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Advisor co-founder and CEO Hussain Zaidi
Advizr co-founder and CEO Hussain Zaidi

Orion Buys Planning Tech Provider Advizr

Marking yet more consolidation, Orion Advisor Services closed a deal to buy New York-based financial planning and workplace planning tech firm Advizr.

Orion Advisor Services announced its “multimillion-dollar deal” to purchase financial planning software provider Advizr on Wednesday morning. The move, facilitated by a “common code base,” will see Advizr integrated with Orion’s core tech offerings as soon as next month. Orion’s turnkey asset management platform, FTJ FundChoice, soon-to-be-renamed as Orion Portfolio Solutions, is expected to be integrated with the acquisition in November.

Both integrations will happen without additional fees for advisors. The exact terms of the deal were not disclosed.

While many might view the acquisition as a direct response to Envestnet’s $500-million purchase of PIEtech’s MoneyGuidePro in March, Orion's Clarke said that is not the case.

While we certainly admire and greatly respect the competition … this is a strategic acquisition for us,” he said.

Orion’s CEO, Eric Clarke, believes the Advizr client experience is so sound it made sense to buy it. “It really lends itself to an opportunity for us to democratize planning out to all the households that our advisors are serving,” he said. “Ultimately what we're doing is creating a very compelling and engaging process that gets the investor excited about the planning experience [and] that gets them excited about the action steps that they need to take to move their situation forward.”

That client engagement is key to the company’s growth and key to the growth of advisors using the technology it provides, he added.

In addition to providing Orion with an enhanced financial planning capability and an improved client experience, Advizr will boost the wealth management platform’s “retirement business,” said Hussain Zaidi, co-founder and CEO of Advizr.

When the firm entered the tech space in 2012, it focused on providing financial planning as a means to improving the user experience at scale, Zaidi said. The firm used financial planning as a marketing device, where planning was used as a way to generate leads, and as an introduction to an advisor, where planning was self-paced by the client and eventually led to a client-advisor interaction. Those approaches caught the attention of recordkeepers and employers who wanted to engage “millions of employees in a really efficient way,” eventually manifesting in a workplace solution.

“Financial planning just happens to be the vessel,” he explained. Clarke added that Advizr will be enhancing the income proposal capabilities of the firm’s TAMP, a demand he expects to increase as baby boomers continue to retire.

The wealthtech industry has witnessed stand-alone tools beginning to coalesce onto advisor panes, with Envestnet’s PIEtech MoneyGuidePro as the most visible example.

Clarke doesn’t see that trend slowing down. In fact, he thinks the client experience will follow the same course as that of the advisor dashboard. In that way, Advizr’s focus on client experience is a strategic advantage in the battle for advisors’ business, he said. “We're focused squarely on creating a next-gen client experience,” he added.

“This acquisition fits squarely in the client experience category for our advisors that we serve,” he noted.

Looking forward, a “very near” term addition to Orion’s offerings could be “higher-yield cash accounts,” said Clarke. Advisors at Carson Group’s Excell conference were cheered by a high-interest cash solution announced in May and automated investing platforms have been quick to bring in investor assets with the lure of high yields. In the immediate future, Orion and Advizr will be working to quickly integrate their features.

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