Advisors on the Orion WealthTech platform will have access to a comprehensive suite of banking offerings this summer, thanks to a partnership with Focus Financial Partners, announced Wednesday.
Orion Advisor Solutions made a deal with Focus Client Solutions (a Focus subsidiary), which has built out the network of banking partners over the past two years to initially serve its own ultra-high-net-worth and high-net-worth client bases.
Focus joins others who have also rolled out banking and lending services for RIAs, including Dynasty Financial, Carson Group and Envestnet’s Credit Exchange. But Focus founder and CEO Rudy Adolf says his firm's offering is different.
“Those are marketplaces; this is very different,” said Adolf, as he described the “sophisticated” network of 15 banks and several nonbank financial institutions intended to support both the private and commercial needs of end clients that make up the group of lenders the firm has put together.
“This is a curated experience from a group dedicated to this, deep-expertise [Focus] bankers that interface with this network of banks, lenders that none of these marketplaces could get,” he said.
The FCS offerings range from access to cash management (via white-label cash management provider StoneCastle Cash Management) and lending alternatives for personal, business and nonprofit needs, that are meant to help both Focus’ and Orion’s advisors better compete with private banks and wirehouses.
Cash services include a range of FDIC-insured deposit programs at “competitive rates for clients’ portfolio cash and held-away cash balances,” according to the announcement, while the lending options “include securities-backed and insurance premium finance lines of credit, commercial and business loans, residential and commercial mortgages, and air and watercraft financing.”
The FCS service team is another differentiator in what the firms’ partnership will provide advisors as a benefit beyond competing cash and lending offerings: “a high touch, interpersonal model” guiding both the advisor and end client through the banking and lending processes.
Advisors on the Orion platform will access these capabilities, once fully built out, directly from within the platform via an integration with the FCS credit portal.
“That integration will just be the beginning,” said Orion founder and CEO Eric Clarke. He said that the cash management and lending integration will kick off with the workflow processes needed for advisors to initiate the different types of cash and lending offerings but ultimately the most powerful aspect will be bringing together full reporting on the back end that will tie a client’s banking and investing together in one set of reports.
“That connected experience is a key differentiator we are looking to provide,” Clarke said.
“This is going to be new for so many of the advisors on the platform [Orion]. The vast majority of our advisors haven’t had access to providing these services before,” Clarke said.
As to cost, Adolf said a “relatively small membership fee” would be charged to Orion advisors to use the FCS portal and services, but that fee has not yet been determined. Access is free for RIAs within the Focus Financial Partners network. Adolf also said that certain advisors will have the ability to earn a revenue share once the full program is up and running, although he declined to elaborate on how that will work.
Orion’s Clarke said that the firms had already been working on the project for six months and are closing in on full support of the integration, which will open for an initial beta program to select advisors at the end of the first quarter. He said Orion was currently in the process of evaluating firms that would participate but was not ready to name any.
“We want to make sure the advisors we work with on the initial beta are going to be willing to give us the critical feedback necessary,” he said.