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 Avise Financial co-founders Katrina Soelter and Leighann Miko RIA co-op
(L-R) Avise Financial co-founders Katrina Soelter and Leighann Miko

Avise Financial, A Technology And Services Co-Op For Advisors, Launches

The virtual platform is meant to streamline business administration and tech management for sub-$100 million advisors.

Los Angeles-based advisors Katrina Soelter and Leighann Miko on Thursday announced the launch of their RIA technology and services co-operative Avise Financial.

The virtual platform seeks to streamline and assist advisors in the many business administration processes that are a part of running an advisory firm. And as the co-op label might suggest, the member-owners pay fees to belong and use the technology and will get a vote on decision-making while at the same time retaining ownership of their own advisory firms.

Soelter and Miko work together at the RIA Equalis Financial. Miko started Equalis in 2017 and brought Soelter to the firm as vice president of financial planning last year.

Soelter said they started Avise Financial to serve the thousands of RIA firms that manage less than $100 million in assets. These firms often have trouble contending with regulatory oversight, compliance and in streamlining their operations. Members of Avise Financial will have the ability to use the platform's tech stack, which includes Wealthbox (CRM), AdvicePay (managing fee-for-service billing), Advyzon (multiple uses including portfolio management and reporting), MessageWatcher (compliance and archiving), and PreciseFP (onboarding). Additional software and providers will be added on an ongoing basis, they said.

“In the smaller independent space, a lot of advisors are seeking the freedom and ability to make their choices about their practice but are struggling with all of the work that goes into running a business,” she said. “It’s a big ask of one or two people.”

Will Trout, director of securities and investments practices at Datos Insights, said while many technology platforms say they support independence for financial advisors, Avise Financial goes further through a collaborative, shared-services model. He said Avise Financial is a “unique play” on traditional platforms.

“Harried advisors want less frazzle and more dazzle,” he said. “Service sells, and advisors want the ability to spend more time in front of their clients. Both parties crave meaningful human contact, particularly when it comes to planning.”

Avise Financial has a tiered fee schedule for members. The first $500,000 of topline revenue is charged 15%, the next $500,000 is charged 10% and anything above that is charged 5%.

Because Avise Financial is legally a co-operative, any excess income returns as a patronage dividend.

“Even if our pricing model ends up creating more net revenue at the end of the year than we need to operate, it goes back into the pockets of the member advisors themselves,” said Soelter.

To be sure, the XY Planning Network offers similar services as a turnkey advice and planning platform that includes business and operations services, compliance direction, a tech stack and community support, but not in the co-op wrapper. Also, XY Planning charges a flat fee as opposed to a percentage of revenue, as Avise Financial does.

Miko said at the end of the first year she hopes Avise Financial to be cash flow positive and have at least three to five advisors sign up. David Tassone, principal of Solidi Wealth Advisors, is the first advisor on the Avise Financial platform. Miko said Tassone is in the process of onboarding now and “is the quintessential perfect fit of what we’re looking for.”

“He is a breakaway from a larger RIA who wanted to work with the types of clients he wanted to work with,” she said. “He wanted to charge how he felt was fair with the services he was providing. We are providing full transition support for him. We’re using him as our use case for how we refine the process and how we strategize. We ensure what we’re doing is going to create a smooth process for every advisor that onboards after him.”

Avise Financial is also incorporating a residency program in its first year of operation. Advisors on the platform will be able to access operations, paraplanner and associate planner support services at cost with an hours-per-month model through the residency program.

Soelter said they also hoped that by relieving RIAs of some of the burdens of running a business, more emphasis could be placed on streamlining succession planning.

“By creating a space where younger advisors and advisors in the independent space can build a practice they’re proud of, it creates better opportunities for those conversations to happen with the back-end support of running the business so those transitions are really about client service rather than how we structure our business,” she said.

For all the focus on community, Trout said the success of Avise Financial will rely on the degree to which it can lighten the administrative and operational load facing advisors.

“Let's see if Avise can deliver,” he said.

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