The Wealthtech industry never slows down so we’re back with more insight on what’s been happening over the past several weeks. If you’ve been following my column the past several months, you know that at F2 Strategy we’re in the unique position of being able to analyze the headlines and explain what impact we think industry news will have on advisors without bias. Here are our thoughts on five noteworthy Wealthtech headlines this November 2023:
Apex Fintech Solutions will launch a new fixed-income investing platform that will allow investment in fixed income through fractional corporate bonds and treasuries. It will give retail investors access to previously unreachable fixed-income markets. Given that bond lot sizes and the liquidity on fixed income is cumbersome and limiting to investors, it’s very exciting for advisors to have the ability to offer fractional bond access. What’s still outstanding for us is how Apex will manage things like deal size, inventory and best execution.
This news from Fidelity is kind of like the music industry shutting down the Napsters of the early 2000’s. We’re sure they’ll receive some blowback from a number of angles, (in fact it has taken Fidelity subsidiary eMoney years to wean itself completely off screen scraping and onto dedicated feeds), but it’s time we as an industry did this. In doing so Fidelity is promoting more qualified, more professional access to that data and they're also no longer allowing people access who are going to remonetize it or potentially use it nefariously somewhere else. We believe this is a good move that will make the industry more secure.
We’re going to leave the second half of this headline alone for now and comment on the fact that Carson replaced its chief technology officer, Nimesh Patel who left for Corient this summer, with a four-person tech council. This is not a great strategy in our opinion. Carson certainly has the opportunity to prove us wrong, but we’ve not seen decision-by-committee work out well for very many people and the number of really talented people leaving the firm is worrisome in our minds.
Raymond James Financial plans to integrate 55ip's tax management technology across its managed account platform to make tax-smart transition, rebalancing and ongoing tax-loss harvesting available to its managed accounts users by mid-2024. Traditionally, Raymond James is a pretty closed shop when it comes to sharing what technology they use and how they do what they do, so to publicly state that they're going with an outside technology firm is pretty impressive and feels like a big win for J.P. Morgan, which acquired 55ip in 2020 after a partnership with the startup (at the time a constituent of the startup incubator/studio TIFIN Group).
Wells Fargo is working to bring many more independent advisers to its platform. We like the idea that Wells Fargo is taking a stab at the advisory services and custody battle. More competition is great. Wells comes from behind in terms of perception—their technology is typically perceived as mediocre—but the potential for their bank channel to become a referral channel is massive. They have the opportunity to put real pressure on the current custodial business.
We hope you enjoyed our takes this month and that we see you again for more in December.