Envestnet recently announced the latest tech updates to its wealth management platform. The upgrades are expected to be the last major ones of 2018, according to Danny Hamer, VP and director of product engagement at the company.
One of the biggest adds is the integration of SaleMove, a co-browsing and video integration service that will allow advisors to share their screen to jointly interact with clients, as well as allow Envestnet’s own support staff to work with advisors who may need help with the platform.
“This looks at how advisors’ practices are changing,” Hamer said of the integration. “They may not always be at their desk. They could be on the go or in some of the same types of scenarios we talk about with clients. We need our approach to service to be just as flexible.”
Co-browsing and video integration have been important enhancements to wealth management platforms in 2018; Orion Advisor Services also integrated with SaleMove this year.
Envestnet noted that plans over the next few months would include tools linked to Yodlee, the firm’s data aggregation subsidiary. AI Fincheck, which won “Best of Show” at the 2017 FinovateFall conference, will be integrated with Envestnet’s platform, said Blake Wood, SVP and director of product strategy, noting this was slated for completion in early 2019. The tool analyzes an individual’s spending and saving behavior, suggesting ways they can be more responsible with their finances.
Natural language processing is also an area of continuing development, confirmed Wood, who revealed that the company is planning a partnership around the technology. The partnership is “closely tied” to Yodlee’s Envision IQ demonstration and Intelligence for Financial Institutions, announced at this year’s FinovateFall conference.
Future progress with NLP will be built on the analytics capabilities that are already in place, as Envestnet seeks to integrate artificial intelligence to communications between advisors and clients. One of the issues that the company is contending with as it moves further into voicebot technology is how to handle issues of privacy and personally identifiable information.
Machine learning and AI will be areas of growth for 2019, said Wood. “There was a lot of focus on ways that we could be leveraging AI tools that are out there, open source AI tools,” he added, characterizing internal discussions on innovation.
For example, Wood envisioned a system where a client inquiry would cue a series of graphs and charts for the advisor, alongside possible responses that an advisor can provide to the client. It wouldn’t replace the advice of an advisor, but it would make it easier for an advisor to compile and provide that advice. “It kind of gives us a little bit of that human element that makes everyone more comfortable,” he said.
Also on the roadmap for 2019 is the launch of Insurance Exchange and a closer integration with features offered by BlackRock, which recently took a minority stake in Envestnet.
Insurance Exchange is available as a pilot launch starting January 2019, said Wood. “We want to make sure that we’ve got all the bugs worked out,” he noted. “There’s still kind of a lot of work to do beyond the technology—to make sure we’ve ironed out a process that is repeatable and deployable at scale.”
Right now BlackRock and Envestnet have “some light integration,” said Wood. Advisors who use tools offered by the two companies have a single sign-on, but still flipping back and forth between the services. The goal is to eliminate the time spent moving between the tools, so that advisors benefit from a more streamlined workflow.
A big rollout of new and improved features for Envestnet is expected after the firm’s advisor summit in Spring 2019, said Hamer, who said it will be “one of the largest development releases that we’ve ever done.” The firm has been growing its development team and improving its internal workflows, citing a weekly output measured in “development days” that saw a 24 percent increase in weekly output in 2018, compared to the prior year.