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Established in Sydney in 2013 and now also operating in the US and Europe, Practifi aims to deliver a new form of technology platform for advice businesses to run the whole organisation, not just part of it. This is a business management system that extends across an enterprise. Leveraging Salesforce as a platform for infrastructure and security, they have added 115 customer objects which can be deployed to meet a range of customer needs. The service is designed to accommodate multi-disciplinary practices that include estate planning and tax advice in addition to financial planning. The system can display a wide range of dashboards and provide a full perspective of all interactions an organisation is having with a client, a family, another extended group of related individuals or entities. It can also identify where multiple clients are supported by the same external third-parties. Wherever possible extensive summaries of key information are contained within a single screen but they can be viewed from multiple different perspectives. This is an end to end business management platform, it does not provide product speciality systems, such as portfolio management or financial planning, or for accountants an accounting platform, but delivers clients the ability to run every workflow across multiple different third party systems all in a single view. This is particularly beneficial for multi-disciplinary firms needed to use individual specialist systems. They can use Salesforce communities to build client portals for individual clients, but do not produce an off the shelf tool. The ideal client is a growth orientated firm who have either complex business themselves, supporting multiple disciplines, very complex processes where they need to bring together several third party systems, or complex clients such as those needed by a ultra high net worth or multi-family office. I am coming across an increasing number of situations where there is a need to connect different professional specialities within larger organisation works, in the second stances this may have much to offer. (written by Ian McKenna) Founded in 2010, the company have 700 clients live on their platform with close to $2 trillion in assets from firms with under $50 billion in assets, i.e. excluding some of their largest clients who include global banks and asset managers. InvestCloud have created over 300 different apps which can be combined to create a wide range of content, either as end-to-end solutions or as gap filling components to supply features and functionality which an organisation may not have in their native technology proposition. They will deliver as much or as little as a customer needs. You don’t have to take the full suite of their services. Prioritising design as a core competence means propositions can support different personas from the very digitally savvy to traditional analogue customers. Services range from client portals, adviser portals, digital on-boarding, financial planning and a wide range of other functions. It is worth looking at their periodic table of financial apps at investcloud.com to get a feel for the full range of options. If you look at the table it highlights InvestCloud expertise in Experience (InvestCloud Blue), Management (InvestCloud Orange) Analytics InvestCloud Black and Processing InvestCloud Green. All services are fully mobile optimised and tablet-enabled. This summer they acquired the rplan business set up by former Cofunds tech guru Andy Creak, who will be well known to anyone in the UK investment industry. This demo really only scratched the surface of what can be offered by the firm who are becoming and increasingly significant player. (written by Ian McKenna) Founded in 2016, Clearnomics is a report writing tool to provide advisers and wealth managers with detailed market and economic insights for their clients via desktop, mobile and tablet devices. Using a series of pre-programmed online questions, with bespoke customisation available, the adviser is able to select specific data items such as stock market and investment performance, which is of particular interest to the client, over a desired timeframe. This will automatically create a ‘chart book’ using a combination of their Intelligent Assistant and API feeds, which can be adviser-branded and saved to the client record for use as part of the advice process in order to save the adviser time in conducting their own lengthy research documents. (Written by Jason Green) Smartleaf is an automated rebalancing platform tool to improve efficiency and compliance for advisers. The company was founded in 1999 originally as a D2C offering many years before the term ‘robo’ was coined. In 2003 they gained their first Bank Trust client and the proposition seen today was developed. Smartleaf provides highly automated tax management, at scale, for any sized portfolio ranging from $100,000,000, open architecture UMA accounts, to $5 robo equity investments which in turn can save more in taxes on average than what is paid in fees. Distributing via three product channels, the service is used by over 1,000 advisers, TAMPs (Turn Key Asset Platforms) and robo clients. The number of end users has not been disclosed. Everyday each account is rebalanced using a series of filters and queries which select various accounts and trades. These filters are all set by the client so that Smartleaf can trade the required accounts when necessary. The system understands which accounts need to be traded and which don’t (such as unknown securities). This produces tax savings and reduces tracking errors in the portfolio and makes it more aligned to the client’s desired asset allocation and goals. Each trade which is suggested by Smartleaf is assigned a cost benefit score. This identifies the commissions and taxes (cost) and how much closer this trade will get the client to their chosen goal or targets (benefits). Portfolio health check reports for advisers are also produced to give to clients which demonstrate the savings made via the tax optimisation. The average taxes saved for accounts managed on Smartleaf last year was 1.60% of portfolio value, which is more than most adviser fees. (Written by Jason Green)
This week I am in New York for the opportunity to see the very latest wealth technology innovations and to hear from several of the industry leaders who are transforming the way Americans access financial advice. Now in its third year, the In|Vest conference provides a heady mix of powerful tech demonstrations and exceptional thought leadership. For me the big message on day one of the show was machine learning and artificial intelligence is now part of the emerging landscape. In what follows I will highlight some of the early leaders. The volume of these offerings on display makes me feel the US may again be pulling ahead of the UK in FinTech and especially WealthTech. After a brief opening where Salesforce highlighted that their forthcoming 2017 Connected Investor research will identify that 47% of investors would be happy for artificial intelligence to used by their wealth management firm the day began with a whirlwind of demos of disruptive technologies. The videos of these will be up on the In|Vest website at http://conference.financial-planning.com/conferences/invest/ in a few weeks but in the meantime here are my highlights. First up was Salesforce with their Financial Services Cloud providing great visualisation of relationships, interactions and delivering insight. It is clear from the number of integrations Financial Services has in the US that the American proposition is a long way ahead of their UK offering but this does give an indication of where Salesforce may be in the UK in a couple of years. That said while the system can offer some awesome integration of consumer data I wonder how much of this would be allowed in Europe post the introduction of GDPR next May. This makes me wonder if the European Union and Fintech are on a collision course. I am increasingly worried that the excesses of GDPR and the EU’s inability to produce timely regulation could seriously damage the EU Fintech industry. Robert Stanich of IBM Watson showed how machine learning can identify clients at risk of leaving and how using artificial intelligence can transform client segmentation all beyond recognition. The service can also predict real life events and related product opportunities before your clients realise they have these needs. Watson has the potential to transform lead management so your existing data becomes your primary source of new business opportunities. Oranj showed a great onboarding experience with held-away data and risk profiling but fell foul of the eight-minute rule so ran out of time to show their full services. Comarch showed a very cool voice-controlled interactive artificial intelligence chatbot called Devra. Advicent showed great life protection tools they have built which makes me wonder why the cool omnichannel protection service they built for Scottish Widows never saw the light of day. An opportunity missed. MX then arrived to show why they do aggregation, categorisation and user interfaces for Personal Financial Management better than anyone else in the world. It is a great shame they don’t want to come to the UK as they have so much business in the States. Circle Black, a company that is entirely new to me, showed a stunning client facing tool set with API integration into Redtail, MoneyGuidePro, Riskalyze and many more. Fidelity owned eMoneyAdvisor showed new marketing tools advisers can adopt to transform the way they use and manage social media and then onboard the resulting new clients. I continue to believe there would be huge benefits in Fidelity bringing their offerings to the UK. InvestCloud showed some of the over 200 Apps their adviser clients can use. I love the vast amount of data they are making easily available to their users and the virtually endless look, feel and design features advisers can adapt. They are featured in the next update of F&TRC’s Adviser Software Insights study and have just set up an innovation centre in London so I will probably be looking at them in far more detail soon. Riskalyze describe their role as protecting consumers against their worst decisions. I am a big fan of how they present risk to clients. To me it is so much better than stochastic pods. This is all about talking to clients in ways they understand. Their Autopilot approach with its One-Click Fiduciary makes a great case for the FCA reviewing the UK client money rules as it can offer better consumer outcomes at significantly lower cost. One of the biggest moments of the day for me was Hello Wallet founder Matt Fellowes, the man who transformed financial wellness presenting his United Income business which aims to transform retirement income. This makes it beautifully simple to understand how clients are doing then build and achieve financial life goals. It is great to see United Income building plans taking consumers to +100 years stretching savings to match increased longevity. I was also impressed by DataRobot who are delivering a quick way to benefit from artificial intelligence, something I believe advisers can make huge gains by embracing Onist were one of my favourites from Finovate Spring and it is great to see them at In|Vest with their Family Office for the masses. I would love to see some of the artificial intelligence tools shown here added to Onist. The afternoon session was opened by one of the most compelling speakers in the US advice market, United Capital ‘s Joe Duran. Outlining why advice firms need to be both extremely human and extremely digital, whilst insisting that the planning process can be fully digitized, he argued humans need to do to things machines cannot i.e. provide empathy, understand human behavior and provide expertise and judgment to help with complex decisions. Charles Schwab CTO Timothy Heier pointed out we are no longer in mobile first phase, now it must be artificial intelligence first. This shows the era of AI in financial advice is now upon us. Mark Goines from Personal Capital highlighted that 65% of people who ever linked an account are still connected to them because they give them constant updates of good insights. He was followed by Bill Crager of Envestnet, who own Yodlee, who believes that a key component of building advice relationships with clients in the future is about giving consumers an integrated financial plan updated every day. This will actually provide a very gamified experience and I can see how it would have a similar effect to social media, we all want our regular fix of information and can’t resist looking at it regularly. These will bring together consumers short term and long term financial lives with information they want to access regularly. Crager sees artificial intelligence delivering answers to financial questions based on the data the adviser will have aggregated via these services. These last two issues are very relevant to the challenges that will emerge as banks re-enter the financial advice market which I will be exploring in my Money Marketing column next week. Through an invigorating and exhausting day the consistent message was we now need to start complimenting traditional advice services with unparalleled data and artificial intelligence to deliver a superior customer experience. This has been a quick canter through my highlights of day one of In|Vest I will try and add more detail from my notes over the next week or so, so please revisit this page for an updated view. I will report on the second day of the event soon.