Here is your Riskalyze Fintech Five for September, a focused take on what we think are the recent top five stories in wealth management technology.
1. UBS Growth Plans in US Dented After Wealthfront Deal Fails
Our first story brings back memories of that old Julia Roberts film Runaway Bride. It felt like Wealthfront and UBS were halfway through the vows, and we’re not quite sure who started running first, but lo and behold, both parties issued a dignified statement that they had “mutually” decided to part ways before they even got married.
UBS had been set to turn Wealthfront into the digital client acquisition engine for its human advice business, and getting that deal done and priced at the top of the market for $1.4 billion was an absolute coup for Wealthfront.
The strange thing is that acquisition deals are normally binding, so just because UBS might have felt that it overpaid, it would normally take something far worse than that to give the company the leverage to get out of the deal. There’s definitely more to this breakup than meets the eye.
Ultimately, UBS is a behemoth and will be just fine. We wish the team at Wealthfront well as they try to find a different “human advice” acquirer.
2. eMoney Advisor Names Susan McKenna New CEO
Susan McKenna is an interim CEO no more. The former eMoney head of marketing, who has been its acting CEO since March when Ed O’Brien left for Fidelity, is now officially the newest chief executive officer for the powerhouse planning provider.
In recent years, eMoney has been vastly expanding beyond “just” financial planning tools for advisors, though, with its wellness app Incentive just one example of how it’s taking a more consumer-oriented turn.
Susan is leading eMoney into some exciting and uncharted waters, and we can’t wait to support their journey ahead. Congratulations, Susan!
3. ‘Sketch Guy’ Carl Richards Joins Elements as Chief Evangelist
In more personnel moves, Carl Richards, most affectionately known by many as The New York Times Napkin Sketch Guy has joined Elements as its chief evangelist.
Elements has made quite the splash on the WealthTech scene and bills itself as financial “monitoring” software rather than financial “planning.”
It’s a unique—and unprecedented—pairing. It’s not often that a startup this early on in its journey is able to snag one of the most recognizable voices in the financial planning industry.
I have no doubt that Richards’ star power will bring advisors to the Elements platform, and, paired with the interesting technology, this seems like a terrific match.
4. Brian McLaughlin Moves Into President Role at Orion Advisor Tech
Next up, our friends at Orion have announced some massive changes to their organizational structure and the way that the company's units will be run.
The first step is that CEO and founder Eric Clarke will hand over the day-to-day management of Orion’s technology business to Brian McLaughlin. McLaughlin is, of course, the founder of Redtail, which is Orion’s most recent and most notable acquisition, and now, he is president of Orion Advisor Tech.
Ryan Beach takes over the entire TAMP operation as president of Orion Wealth Management, and Kurt Brown will serve as president of Orion OCIO.
I’ll be hosting Clarke and McLaughlin on stage at the Fearless Investing Summit in a few weeks for a fireside chat on how their deal came together. I can’t wait.
5. CFP Board and Schwab Unveil Diversity Scholarship Program
And in our final story, Charles Schwab has joined forces with the CFP Board to offer scholarships to increase diversity within the industry.
As many as 16 scholarships will be awarded, at up to $10,000 per award, for students working toward an undergrad CFP Board registered program. The awards will offer $5,000 for students looking to complete certificate-level programs.
As has been noted many times, the industry is still underrepresented when it comes to what American society looks like as a whole. As of 2021, only 1.8% of CFP professionals are Black, 2.7% are Hispanic, and 23% are women—and if we want to connect more people to advisors, we need more advisors that can connect and serve a diverse range of client needs.
We’ve got a long way to go, but here’s hoping that this initiative and others like it will continue to make an impact in the financial advice profession.
Watch past episodes of the Fintech 5