Edmond Walters Previews Apprise Labs’ Estate and Legacy Planning Tools
What Happened: Apprise Labs CEO Edmond Walters gave 3,000 attendees at the 2019 Envestnet Conference an inside look at his new estate planning software. Advisors had the chance to talk with the platform’s developers and received a live look at its functionality.
Why It Matters: Since its unveiling at the T3 Advisor 2019 conference, advisors have been eager to get their hands on Edmond’s latest software venture. Estate planning can be a tough conversation for advisors to have with clients, and more solutions that empower them to discuss their clients' financial legacies confidently will be a win for the profession.
LPL Speeds Up Account Opening
What Happened: LPL has updated its account opening process to require fewer fields for investors to fill out, resulting in a process that they say will take from 25% to 35% less time to complete. Additionally, e-signatures will now be bundled into a single process, rather than a multi-step workflow with separate emails for each signature on a form.
Why It Matters: Since robo-advisors made digital account opening en vogue, advisors have been pressuring custodians and broker-dealers to make their own processes easier and faster. LPL’s efforts to limit unnecessary emails and improve the client experience is on point. I know the 3,000+ LPL advisors who use Riskalyze will love this update!
FA Match Enhances Exposure with Six Fintech Partners
What Happened: Ryan Shanks, an advisor recruiter and founder of Finetooth Consulting, launched FA Match this year to help wealth management firms find advisors looking for a new firm. Six fintech companies, including Riskalyze, have partnered with FA Match to help market the new service.
Why It Matters: I’ve personally known Ryan Shanks for years, and his vision to bring the same digital revolution to financial advisors that online dating brought to how people build personal relationships is a noble effort. This service creates more opportunity for advisors to find a position they love, and it also helps wealth management firms to better vet their candidates.
Disclaimer: In addition to being an all-around exceptional human being, Ryan Shanks is also a Riskalyze board member.
RIA in a Box Adds Cybersecurity Training Service
What Happened: RIA in a Box, a provider of compliance solutions for advisors, has added cybersecurity training to its list of services. Now, you can subscribe to receive ongoing courses, as well as get a review of your tech stack and help with developing an information security policy.
Why It Matters: Cybersecurity concerns are everywhere for independent advisors, and with good reason: The client data you’re charged with protecting has to stay safe for the good of your clients. Unfortunately, cybersecurity is often too complex for many firms to deal with on a daily basis. Any assistance they can get, at a reasonable price, is going to be a win.
North Capital Creates Financial Planning Tool for Consumers
What Happened: A team of advisors from North Capital Inc. transformed their spreadsheet-based financial planning process into a free direct-to-consumer software tool. The web-based app is, in part, designed to generate leads for investment services built around Schwab’s Intelligent Portfolios robo-service.
Why It Matters: With all the attention financial planning is getting among independent advisors right now, it’s no surprise that some entry-level direct-to-consumer planning tools are popping up. It remains to be seen if self-directed planning can actually feed the growth of advisor-driven planning in the same way that a well-designed self-directed investing service can feed the growth of real financial advice.
LifeYield Gives More Advisors Access to Its Enterprise Tool
What Happened: LifeYield has enabled access to its enterprise tool for more of its clients, even those who aren’t enterprise-level subscribers. The tool looks at a client’s accounts and account types to help advisors plan a tax-efficient method for selling assets.
Why It Matters: We know that the planning needs of younger investors or mass-affluent individuals are often no less complex than those needed for high net worth clients—they’re just different. LifeYield’s expanded offering benefits advisors by helping them provide more comprehensive advice to more clients, regardless of their stage of life or net worth.
Salesforce Packages AI Platform into Its CRM
What Happened: Salesforce has added more AI tools to its Financial Services Cloud platform, courtesy of Einstein Analytics. Included tools will help advisors measure the likelihood a client may leave their firm and the likelihood of a client adding more assets.
Why It Matters: On the one hand, advisors don’t need more data, they need more intelligent use of the data they already have, and hopefully this update will provide a simple way for advisors to identify opportunities to better connect with existing clients. On the other hand, this seems like a competitive response to Redtail’s announcement (at last year’s Fearless Investing Summit) of adding AI analytics into their CRM. We know one thing for sure: all the advisors using Salesforce are hoping the new feature doesn’t make them roll their eyes and say “nice try, Einstein.”
Robinhood Gets a $7 Billion Valuation
What Happened: In spite of an ill-fated launch of checking and savings accounts, Robinhood is still rising and raising more capital. In its most recent valuation, reports have pegged the self-directed investing app’s valuation at between $7 billion and $8 billion.
Why It Matters: Has Robinhood learned the value of compliance? They were spotted hiring a regulatory counsel shortly after the savings account debacle that forced them to delete tweets and whitewash their web site. It turned out that “move fast and break things” may have been an okay model for Facebook’s early days, but it wouldn’t work well in fintech. The bright side is that Robinhood has built a solid business for self-directed investors. There are few questions about its cash generation capabilities despite the big questions about its business model.