Wealthtech

What is Wealthtech? Technology Tools for Advisors and Wealth Management Firms

By  Mike Zaccardi

Disclaimer: In order to make Wealthtender free for our readers, we earn money from advertisers including financial professionals and firms that pay to be featured on our platform. This creates a natural conflict of interest when we favor promotion of our clients over other professionals and firms not featured on Wealthtender. Learn how we operate with integrity to earn your trust.

When you combine “wealth” and “tech”, the result is “wealthtech”. Wealthtech companies are helping financial advisors and wealth management firms achieve faster and more profitable growth.

Financial advisors and wealth management firms today are inundated with promising technology solutions that streamline client data, optimize portfolios, improve marketing effectiveness, and provide seamless back-end processes. But advisors and leaders of growing wealth management firms and financial institutions are often confused about where to get started.

After all, consolidation in the fintech industry is constant and the latest-and-greatest wizardry tool always seems to come to the market right as an advisor adopts the previous must-have solution. Knowing which wealthtech companies to work with and when to put them to use are important tactical choices for long-term strategic success.

But navigating the world of wealthtech is an evolving maze and the upfront costs can be a major financial commitment. Let’s guide each other along that journey.

What Is a Wealthtech Company? And What Does It Mean for the Financial Services Industry?

You might be familiar with work done by industry thought leader Michael Kitces. His “Financial AdvisorTech Solutions Map” is something to behold. It illustrates just how vast the landscape is. The point is that technological solutions for advisors must be understood.

So what is a wealthtech company? A wealthtech company is a financial technology business that offers digital tools and services to increase efficiencies and accelerate the growth of financial service providers serving individual investors.

Improving operational efficiency while retaining clients (and onboarding new ones) is imperative in today’s competitive wealth management industry. Innovative wealthtech solutions are varied, from lead generation tools to client assessments, and financial planning platforms to CRM systems. Even areas like social media optimization, business intelligence insight programs, estate planning tools, and 401(k) management services are included under the “wealthtech” umbrella.

All these areas help today’s advisors increase efficiency and dig deeper into a client’s goals and wealth planning picture. It makes for better service when done right and can help firms grow their business faster.

Wealthtech must be understood and adopted, however. Are advisors picking up on the trends? It’s questionable. According to a Schwab Advisor Services survey, 58% of independent advisory firms plan to invest in new tech programs over the next year. Considering all the digital tools at advisors’ disposal, that figure could be higher.

Why Wealthtech Is Important for Advisors and Wealth Management Firms

More advisors should make it a regular practice to review the best new wealthtech tools. Industry innovations can help advisors and wealth managers scale to serve more clients, reduce manual work, move employees to higher-value work areas, beef up the security of client information, and just simply save time and reduce clunky errors. It’s all about improving the client experience and creating value.

Wealthtech tools give wealth managers a leg up on the competition when they select the best applications for their practice. New software solutions and online services brought about by wealthtech innovations can reduce costs and free up time for advisors to focus on diligent and customized planning.

Streamlining back-end operational tasks also allows for more facetime with clients. Still, advisor adoption of wealthtech products has room to grow. According to a recent Kitces study (PDF), while some software categories like CRM systems and wealth planning software have high adoption rates, there are still many manual functions performed in spots such as lead generation, student loan management, overall plan monitoring, and estate planning. Financial advisors clearly need a boost to bolster their fintech use.

How Wealthtech Helps with Investing and Portfolio Management

Investment management might not be what comes to mind first when considering wealthtech applications. Consider that TAMPs and model portfolios from a broker-dealer can be rather simple to set and forget. But once again, the landscape is shifting under our feet. New ways of constructing and managing portfolios are here, benefiting asset managers and wealth managers alike.

Consider the growth in direct indexing platforms. Advisors can quickly create tailored investment plans for clients based on their preferences and existing holdings. The last few years have seen a boom in direct indexing platform launches and subsequent M&A. Remember when rebalancing software packages from firms like iRebal, Trade Warrior, and Envestnet were all the rage?

How the times have changed. Now we have Canvas, Pontera, and Riskalyze all pushing further into the portfolio management wealthtech space with innovative investment tools. And startups like Catapult which use a data-driven approach to help investors take the subjectivity out of choosing and sizing investments. There are even all-in-one products brought about by technology companies like FinFolio, Orion, Addepar, and a host of others.

Alternative investment solutions are gaining traction, too. Amid a world of low bond yields and high stock market valuations, some investors seek defined-outcome products. Today’s tech allows for more cost-effective products to be offered. Halo Investing, Simon, and Luma are a few firms working with advisors in the alt investment space.

Wealthtech surely will help in the process of transitioning portfolios from one generation to the next. According to a Cerulli forecast, some $84 trillion of wealth will change hands over the coming decades. Now, all that money will not simply move from one investment portfolio to another—surely much will go to charity, pay taxes, or simply be spent by the older crowd nearing retirement —but there will be the need for efficient buying and selling of securities for an investor group with perhaps more risk tolerance.

Wealthtech for Financial Planning – Helping Clients Understand Their Long-term Goals

The vast majority of wealth managers use a program like eMoney, MoneyGuidePro, or RightCapital. These are industry stalwarts. According to the Kitces study cited earlier, more than 80% of today’s advisors use some kind of financial planning software in their practice.

Today’s advisor understands that creating a financial plan is the easy part. Sitting down with a client, often two spouses, to review spending and saving habits, insurance and risk management, and retirement and estate plans, all while eyeing tax impacts can be a rewarding experience for an advisor. The real challenge lies in managing that plan. It’s a living thing that constantly changes as life events happen.

Moreover, pinning down clients’ true goals is never easy—it’s often an awkward conversation since clients rarely grasp what their “goals” really are. And goals-based investing (GBI) keeps gaining traction, so any wealthtech companies and digital tools that can help with the GBI planning approach can be valuable to many advisors.

Financial planning wealthtech solutions can help clients see and understand what they want. Sometimes specialized wealth planning tools like Maximize My Social Security, TaxCast, and LifeSite can be used in specific situations. Showing clients what their financial future can look like helps improve engagement and enhance the advisor-client bond.

Wealthtech for Practice Management – Leveraging CRM, Compliance Tools, and Scheduling Apps

Advisors constantly seek ways to improve firm processes so that more time is devoted to clients. Operational tasks that can save an hour a day are valuable. Choosing the right CRM and compliance tools goes a long way toward avoiding speed bumps in the day-to-day business operations of a wealth management firm.

Practice management can run the gamut: There’s gathering, completing, and submitting forms, performing billing, offering file sharing, account aggregation tools, and scheduling applications, among others. Financial technology companies promising help in the back-end area of firm operations include Billfin, Agreement Express, Dropbox, FutureVault, and Wealth Access.

Compliance can be a whole different animal. Amid a changing regulatory world and a growing focus on doing what is best for each client (think Reg BI), advisors should promote the best possible compliance practices in their business.

What also comes with a quickly changing wealthtech environment? Compliance complexity. The fintech world is already struggling to keep up, according to a recent Financial Planning deep dive. Expect new niche players to crop up, all offering to offload compliance tasks from advisors. Currently, RIA In a Box, ComplianceMax, and SmartRIA assist advisors in this area of the business.

Wealthtech for Marketing – How Advisors Can Better Grow Their Business

Arguably the most intriguing wealthtech niche is leveraging advisor marketing solutions to grow and build better practices. It’s not always about acquiring more and larger accounts. It’s often better to find the right clients with whom to work. A win-win relationship is paramount for today’s advisors, wealth management firms, and financial institutions.

Digital marketing service providers are being hired left and right for help with content marketing, telling the advisor’s story, optimizing social media usage, climbing the SEO ladder, and simply getting clients to see the big picture via the right mediums.

Firms like FMG Suite, Seismic, The Model FA, Hearsay, Snappy Kraken, and others are solely devoted to helping advisors and boutiques build a brand.

Wealthtender is another rapidly growing wealthtech provider playing a significant role in helping advisors grow their businesses through digital marketing services, including the industry’s first financial advisor online review platform compliant with the new SEC Marketing Rule.

Other marketing functions like lead generation platforms and social media outreach are more important than ever. Startups like Catalyze AI and Seven Group are newcomers generating a lot of buzz in the industry for their unique value propositions to help advisors succeed with lead generation services powered by artificial intelligence and big data, and content marketing tools, respectively.

There are even archiving firms such as Global Relay, Smarsh, Presults, MessageWatcher, and Pagefreezer to help with properly tracking social media content to comply with regulations.

Conclusion

Technology continues to reshape the wealth management industry. All facets of an advisor’s job have a wealthtech solution these days. From finding the right clients to onboarding to creating and managing plans to digital marketing, there isn’t a piece of an advisor’s practice or aspect of a wealth management firm that cannot be improved with tech solutions. Creating time to focus on client relationships while lowering costs help grow business and improve experiences for clients.

It’s no easy task keeping up with all the latest wealthtech companies and products out there. Advisors are surrounded by sales pitches and lofty promises. Sifting through the vast offerings in the wealthtech sector sometimes requires the help of consultants and industry experts. As wealth transitions to the next generation, periodic investment into finding and implementing the right wealthtech solutions will likely be a wise play for advisors.


Mike Zaccardi CFA

About the Author

Mike Zaccardi, CFA®

Mike is a freelance writer for financial advisors and investment firms. He’s a CFA® charterholder and Chartered Market Technician®, and has passed the coursework for the Certified Financial Planner program. 

Disclaimer: In order to make Wealthtender free for our readers, we earn money from advertisers including financial professionals and firms that pay to be featured on our platform. This creates a natural conflict of interest when we favor promotion of our clients over other professionals and firms not featured on Wealthtender. Learn how we operate with integrity to earn your trust.

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