Below is the February edition of the Fintech Report Card, a monthly piece by Riskalyze CEO Aaron Klein originally published in WealthManagement.com.
Welcome to the February edition of the Riskalyze Fintech Review, where Riskalyze CEO Aaron Klein gives you the thumbs up or thumbs down on the biggest pieces of news to hit advisor technology in the last month. Failing to read this piece may be the riskiest move of all!
LikeFolio Brings Social Media into the #MarketResearch Space 👍
What happened: LikeFolio just announced a plan to license its Brand Mapping Database, which seeks to measure brand perception based on social media mentions, to research firms. Pulling from Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and LexisNexis, the information gives advisors access to real-time public sentiment.
Why it matters: We have seen the impact consumer sentiment plays when it comes to overall brand perception, its financial performance and stock price. Through aggregating the rise of negative, or positive, hashtags and likes, advisors will have one more piece of market research in their arsenal. (Disclosure: the reason we know so much about this story is that LikeFolio’s founder is also a member of Riskalyze’s board.)
eMoney Debuts Their Optimized Marketing Tools in Another Reality 👍
What happened: Attendees at the Technology Tools for Today conference in Garden Grove, Calif., traded in their reality for a virtual one when demoing eMoney's upcoming Advisor Branded Marketing (ABM) tool. Optimized for Oculus and other virtual reality devices, this virtual tour guided participants through the benefits of the new eMoney dashboard.
Why it matters: As more programs are rolled out in the fintech space, companies have to find a way to connect with their audiences. Virtual reality presents a fun way to fully immerse people in the experience, while also demonstrating a commitment to innovation (not to mention, an out-of-the-box approach to getting trade show attendees to their booth).
TD Ameritrade Institutional Makes Big Data Accessible to RIA Clients 👍
What happened: At their annual conference, TD Ameritrade Institutional announced its plan to add new data tools into their Veo One platform later this year. These analytics will help advisors drill down into their client and business operation data in order to identify areas of weakness or opportunities for growth.
Why it matters: Access to data is changing the way we do business. As more companies offer accessible platforms to gain insights from it, financial advisors can make decisions based on personalized analytics.
Orion Advisor Services Introduces Their New Trading and Rebalancing Platform 👍
What happened: Orion Advisor Services just rolled out Eclipse, their new trading and rebalancing platform. In addition to providing advisors with the tools to trade and rebalance portfolios based on their personalized needs, Eclipse also features cash management, FIX integration and trading dashboards to further empower advisors.
Why it matters: This new platform marks a time of rapid growth for Orion. With these new features, advisors using Orion can streamline their processes and improve their trade efficiency. In the end, it all adds up to better service for clients. Congratulations to our friends at Orion on their big release!
Betterment Nabs Google Exec for Board of Advisors 👎
What happened: Betterment announced its plan to add John Casey, Google's director of global benefits, to the Betterment for Business advisory board. As a reminder, Betterment for Business is the arm of the company that provides automated 401(k) service for businesses. Casey joined Google in 2010, and was behind the company's 401K, deferred compensation plans and financial benefits strategies.
Why it matters: It seems unlikely that Betterment will end up running Google’s 401(k), but it’s still a nice PR coup for the robo advice firm. But this doesn’t change the fundamentally flawed business model that Betterment is struggling with. From a self-directed business that can’t profitably grow, to an institutional business hobbled by a brand trying to put advisors out of business, to a 401(k) business that tries to replace every other part of the defined contribution ecosystem, Betterment has deeper problems than names on an advisory board.
Asia and the U.S. Are Neck and Neck in Fintech
What happened: In 2016, venture capital investments in fintech startups in Asia reached $5.4 billion, compared to the $5.5 billion invested in the United States. A majority of these deals—nine of the top 10—were based in Mainland China.
Why it matters: China may soon lead the pack in the fintech space—just look at the billions raised for Lufax, an online lender, and JD finance, an affiliate of JD.com. Early reports say that Chinese state-owned companies and private enterprises have developed a $1.44 billion investment fund for future fintech mergers and acquisitions. This means we're going to have our work cut out for us if the United States wants to stay ahead in this thriving industry.
Riskalyze Makes Four Announcements at the T3 Advisor Conference 👍
What happened: In a continuing effort to revolutionize client engagement, account automation and portfolio construction, Riskalyze announced its newest products and services at the Technology Tools for Today (T3) conference: Riskalyze Premier, a premium tier of its classic client engagement systems; the Next Generation Autopilot Platform, an automated account platform; the Autopilot Partner Store, a marketplace for models, strategies and research; and Risk Number Models, a series of model strategies from asset management partners.
Why it matters: Hopefully it’s obvious, but Riskalyze is my company. We’ve studied our customer base and 26 percent of them work with managed account platforms like our partners at SEI, AssetMark, CLS, Envestnet and many others. The other 74 percent are the do-it-yourselfers and we believe the automated account platform is the future of how they’ll combine the personalization and control they want with the automation they need to thrive.
Robo-Advisor Now Speaks Two Languages, Understands Human Emotions in None 👎
What happened: In launching their first mobile robo advisor platform, Finhabits announced they would add a Spanish language option for users. The Finhabits automated services recommends index fund portfolios from BlackRock and Vanguard to users and sends reminders to keep users on track.
Why it matters: Although breaking language and cultural barriers should be applauded—especially in the financial world—the truth is that robo advisors still can’t speak “human.” The day that a robo advisor can sense from your tone of voice that you’re worried about college costs and ask “¿Qué tal tu familia?” will be the day that self-directed robos might be able to start laying claim to the “advisor” label.
Aaron Klein is the CEO of Riskalyze.
For more great content, visit WealthManagement.com.