Wealth management platform Black Diamond, owned by SS&C Technologies, is launching its own insurance marketplace for RIAs in partnership with DPL Financial Partners, according to an announcement.
Called “Advent Insurance Marketplace Powered by DPL,” the new marketplace provides advisors with fee-only insurance products—including annuities—alongside comparison, education and discovery features provided by DPL. These “product discovery tools” are designed to make it easier to evaluate clients’ existing products against the stock of products offered by Allianz Life, Great American Life Insurance Company, Security Benefit Life Insurance Company and Midland National. The two firms first announced they were building the marketplace in the second half of 2020.
The new insurance marketplace, integrated into Black Diamond Wealth Platform, makes it easier for advisors to find, evaluate and report on insurance products, said David Lau, founder and CEO of DPL. Advisors using the new marketplace will also have access to DPL’s consulting team and a host of educational components, including videos and whitepapers, he said.
Roughly 100 firms participated in the pilot phase of the marketplace and there are three more insurance providers that Lau expects will be added in the near future. “This is only possible with carriers that have demonstrated their commitment to RIAs through their commission-free product offerings,” he said.
For its part, DPL’s partnership with SS&C is not exclusive; the firm is free to partner with and develop insurance marketplaces with other wealth management platform providers.
The availability of SS&C and DPL’s marketplace brings competition to the Envestnet Insurance Exchange, launched two years ago. One of Envestnet’s draws, which it operates in conjunction with Fiduciary Exchange (FIDx), is the integration of MoneyGuide’s financial planning into the Envestnet ecosystem.
But SS&C has taken a different approach. Black Diamond has “light” financial planning capabilities, but it largely relies on integrations to provide its users with access to planning software, said Steve Leivent, SVP and co-general manager of SS&C Advent’s advisory business. Information from the insurance products provided via the portal is passed through to integrated planning software, effectively bringing them alongside other investment vehicles like mutual funds or ETFs.
While SS&C and Envestnet are competitors, Leivent said, the two firms are going after different clients. The consumers for Envestnet Insurance Exchange are largely broker/dealer reps, he said.
“That’s a big part of who they serve. Our client base is almost the opposite,” he explained, stating that the new insurance marketplace’s user base is more than 80% RIAs. “It’s a bit of a different audience.”
The new marketplace gives RIAs better accessibility to, and tracking of, specialized fee-only insurance products, said Dennis Gallant, a senior analyst in the wealth management division of Aite-Novarica. “The timing’s right, especially with wealth transfer and retirement income back on the radar,” he said. “This is good for advisors.”
There are other incentives for fee-only advisors to reconsider their relationship with annuities and insurance, as well. Besides the accessibility and reporting provided by the new marketplace, the approximately 2,700 firms using SS&C Advent products on the advisory side, of which 1,800 are using Black Diamond, will have DPL’s membership fees waived. The membership fee at DPL is $1,000 per year for a firm.
Those advisors will have embedded access to DPL’s tool set that will help them walk through some of the decisions, like long-term care insurance, that historically they may have shied away from, said Leivent. “This really gives advisors the ability to close the loop and have that conversation.”