InvestCloud has purchased the U.K.-based client engagement tech company rplan for $20 million, it announced today. Extolling the need for fund managers to pay attention to “the success of companies like Vanguard,” InvestCloud is touting its acquisition’s direct-to-consumer capabilities as a way for managers to grow their reach.
The acquisition comes at an interesting time for rplan. The company, which was launched in 2010, notified its own retail customers earlier this year that it would be discontinuing its direct-to-consumer investment platform, citing a lack of scale. At the time, rplan said it would focus on the business-to-business market, with its co-founder, Andy Creak, telling The Financial Times that “the best opportunities for us lie in the business-to-business market and not in the direct-to-consumer one.”
That’s not to say rplan hasn’t seen expansion lately. As recently as January, the company reported that in the last two years it saw revenue growth of 44 percent, had more than doubled its workforce and partnered with fund managers who have £22 billion ($29.5 billion) in assets under management.
“The success of rplan’s solution is indicative of a changing institutional asset management industry,” said John Wise, chairman and CEO of InvestCloud. “In the U.K., direct-to-consumer has been popular for several years, and hence more common as a channel. In the U.S., fund managers have been traditionally concerned about channel conflict. But the success of Vanguard with significant inflows is changing the landscape and the approach of other U.S. fund managers.”
Wise framed the acquisition as a way to “digitize” clients, noting that “institutional asset management is an important and growing segment for InvestCloud. The writing is on the wall: asset managers are trending toward multi-channel financial distribution that includes direct-to-consumer solutions.”
The company’s acquisitions abroad have helped InvestCloud “build a technology beachhead in Europe” and strengthened their tool and technology cross-selling, said Craig Iskowitz, founder and CEO of wealth management consulting firm Ezra Group. “Their purchase of Babel System gave them a solid, multi-currency portfolio accounting engine and a bunch of European wealth clients,” he added. “They obviously see asset management as a complimentary sector and writing a $20 million check for rplan makes them a major player in the space overnight.”
Iskowitz also noted that InvestCloud’s digital advice clients in the U.K. and Singapore (Nutmeg and WeInvest, respectively), show the company is serious about its service offerings for banks and advisory firms around the globe.
InvestCloud has been supporting new development via its fintech accelerators in Los Angeles and London, announcing in May that NameDrop, a company used to auto-fill forms and generate leads, partnered with the company as it brings its product to market. NameDrop joined Finworx, which is developing machine learning and natural language processing technology, and Efficient Tax, a startup using InvestCloud’s Programs Writing Programs solution to enhance its tax optimization platform.