Schwab Offers the Ability to Buy and Sell Fractional Shares
What Happened: Schwab announced it would allow investors to buy and sell fractional shares of equities. Right now, the move is for retail investors, and Schwab hasn’t commented on supporting the move on its advisor platform.
Why It Matters: Schwab is pushing aggressively to compete with startups like Robinhood and now Square’s Cash App, who are trying to take the front end of the customer acquisition funnel away from the giants through use of innovative features. From matching Robinhood on commissions to now rolling out fractional shares, Schwab is mixing things up. One thing is for sure: If the big custodial platforms all roll out fractional shares and no transaction fees for advisors, the concept of direct indexing is going to get a HUGE lift.
The IRS Offers Cryptocurrency Clarity
What Happened: For the first time since 2014, the IRS has issued updated guidance for how to handle cryptocurrency and taxes. The update offers guidance on how to calculate the cost basis for crypto assets, as well as recording tax liabilities.
Why It Matters: The groundbreaking moment for IRS regulation of crypto was when it ruled that coins were an asset, not a currency, subjecting gains on crypto holdings to capital gains taxes. This new guidance is providing more detail about the income tax treatment of esoteric technical events like “hard forks” in a cryptocurrency, but if blockchain securities ever have a shot at becoming a thriving asset class in the future, this kind of regulatory certainty will be key.
eMoney Announces Financial Planning for Millennials
What Happened: At the 2019 eMoney Summit, the technology provider announced a personal financial management mobile app geared toward millennial, next-gen investors called “Project Avocado.” The goal is to deliver the app through workplace retirement plans.
Why It Matters: First of all, I think all advisors are excited to see eMoney doubling down on financial planning and delivering some really head-turning innovation under the Fidelity banner. Second, millennial-avocado-stereotypes aside, the future of young people managing money is definitely mobile first—and might even be mobile only. It’ll be really interesting to see how this project develops for eMoney.
Broadridge Acquires Fi360
What Happened: Broadridge Financial Solutions announced its acquisition of Fi360, which offers fiduciary education and software for financial advisors.
Why It Matters: Congratulations to our friends at Fi360 on this exciting news. Broadridge has positioned the acquisition as a way to help it prepare advisors for Regulation Best Interest. With less than a year to go until implementation date, creating an easier path to Reg BI compliance should be a focus for anyone who provides services to broker/dealers.
(Disclosure: Riskalyze is working with Fi360 on ways to jointly help enterprises comply with Reg BI.)
Commission-Free Trades Come to Online Brokers
What Happened: Online b/ds Ally Invest and TradeStation Securities announced that they will both begin offering commission-free trading.
Why It Matters: You get free trades, and you get free trades ... it seems as though everyone is on the commission-free bandwagon. While on the surface, this seems good for consumers, I think it raises a lot of questions, namely about the revenue model for these firms. Is making money on order flow and interest rate spreads better than just paying for trades and getting better execution and interest rates? Time will tell if this business model sticks for trading and what the ripple effects will be for advisor custody.
MobileAssistant Redesigns Its Mobile App
What Happened: MobileAssistant, a dictation service for advisors, updated its Talk It mobile app with meeting templates. After a meeting, advisors can select a template and then read aloud each question in the template as they record audio. When the professional transcription is sent back, notes will be organized according to each question in the template.
Why It Matters: Congrats to Corey Westphal on this big step forward for his popular dictation app specialized for advisors. In the never-ending search for more efficiency, leveraging a transcription service can help advisors focus better during meetings and complete post-meeting organization faster. But while transcriptions are good, getting notes organized as if they were typed by someone in the room hasn’t always been possible. This clean delivery of transcribed notes looks like it can further boost advisor efficiency and, ultimately, provide a better meeting experience for an advisor’s clients.
Trading in the Square Cash App
What Happened: Square, which created Cash App for zipping money from one person to another, rolled out the ability for users to invest in stocks directly within its app. For as little as $1, users can get started and buy fractional shares of everything from AAPL to Z.
Why It Matters: I’m always intrigued by these avenues for young people to take their first step into investing. To me, that’s a rising tide that will have a big positive impact on financial advisors in the future. Download the app and try out the experience, though—this is the future of how easy financial services is going to get.
Whealthcare Planning Adds FinServ Leader to Its Board
What Happened: Whealthcare Planning announced the addition of Suzanne Siracuse, industry consultant and former publisher of InvestmentNews, to its board, as well as a goal to raise $2 million in capital to drive additional growth.
Why It Matters: Congratulations to Suzanne and co-founders Carolyn McClanahan and Chris Heye on joining together to address aging in wealth management. It’s the role of financial professionals to dig into uncomfortable moments to help clients prepare for financial uncertainties, but that doesn’t make end-of-life planning or other age-related decisions any less difficult. The role that Whealthcare’s software plays in enabling those conversations is important, and I’m sure Suzanne’s experience and vision will be felt immediately.