards—known as the “Wealthies”—were announced this morning, highlighting current initiatives across a broad range of individuals, companies and organizations whose work helps financial advisors build better practices and improves the quality of services for their clients.
In place of the annual dinner gala where finalists are recognized, WealthManagement.com has also today unveiled its plan for an all-digital events program for the 2020 finalists and winners—born out of lingering travel restrictions and health concerns from the coronavirus pandemic—that, the company says, “will significantly expand opportunities for company participation and audience involvement from financial advisors.”
The awards program received 625 entries from 221 companies this year, and 155 organizations were selected as finalists in one or more of the 73 qualifying categories. A panel of independent judges pulled from different corners of the wealth management space selected the initiatives they felt had the most relevance and impact to help financial advisors, and they will select the winner in each category to be announced in the fall.
For the first time, special Editorial Awards will be handed out at the event recognizing Deal of the Year, Story of the Year, Executive/Person of the Year and Lifetime Achievement, as decided upon by the WealthManagement.com editorial staff.
“The near record-breaking number of nominations and companies that participated this year—at a time when many firms were preoccupied with the economic crisis, a global health pandemic and adjusting to a new virtual work environment—is a strong testament to the value that firms place in the awards as a way to enhance their reputation, increase their brand recognition and set their organization apart from the competition,” said WealthManagement.com Managing Director William O’Conor.
Several companies are finalists in more than one category. TD Ameritrade, whose acquisition by Charles Schwab is slated to close toward the end of this year, is a finalist in five categories for large RIA custodians, including for corporate social responsibility and technology (for upgrades to the VEO One platform.) Schwab Advisor Services is a finalist in three categories and will face off against one-time rival TD Ameritrade in the practice management category.
Fidelity is a finalist in four categories, including two for large custodian, as well as asset management and family office initiatives.
Other multiple nominees include Morningstar, a finalist in 11 categories across asset management, research providers and technology; eMoney, a finalist in six technology categories, and Envestnet, a finalist in four categories, including socially responsible investments for its Impact Quantitative Portfolios.
Cetera Group and Advisor Group each have four nominations for large independent broker/dealers, while LPL is a finalist in three categories, as is Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
For asset managers, Ark Investment Management is a finalist in three categories, including its innovation suite of ETFs as well as Sebastian Benkert for chief marketing officer of the year. Other multiple finalists in asset management categories include 361 Capital, Guggenheim Investments, Janus Henderson Investors, John Hancock Investment Management, First Ascent Asset Management and Just Invest.
WealthManagement.com also announced that the major in-person activities recognizing this year’s finalists and winners will all be held as virtual events—including the Sept. 10 awards presentations and the Technology Roundtable traditionally held in New York City. “The health and safety of our staff, colleagues and business partners is our top priority,” O’Conor said. “By going virtual, we’re envisioning an awards event that in many ways will be like the Golden Globes meets the NFL Draft—making this year’s program bigger, better and more exciting than ever.”
The traditional afternoon technology roundtable for C-suite executives this year will become the Wealthies Digital Forum, a virtual event held Sept. 24 that explores the current state and future direction of advisor technology. The new digital format will offer expanded panelist opportunities, a much larger audience, and increased marketing and promotion for finalists, winners and sponsors. Additional Digital Forum discussions on asset management and marketing are planned for the fourth quarter of 2020.
New this year will be the introduction of the Wealthies Circle, a digital content platform meant to provide finalists and winners with year-round exposure to the WealthManagement.com community of 435,000 financial professionals both for their initiatives as well as broader content from the firm.
The 2020 Wealthies Virtual Awards event will take place Sept. 10, and the Wealthies Digital Forum will be on Sept. 24.