The Big News from Schwab IMPACT 2018, In the Eyes of a Bystander
One of the constants with advisor technology companies is that when a big conference rolls around, new integrations and product enhancements are sure to follow.
Except as I followed the action and news coming out of the Schwab IMPACT conference this year from afar, that unbreakable rule didn’t seem to hold quite as true as it has in recent years.
The typical flood of press releases, amped-up marketing campaigns, and CEOs finding a new favorite buzzword seemed less prevalent this year. There was no earth-shattering announcements about advancements in AI that I saw, for instance.
In the weeks leading up to the conference, there was definitely news, with Junxure getting new portfolio analysis tools, Oranj adding third-party strategies from Vestmark to its platform, among other updates.
Maybe some fintech firms have decided that the onslaught of news that so often comes out of custodian conferences has produced diminishing returns as they try to slide into the DMs of a reporter’s increasingly crowded inbox.
Or maybe, product release cycles just didn’t time well with the dates for this year’s event.
Whatever the cause for my perceived pullback on innovative product news, there were still some major announcements worth highlighting from this week’s bash.
Here’s the big news from Schwab IMPACT 2018, as recorded by an observer about a thousand miles away.
Envestnet | Tamarac Integrates with Wealth Access
In addition to being a major player in data aggregation with connections to more than 20,000 financial institutions, Wealth Access has also become a leader in offering personal financial management tools that can help advisors create a digital client experience that focuses more on comprehensive finances than on performance returns.
The integration announced this week allows data to flow from the Envestnet | Tamarac platform to the Wealth Access client portal.
Wealth Access has created a client portal with intuitive navigation and a nicer user interface than many others in the industry, so this should be a nice win for Tamarac users looking for a more robust and modern online portal for their clients.
RIA in a Box and Morningstar Automate Compliance Tasks
Integrations that can automatically sync data from one platform to another are always welcome. The less manual entry that has to happen in advisory firms, the better.
So the ability to access and use Morningstar Office Cloud data will be a welcome addition to users of RIA in a Box’s MyRIACompliance software.
The integration will help advisors track registration and notice filings, and also perform real-time checks to make sure a firm is registered in the proper jurisdictions.
I especially love integrations like this because while it’s great for firms of all sizes, (like the press release makes sure to note) the benefit of more automation is greater for smaller firms who might not have the compliance staff to dedicate to these types of tasks and reviews that larger firms do.
AdvisoryWorld Updates its Proposal Generator
AdvisoryWorld’s Advisor Proposal Generator is an incredibly popular tool, and it got much better this week with the addition of a Monte Carlo simulation and the ability to associate a fee with a proposal and Investment Policy Statement.
A proposal generator like the one offered by AdvisoryWorld is becoming a more critical tool for firms and Monte Carlo simulation has long been cited as a favorite by advisors I’ve spoken to, so this is a great match that will advisors more of what I’m sure they’re asking for.
The Proposal Generator tool is also notable for the other fact that it allows for straight-through processing of new accounts, and the digitization of the new account opening process is a necessary and too often overlooked piece of an advisor’s workflow. It’s not a new addition to the tool with this update, but it’s still a good reason to use it.
Orion Advisor Services and Schwab Expand Digital Account Opening
Okay, so this one technically wasn’t announced at IMPACT this year—it’s from Orion Ascent, an annual user conference for Orion’s advisors.
Still, it’s notable here because it was featured in what appeared to be a highly-attended session at IMPACT. Also, any progress the industry can make in removing paper forms and moving into a truly digital workflow is important progress.
The integration accomplishes its digital-first mission by syncing client information from Orion’s platform over to Schwab Advisor Center, where clients can then review and approve any account applications their advisors have submitted.
The technology borrows from tools in Schwab’s Institutional Intelligent Portfolios™ platform and it’s good to see that technology being used for the benefit of advisors.
Schwab IMPACT Award Winners
It’s not fintech-related news, but since you’re here anyway, give it up for the firms who won IMPACT Awards in 2018:
Best-in-Business Impact Award™ - JMG Financial Group
Pacesetter Impact Award™ - Rebalance, LLC
Trailblazer Impact Award™ - The Colony Group
Best-in-Retirement Business Award™ - Fiduciary Investment Advisors, LLC
But the really big news from the event...Schwab brought in Shake Shack for the closing night party?
HiddenLevers Adds 10K SMAs to Platform
After I first published this post, HiddenLevers called me out on Twitter for missing their update, so first let’s give a shout out to their social media team.
As for the news itself? The company, a risk technology platform probably best known for their built-in list of curated scenarios that let advisors test portfolios against model recessions and other economic events, rolled out an update that adds live stress testing, proposal generation, and model review for SMAs.
The big benefit for advisors through this update is that better SMA data adds greater transparency, and the bundled data feed allows advisors to, as HiddenLevers’ press release puts it, “see if active management has really helped lower risk exposure, or captured the stated upside opportunities.”
What’s Coming Up for Fintech
Given the relative lack of earth-shattering fintech news during IMPACT this year, I’m expecting a lot of big announcements to come out during Joel Bruckenstein’s T3 Advisor Conference in late January/early February.
As a conference dedicated to technology innovation for advisors, T3 is often a hub for tech firms to announce new products—as well as for entirely new vendors to make their debuts—so I’m only more excited for the 2019 event than usual.
Did I miss some big fintech news? Let me know how wrong I am on Twitter.
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