In a major milestone for Orion, following its acquisition of financial planning technology provider Advizr, the firm unveiled its enhanced, single sign-on client portal. The remodeled portal borrows the user interface and experience, financial planning, document vault and Plaid-powered data aggregation from Advizr, building on the performance and account details and investment components of the “legacy” Orion client portal.
The latest client portal enhancements send a strong signal that Orion is moving beyond portfolio management, said Eric Clarke, founder and CEO of Orion, in a statement. “We built our legacy portal to support our core mission at the time,” he said in a statement. “It is still a robust, white-labeled solution for investors to see their key portfolio and investment information. But when we acquired Advizr’s powerful planning tools and user interface in the summer of 2019, we understood our mission had expanded to encompass a more complete fiduciary process.”
As a result, the Orion ecosystem is coming more clearly into focus: advisors can execute digital marketing campaigns using Market*r, follow through on financial planning using Advizr’s now-integrated features and turn to Communities to find a model portfolio that best suites the clients’ needs. There are even a growing list of insurance options available, with firms like Pacific Life integrating commission-free variable annuities and fixed indexed annuities with the platform.
In addition to the client portal improvements, custodian Apex Clearing has added its own integration with Orion: a fully digital onboarding, account opening and account funding experience. While paperless onboarding isn’t new (Schwab built its own integration with Orion two years ago), the Apex onboarding “is still probably the fastest out there today,” said Hussain Zaidi, chief strategy officer for Orion Advisor Tech.
Often touted by vendors and providers in the past with little evident client demand, client portals are gaining new importance in the post-COVID-19 financial services landscape. The improved client portal launch followed a demand spike among advisors’ clients for access to their financial information, said Zaidi. The firm saw a 20% increase in portal logins in early 2020, with March user stats reflecting clients viewing their investments more than usual and April user stats showing an abnormally strong focus on long-term financial planning.
For Zaidi, it was an opportunity to see theory reflected in reality. “Our industry is moving in the direction of financial planning being a critical part of the client journey,” he said, adding that advisors are no longer just focused on investment management.
An Aite Group report published in February noted that client service and support take up an estimated 30-35% of advisors' time. Advisors who are able to trim that number through an effective client portal should see greater business efficiency, said Greg O’Gara, a senior analyst at the firm and one of the report’s authors. One of the ways of doing that is making it easier for clients to self-service.
If clients are able—and comfortable—with accessing documents and reports, “it helps unburden financial advisors,” said O’Gara. “It takes the pressure off manually trying to address client issues.”
Socially-distanced advising has only added urgency to that equation, he said. Firms are beginning to look at built-in proprietary videochat capabilities in their client portals, adding that he didn’t think Orion should count itself as having completed its own client portal. “The tech landscape is moving so quickly that anyone who sits down to rest is going to go out of business,” he said.
“The wealth management landscape is in transition,” he added. “COVID-19 has turbocharged [expectations around]…digital aspects of the system to be deployed.”
Advisors who find themselves without the tools they need to service clients, while staying socially distant, will soon find their own productivity falling—and potentially losing business. Keeping those advisors happy means pressing onward when it comes to client portal improvements, like those made by Orion he said.