In|Vest Insights

A weekly wrap-up of investing, savings and advice news.


June 10, 2016


E*Trade Enters the Robo SpaceCitibank Singapore’s ‘Not Quite Robo’ InnovationIn|Vest Update: The NYC Event Keeps Growing. Here’s What’s New!


June 3, 2016


Blooom Boasts It’s the Fastest Growing Robo Robos Will Manage 10 Percent By 2020 MBA Students and Summer Interns—How Does “Free” Sound?


May 26, 2016


Analytics for Advisers A $75 Million Boost for Personal Capital In|Vest Update: FutureAdvisor, SigFig, Morgan Stanley + More Join In|Vest Program


May 20, 2016


UBS Invests in SigFig, Hear More at In|Vest E*Trade’s ReInvention In|Vest Update: Schwab Talks Tech and the Future of Wealth Management


May 13, 2016


Krawcheck's Robo Finally Goes Live All Watson, All the TimeIn|Vest Update: ForwardLane CEO to Keynote In|Vest


May 6, 2016


Predictive Advising? CFA FinTech Report TakeawaysIn|Vest Update: Next Generation Tech that will Completely Change Wealth Management


April 29, 2016


The $30 Trillion Wealth Transfer to Millennials Making the Digital TransformationIn|Vest Update: Fiserv, Quovo and Advizr Team Up for Advisor Panel


April 22, 2016


Robos Act Human When Things Get Volatile Advisor Tech on the RiseIn|Vest Update: New Insights - What Investors Really Want from Robos


April 15, 2016


Robos Leap into Insurance BlackRock's Big Growth In|Vest Update: Gerri Willis to Moderate VC Panel


April 8, 2016


Fiduciary Rule Gives Digital Innovation a Big Win Millennials Get Some Wealth Management LoveThe UK Gets a New RoboIn|Vest Update: Check Out the Digital Brochure


April 1, 2016


Betterment Gets $100M BetterWealthfront 3.0In|Vest Update: ROBOT-LED Panel Kicks off In|Vest 2016


March 24, 2016


A Second Wind for Independent Robos?Ladenberg Thalmann Jumps on the RobowagonIn|Vest Update: In|Vest Update: NEW “Partners & Strategy” Content Added


March 18, 2016


Online Advising Platforms Get A Boost in the UKHow Well Do Advisors Know Their Tech?In|Vest Update: Stash CEO Joins In|Vest 2016 Program


March 11, 2016


Salesforce Unveils its Custom Advisor PlatformKrawcheck’s Robo for WomenIn|Vest Update: Dough, Inc. President and CEO to Speak


March 4, 2016


LPL to Launch Online PlatformFacts Vs. Perception in the Digital SpaceIn|Vest Update: The Coming Age of Digital Advice


February 26, 2016


Financial Innovators Make Fast Company's ListDigital Platforms Have Plenty of Fight LeftIn|Vest Update: Preliminary In|Vest Agenda Online


February 19, 2016


Creating the “Bionic Advisor”Will “Robos” Fail This Test?Schwab’s SVP of Advisor Solutions + More to Speak


February 12, 2016


New Platform Targets Women InvestorsA Digital $500B Advisor Market? Wow! Morningstar Join In|Vest Line-Up


February 5, 2016


RBC Joins the Digital MovementThe Wealthy Show Some Love to the Robos Narrative Science Co-Founder Joins the In|Vest Program


January 29, 2016


Advisors + Fintech = Winning!401(K)s on the Rise DriveWealth CEO + More to Speak at In|Vest


January 22, 2016


2016's Outlook for Digital AdviceBMO Launches Digital Advisor Service Preliminary Line-up for In|Vest 2016 Announced


January 15, 2016


Deals of the WeekFinancial Advice Using Snapchat?Schwab’s Intelligent Portfolio Leader Joins In|Vest 2016


E*Trade Enters the Robo Space


The question these days is who doesn’t have a robo? This week E*Trade announced it would join the robo fray, offering its brokerage customers a platform that competes with Charles Schwab, Betterment and Wealthfront.  But what makes E*Trade's platform different?  Rather than relying solely on index funds, or pre-determined investing formulas, E*Trade is taking a more hands on approach.

The service includes a nine-member team, charged with tweaking portfolios based on market conditions, making the aptly named "Adaptive Portfolio" a true hybrid approach.

With E*Trade’s turn-around in recent years, there's a lot of promise for this latest launch in the digital investing space. For more details on E-Trade's Adaptive Portfolio, check out this article from Financial Planning.  

You can also hear about E*Trade's approach to mobile design at In|Vest. Check out that session here.



Citibank Singapore's 'Not Quite Robo' Innovation


Outside the U.S., digital banking initiatives are heating up more than ever.   This week, Citibank Singapore launched its Total Wealth Advisor. 

The service, which maps client goals to portfolios based on risk tolerance, resource availability and time horizon, is designed to empower clients to make  better investing choices to acheive financial goals through different stages of their lives. 

To be clear though, the bank's leadership told news outlet finews.asia this isn't robo advising.  Although the specific details of the service were limited, it sounds like they are dipping their toe into the hybrid model approach that have advanced the investing world in the US and other markets.  So what do we know?  Here's what the Citibank Singapore CEO had to say:

'Our mobile and digital strategy is built around our customers' evolving preferences, ensuring that we bring them a banking experience that meets and exceeds their expectations across all our digital touch points – phone, mobile and online banking."

Citi has said before that robos will never replace their traditional investment managers, but there certainly is a role tech plays today in enhancing their services, and Citi Singapore seems to be heading down that road.  You can check out the announcement from finews.asia here.



In|Vest Update: The NYC Event Keeps Growing. Here's What's New!


In|Vest 2016 is less than a week away, and there have been a lot of event developments over the last week.  With all of the new ideas and excitement in the industry, we had to make sure attendees get a full picture of what’s going today when it comes to investing, saving and advice.

 So what's new?  Here are a few of the new industry leaders we've added to the event program:

  • Jack Sharry, Principal and EVP of Strategic Development, LifeYield

  • Richard Steinmeier, Head of Emerging Affluent and the Wealth Advice Center, UBS Wealth Management – Americas
  • Roger Alt, VP, Head of Digital Channels, AssetMark
  • Mike Everett, VP of Business Development, MyVest

  • Charles Smith, Executive Director, Advisory Services, EY

  • Eric Lordi, Managing Director, Morgan Stanley

Want to see it all? 
Check out the full program here, or better yet, sign up to attend.  Limited seats remain, so register here to secure your seat at In|Vest 2016.



Blooom Boasts It’s the Fastest Growing Robo


Blooom, the robo advisor that focuses on managing 401(k)s, said this week that it now manages more than $300 million in assets, and has more than doubled the size of its business in 2016. That comes out to about 3,300 accounts, according to a story in Business Insider.

The company has also added the expertise of former FDIC Chair Sheila Bair to its board. The position is the latest in Bair’s collection of fintech roles; she’s also on the board of marketplace lender Avant; bitcoin player itBit USA. (Her other roles include Thomson Reuters and Host Hotels & Resorts.)

But back to blooom. Wondering how the company has done it? One strategy involved giving away free burritos at Chipotle. The other is going direct to employers. Greg Smith, blooom’s president, will share his vision for the company, and the retirement industry, during the opening CEO|Spot sessions at In|Vest on June 16.

Read more here.


Robos Will Manage 10 Percent By 2020


Business Insider’s research arm has come out with head-turning figures about the robo, or automated investment, market. Among them? Robos could collect up to $8 trillion –or 10 percent—of global assets by 2020. And this isn’t just a millennial thing—some 49 percent of wealthy consumers surveyed said they’d consider investing some assets with a robo advisor. Here’s the link to article, but you’ll have to pony up $495 if you want all the details.

Scorpio Partnership, Deloitte, AT Kearney, Capco, EMI Strategic Marketing, eSign Live and Vanare and more will offer their insights and research into the future of wealth at In|Vest --we're sure you can get more stats than you'll ever need at the event.


MBA Students and Summer Interns—How Does “Free” Sound?


In|Vest is offering a limited number of complimentary registrations to MBA students and other interns interested in wealth management and fintech. Why? We’re trying to spice up our opening workshop, the Idea Hackathon, with some young blood and new ideas. These millennials will be charged with challenging the thinking of the industry’s old guard. Got interns? Bring them with you. We have a few requirements in exchange for the pass, but it is sure to be a great networking and educational opportunity for the young blood on your team. Limited supply, email today.


Analytics for Advisers


Envestnet's been busy in the acquisition department over the last few years, growing their services with online platform Upside, Finance Logix and Tamarac. Now, with last year’s acquisition of Yodlee, Envestnet is bringing the power of data and analytics to advisers.

Advisers now benefit from Yodlee's data analytics and aggregation platform with a paperless on-boarding process and the ability to access a client's financial overview in real time. In addition, they will now have access to predictive analytic capability that has transformed customer service in banking, insurance and healthcare. An adviser could now contact a client in advance of a financial issue by looking at spending patterns or cash flow.

It’s an upsell for advisers, who will have to pay extra for the service. So will they take advantage of Yodlee? According to a company study, they should! One big take away they found--advisers who use advanced data and analytics have twice the average share of a client's wallet than those who don't.

Want more insights on Envestnet's rollout of Yodlee? You can hear the firm’s president, Bill Crager discuss the value of advice in the robo world at In|Vest 2016. Click here for details about this session.

For more details about the announcement from Envestnet, click here for the article from Financial Planning.


A $75 Million Boost for Personal Capital


Ignoring the gloomy headlines that funding is drying up for wealth management platforms, Personal Capital announced its new $75 Million boost.

Canadian conglomerate IMG Financial came in as the sole investor, although there was some interest in previous investors. As their first fintech investment, the firms sees it as an opportunity to join the digital movement in the US wealth management industry.

The timing of the investment couldn't be better, as the industry sees the larger financial firms acquire or build their own digital platforms, including Vanguard's Personal Advisor Services, a stiff competitor for Personal Capital.

So what lies in the future for Personal Capital? Founder and CEO Bill Harris will discuss the firm's evolution in his session at the In|Vest 2016 event. You can click here for more details.

Click here for the full story on the latest funding news from Financial Planning.


In|Vest Update: FutureAdvisor, SigFig, Morgan Stanley + More Join In|Vest Program


In case you missed the announcement earlier this week, a host of new firms joined the In|Vest 2016 program. Among them, are executives from FutureAdvisor, SigFig, Morgan Stanley and Pershing (to name a few).

From Pershing, you’ll hear from CIO Ram Nagappan. The firm is building its advisor tech strategy on an "intelligent open architecture" -- so far offering advisors access to platforms from SigFig, Vanare, Jemstep and Marstone.

From FutureAdvisor, we welcome back their founder, Bo Lu. Now owned by BlackRock, FutureAdvisor is on fire these days, announcing deals to power wealth offerings for LPL, RBC Wealth Management and BBVA. Hear Lu's perspective on how things have changed in the last year, and where they're going.

These are just a few of the new additions to the program. Click here for more details on the agenda, and if you’re planning on attending, sign up soon! Limited seats remain as In|Vest 2016 quickly approaches.


UBS Invests in SigFig, Hear More at In|Vest


UBS teams up with digital advice platform SigFig, giving the firm's 7,000+ advisors robo technology access for their mass affluent and HNW clients.

It's certainly not the first major partnership this year, but the volume of the deal shakes up the industry­-the UBS wirehouse has up to $1 trillion in AUM.

For UBS, it's not just about giving the wealthy access to digital advice technology. The firm has made an equity investment in the start-up, creating their Advisor Technology and Innovation Lab, with a goal of developing new tech that will prove valuable in the future. As Mike Sha, SigFig's CEO & co-founder puts it, "…we live in an age where we are deploying new features and new technology constantly…".

And though UBS is investing in SigFig, the company will maintain its many other white-label clients. Want to hear more? Good news—after this announcement was made, we convinced Mike Sha to present his strategy in a session at In|Vest. He may even be bringing one of his partners along.

Financial Planning gives more details about the partnership, and what’s to come. You can click here for the article.


E*Trade's ReInvention


E*Trade has come a long way since its near demise during the financial crisis. The fintech founding father has seen a big turnaround of late, crediting both tech,and human-to-human hand holding for its comeback.

Gone are the days of that cute, but witty E*Trade baby, as the firm now markets itself as a wiser advisor in today's more cautious investing climate. The firm's stock price has tripled in recent years and its new strategy seems to be the hybrid approach we've seen many of wealth management's digital innovators take over the past year.

'People want to engage [digitally] with media, with their friends, with their finances. But they also want you to be there when they need you," says CEO Paul Idzek.

So what’s next for E*Trade? This summer, the firm is launching its own robo, the Adaptive Portfolio platform, which combines powerful investing tech with guidance from human advisors. With E*Trade already pre-loaded on the Apple Watch, and more than 30% account logins coming from mobile devices, the company is eager to compete with the tech innovators that have disrupted the industry in recent years.

There's a lot more to this turnaround story, and you can click here to get the details from Fortune. E*Trade exec. Kunal Vaed, SVP of digital channels, will offer more at In|Vest. Check out his session here.


In|Vest Update: Schwab Talks Tech and the Future of Wealth Management


We announced Schwab as a keynote speaker on the In|Vest 2016 program a few months back. Today, we're excited to give some more details on what Neesha Hathi, Schwab's EVP of Investor Services Platforms, Strategy and Client Experience, will share.

Technology and digital innovation continually evolve the wealth management industry – enabling firms to drive scale and efficiency, lower costs, and improve client experience. Recently, automated investing and advice services have played a key role in this evolution, disrupting the way firms think about serving clients throughout the value chain and reshaping what clients want and expect from financial services firms.

Hathi will explore how technology advancements, including automated investing tools, are pushing the industry forward and how the future of investment advice will be a more integrated experience of technology and people.

It's a discussion not to be missed at In|Vest 2016, and you can get more details here.


Krawcheck’s Robo Finally Goes Live


It's been a long time coming, but Ellevest, Sallie Krawcheck's women-centric digital investment platform, was unveiled to the public this week. What makes a platform for women different? Krawcheck believes a women's longer life expectancies, lower lifetime earnings, and tendency to play it safe when it comes to investing make their product and platform needs different from male investors.

You'll notice that visually, Ellevest has the look of a trendy retailer rather than your usual financial services site. The language also speaks to its target segment of women investors, skipping the common lingo of "winning" and "beating the market".

"[Wall Street is] full of sports and war analogies. Beating the market. Outperforming. Picking a winner," says Krawcheck. "No woman looks at [investing] and is like, ‘Wow, that really speaks to me.'"

For more information about the launch, click here for an overview from Fortune, or, go ahead and get your Ellevest preview here.

Ellevest isn't the only platform on the market targeting women investors. Check out this panel at In|Vest 2016, featuring executives from Gold Bean, My Money My Future, Meritam Investment Advisors, and wealth management’s own superstar April Rudin.


All Watson, All the Time


Remember when IBM's Watson proved itself smarter and quicker than Jeopardy contestants? Those massive natural language and data processing chops are now being applied to wealth management. You’ll be hearing a lot about this at In|Vest.

Marstone, another digital platform released this week, will be utilizing the Watson technology on Pershing's custodial platform. It's designed to assist advisors during client meetings, helping to provide financial projections and suggestions in real time based on the client’s background.

Financial Planning covered the story this week, and here’s our favorite analogy they provided -

"In practice, such cognitive computing power would work with an adviser just like a helpful Star Wars droid: virtually present during a meeting with a client…"

Imagine R2-D2 or BB-8 along your advisors side at a meeting? Ok, we know this isn't what they had in mind, but it does give you a good idea of what Marstone is going for here with Watson's capabilities.

You can click here to get more details about the release. You can hear from IBM's global wealth management lead, Robert Stanich, directly during their Disrupt|Demo session at In|Vest.


In|Vest Update: ForwardLane CEO to Keynote at In|Vest 2016


In|Vest 2016 is excited to welcome Nathan Stevenson, Founder and CEO of ForwardLane, a little-known firm that's on the cusp of announcing some major wins in the wealth management market, to the In|Vest speaker lineup.

You've likely heard a lot about chatbots lately. ForwardLane offers something like that, and much more. We don't want to reveal too much, but in a week or so you can view the firm's Finovate Spring video here. Worth mentioning: ForwardLane is also working with IBM.

By way of background, Stevenson is an experienced entrepreneur with a background in quantitative finance and enterprise architecture. He began his career at CQS and BNP Paribas London, and later joined the Johannesburg Stock Exchange as an enterprise architect managing large scale, international technology projects with NYSE, CME and LSEG. Nathan hails from South Africa, and has previously co-founded two other companies (Matchpoint Music and HotelsByDay).

We'll have more details on Stevenson's talk in the coming days. In the meantime, you can check out the updated In|Vest 2016 speaking faculty here.

P.S.- If you're following the In|Vest agenda closely, you may notice that Stevenson is taking the speaking slot once occupied by Tim Tate, head of digital for Citi Private Bank. Tim’s no longer with Citi, and his 'garden leave' prevents him from speaking at In|Vest. We look forward to telling you about his exciting new role in the industry soon.


Predictive Advising?


The digital advice world just found a new niche. As automated platforms seek to differentiate themselves in a competitive market, one firm’s value prop. is its ability to anticipate client behavior.

Northfield Information Services Wealthbalancer tool determines how much risk a client can take and combines that with their preferences.
"One of the things we consider in our questionnaires is how tied your career is to the well-being of financial markets," Dan diBartolomeo, president of Northfield Information Services says. It's a service level we haven’t really seen from other platforms.

Let's face it, investing and saving isn't just about the markets. We all have certain realities we have to face, whether it's illness, divorce, or any other challenge life throws at us. So can Wealthbalancer take these issues into account when advising clients? You can get more details from Financial Planning here.

If you like what you read, the article's author, Suleman Din, will also be moderating a panel on the new "Role of Robos" with such superstars as Betterment's Jon Stein and Motif's Hardeep Walia. You can read more here.


CFA FinTech Report Takeaways


FinTech is gaining more attention from consumers, not just in the states, but across the globe. The increasing popularity has gained the attention of regulatory bodies, particularly in the EU, responsible for shaping policy to protect consumer safety.

In response, the CFA Institute released a report based on member feedback to help inform any policy decisions. Here are some highlights of the takeaways:

  • 70% of respondents think mass affluent investors will be positively affected by automated financial advice tools
  • Respondents from EU countries are more likely (73% vs 60%) to think that automated financial advice tools can provide positive impact on access to advice compared with those from non-EU countries.
  • 46% of respondents note that flaws in automated financial advice algorithms could be the biggest risk introduced from automated financial advice tools, followed by miss-selling (30%) and privacy and data protection concerns (12%)

You can download the full report here. And speaking of consumer interest, did anyone catch the 60 Minutes coverage on FinTech shaking up financial services? If not, you can check it out here.

There are bound to be more developments in the EU FinTech market in the coming months. To stay informed, and position your firm for success, don’t miss In|Vest Europe, taking place November 15, 2016 in London. Registration will open in the coming weeks. You can click here to be notified when more details are available.


In|Vest Update: Next Generation Tech that will Completely Change Wealth Management


Last year's In|Vest event featured the latest online platforms that were changing wealth management. But now that robo advisors are adopted by the largest of firms, the relevant question is, "what comes next?"

Join the industry at In|Vest 2016 as Vanare’s COO Alexey (Lex) Sokolin leads a talk on the latest developments in the blockchain, digital currency, wearable technology, image recognition, semantic analysis, crowdsourced asset management and more.

This lunch session (yes, we’ll feed you too!) will discuss practical applications of using such technology to improve the wealth management industry, and deepen client relationships and outcomes.

You can learn more about this session at In|Vest here.


The $30 Trillion Wealth Transfer to Millennials


Here's a fresh idea for reaching millennial investors. HighTower Treasury Partners is pairing millennial investors with millennial advisors. It's their approach to facing the massive wealth transfer the cohort is about to inherit from baby boomer investors.

The program, titled Backpacks to Briefcase, aims at training and hiring millennial advisors to target their counterpart investors. The idea is that their peers are better equipped to communicate and relate to newer investors than senior advisors. You can catch more information from this video from the Wall Street Journal's Lunch Break with Tanya Rivero.

So this is one approach, but how will other wealth managers position themselves for the biggest wealth transfer in history? We’re covering this topic in the Millennials Track at the In|Vest 2016 event. You can learn more about the track here.


Making the Digital Transformation


The wealth management industry is going digital at a rapid pace, and many firms have hit a few speed bumps along the way. So what's the best way to make the transition without harming the business, or its advisors?

Financial Planning sat down with A.T. Kearney's Uday Singh to chat about the big shift, the challenges firms face, and what the future holds.

Singh shared a few pieces of advice on how to make the pivot to digital. But the one the stuck out focused on the "magic" in the advisor client relationship, and that despite the opportunity digital provides, there is still a lot of value in the traditional model. For most firms, the advisor is too important to their high net worth client base. So when it comes to offering a digital solution to investors, the human advisor has to be a part of that solution. Overall, it's what we’re seeing in the industry today with the hybrid approach.

Singh offers several other insights when it comes to the future of digital advice platforms. You can read more here.


Fiserv, Quovo and Advizr Team Up for Advisor Panel


Speaking of the client-advisor relationship, we're excited to feature this panel presented by three industry leaders on how this dynamic is evolving rapidly in today’s digital and regulatory environment -- and what this relationship will look like in the future.

Gone are the days of client-advisor interactions that are primarily transactional. Instead, client expectations and regulation like the DOL's fiduciary rule demand a holistic advisory relationship, centered on the client's best interests and powered by digital tools and data analytics.

You can click here to learn more about this session, and meet the panelists.


Robos Act Human When Things Get Volatile


Some markets are back to their highs, but the volatility of the last year has many online platforms closely watching customer behavior, and planning their responses should a bear market emerge, according to a Bloomberg Markets article published this week.

Some of the findings? During a big drop last August, Betterment and Wealthfront both saw big spikes in client logins, but only about one percent of Wealthfront customers changed their risk profiles.

Betterment tested proactively emailing clients when markets were choppy, but found that strategy didn’t work. Instead, it’s serving popups during logins. An automated feature that teaches them about risk scores and market timing might be all it takes to calm nerves of some investors in times of a downturn.

Overall, it sounds like the online market is using analytics to find the best ways to serve customers in bull or bear markets. They clearly passed the test in January - Wealthfront says it added three times as many clients in January 2016 as in the year earlier month.


Advisor Tech on the Rise


The wealth management industry has its eyes on the growing RIA segment. Broker-dealers and other manufacturers are fighting to get their products into the portfolios of independent advisors as the distribution models get an industry shake-up.

The big firms are now after the technology advisors use to run their practice - from marketing, portfolio software to planning tools. Schwab made an attempt with their OnView Integrated office, but the subsidized bundled offerings weren’t financially sound for the firm.

Now, others are in the game. Salesforce (Schwab’s initial partner) launched its own Financial Services Cloud for advisors this year. Fidelity's Total Advisor Platform is set to be an all-in-one system for advisory firms. Envestnet is in the market after its acquisition of Tamarac, Finance Logix, Upside and Yodlee. And Morningstar also has their advisor desktop in the works.

With a crowded market and stiff competition, it looks like independent advisors could be in the best position as new innovation and tools are set to transform the way they operate their firms. For a more detailed play by play of the advisor tech market, check out this blog post on Financial Planning.


In|Vest Update: New Insights - What Investors Really Want from Robos


Headlines of robo-advisors and disruptive automation abound. From traditional market leaders to startups, resources are chasing the pot of gold at the end of the robo rainbow. But what do investors really want?

EMI Strategic Marketing and Boston Research Technologies will help In|Vest 2016 attendees answer these questions reveal findings from a national investor survey. Findings include:

  • Which segments are most likely to embrace digital advice?
  • Why do some investors reject robos and what might change their minds?
  • What digital capabilities are most valued by millennials, HNW, 401k participants?
  • When and how do investors want technology and human advisors to work together?
  • How do investors evaluate robo platforms?

You won't want to miss this discussion at In|Vest 2016, or the summary of finding you can take back to your firm.


Robos Leap into Insurance


This week, the insurance industry adopted the advisor + tech hybrid model when EchoSage launched as the first online platform for independent insurance agencies.

The EchoSage platform performs several functions, but its impressive learning tools and hosted guided conversations for consumers are what could up the game for agents. The service collects the professional knowledge of agency leaders and turns it into digital conversations with the client - on any advice, at any time, including automated policy renewal reviews.

EchoSage also aids in succession planning by capturing the knowledge and experience of agents ready to retire, helping the firm to retain the business intelligence.

It's a natural leap for the digital movement, as other online platforms have already started blending the services between the financial and insurance industries. You can read more about the announcement here.


BlackRock's Big Growth


In January, BlackRock became the latest incumbent firm to offer robo services when it partnered with FutureAdvisor, and quickly added the likes of BBVA, RBC and Saxo Bank to their client list.

This week their list grew by the likes of 13,000+ advisors when LPL Financial announced that it would use BlackRock’s FutureAdvisor solution. The platform will be accessible online and integrated with LPL's custodial platform. Word is still to come on account minimums or investment fees.

"We are excited to collaborate with FutureAdvisor to accelerate the development of our robo advice solution, which we believe will enable our advisors and institutions to serve a variety of clients with independent, objective financial advice in a convenient and scalable manner," said Ryan Parker, managing director of investment and planning solutions for LPL, in a statement.

Is this another FinTech dream team in the making? We'll be paying close attention when LPL launches the service, but in the meantime, you can read more about the announcement here.


In|Vest Update: Gerri Willis to Moderate VC Panel


Gerri Willis, anchor and personal finance reporter for Fox Business Network has joined the In|Vest 2016 program to moderate the event's venture capital panel.

An award-winning reporter, Willis also served as the personal finance editor for CNN Business News and hosted the weekly half-hour program entitled "Your Bottom Line," which focused on ways to save Americans money and the economy’s effects on personal finance.

Willis will lead a panel that will discuss what’s going on, and what’s to come, when it comes to fintech wealth investments, both in the U.S. and abroad.

There's more than one celebrity on this panel. Steve McLaughlin of FT Partners was just named the 2nd most popular banker in Silicon Valley. Here’s the announcement.

Check out more details on this star-studded panel on the agenda.


Fiduciary Rule Gives Digital Innovation a Big Win


Executives at online platforms cheered heartily this week as the long awaited final fiduciary rule was announced. The rule, while providing better protection for clients receiving financial advice, also expands the definition of financial advice, opening the doors for online platforms to be fiduciaries.

The rule is also likely to spur greater innovation and expansion platforms as more robo advisors add a human component to their services.

"I predict that it will take an upward of three years for any traditional financial institution, or robo advisor, to change their business models enough to be able to truly know their customers and put consumers first," says Personal Capital CEO Bill Harris. Harris, who will be featured at the In|Vest 2016 event, says the rule will prompt providers to adopt the hybrid robo model that his firm already offers.

Financial Planning covered more reactions to the rule here, including Rob Foregger, co-founder of Next Capital and Betterment CEO Jon Stein.

You can get more reactions from across the wealth management here.


Millennials Get Some Wealth Management Love


We know that the millennial market is a tough segment when it comes to just about everything. Companies have adjusted their marketing, hiring and selling practices to hit the unique needs of this cohort.

And of course this rings true for wealth management as well. But have you noticed the coverage online platforms have received in the media over the past year? A few years ago, few had heard of “robo advisors” if you were outside the WM industry.

Check out 3 Reasons Millennials Should Consider a Robo-Advisor covered by U.S. News. While the information isn’t new to most of us, the fact that we’re seeing the coverage on more main-stream media could be a sign that the “robo” movement will see some more traction in the coming year.

In|Vest 2016 is showing some love to millennials too, well, at least the firms that are targeting this segment. If you haven’t already viewed the online agenda, check out our Millennials Track of sessions we’ll cover in NYC.

The UK Gets a New Robo


Nutmeg just got some competition. Founded in 2011, the online platform is a stronghold in the UK investing space.

This week, Business Insider noted that Germany’s Scalable Capital, a fintech startup launched by a group of four former Goldman Sachs employees, is set to launch in the UK. Online platforms are hot now in the UK, and with the recent approval from their Financial Conduct Authority, we’re likely to see a boost in the industry across the pond.

You can read more about the announcement here.

Stay tuned for In|Vest Europe - The excitement in the wealth management industry is also why we’re launching the In|Vest Europe event, taking place November 15 in London. Click here if you wish to be notified when agenda and more details about the event are ready.


In|Vest Update: Check Out the Digital Brochure


In case you missed it in your inbox this week, don’t forget to download your copy of the In|Vest 2016 Digital Brochure.

The brochure is your guide to the 2016 event, and includes some of the rave review last year’s event received, the updated agenda, and current speaker line-up. You might notice a few “To Be Announced” sessions and speakers, but we’ll be filling these up in the coming weeks,
stay tuned!

You can download your copy here.


Betterment Gets $100M Better

This week’s big news comes from Betterment as the firm secured $100 Million in capital funding.

The funding puts Betterment in a good position to compete against wealth management’s large incumbent firms. I’m sure you’ll hear more when he speaks on a keynote panel at In|Vest, but CEO Jon Stein noted this week that the new round wasn’t about the company burning through cash, but will go toward new features and products (including its financial account aggregation tool).

Could this signal a VC boost to the other independent platforms? The reviews are mixed. Fintech funding is hot (reported at $13.8 Billion last year), and the recent DoL fiduciary ruling may give digital platforms some major support. However, a recent CEO survey by research firm Tiburon Strategic Partners also reports that growth to advisor platforms is likely to show little growth.

We’re excited to see what this funding brings to Betterment's services, but in the meantime, you can read more about the announcement here, along with some discussion on what the VC outlook for other firms in the industry.


Wealthfront 3.0


Betterment’s west coast rival had its own announcement this week. The firm is enhancing its platform to offer the customer a holistic view of their financial health.

Wealthfront is partnering with services popular in the millennial cohort, including Venmo, Redfin, Lending Club and Coinbase to allow investors to see a full picture of their finances. Wealthfront can also use this information to give their customers even more tailored financial advice. Users will experience a more detailed dashboard that includes net worth, future projections and up-to-date financial advice. "

TechCrunch made the announcement this week here, but the Wealthfront 3.0 gives more details on the updated service on the company blog.


In|Vest Update: ROBOT-LED Panel Kicks off In|Vest 2016


Robots are taking over all aspects of our lives, and now they’re taking over In|Vest 2016.

Come hear a panel lead by six leading robots titled “ROBOTS DO EVERYTHING BETTER!” You’ll be blown away as these interactive machines discuss why humans need to let robots lead more aspects of their lives (not just investing, saving and financial advice).

And yes, there’ll even be a live Q&A at the end. You’ll walk away humbled, shocked, and even a little frightened by what the future holds when robots take over!


A Second Wind for Independent Robos?


High marketing costs and the launch of automated investment platforms by incumbents like Vanguard and Schwab seemed to spell trouble for robos with a direct-to-consumer strategy like Wealthfront, Betterment and others. But the regulatory burdens that are likely to come with the Department of Labor’s impending fiduciary rule could cause major players to shed lower value accounts, pushing those investors straight into the arms of the robos.

"This could be a second wind for those robo advisors," Morningstar equity analyst Michael Wong told Financial Planning. "We estimate that $250 billion to $600 billion of low-account-balance IRA assets from clients will be let go by the full-service wealth management firms. If robos can capture even a fraction of that, they could accelerate by several years to the mark where they will be profitable."

Editor Suleman Din of Financial Planning covers the story in more detail here, including insights on what it takes to be compliant and how firms (and In|Vest speakers) like Betterment, FutureAdvisor and Personal Capital are positioned for success.


Ladenberg Thalmann Jumps on the Robowagon


Ladenberg Thalmann beat competitors like LPL and Commonwealth to market with its announcement this week about the launch of $ymbil, a robo for its 4,000 affiliated independent advisors. The self-service investment platform requires a $500 minimum investment and matches customers up with one of five portfolio models based on their risk tolerance.

Ladenburg isn’t offering a white-label option, yet, but the offering comes just in time for the anticipated April release of the DOL’s fiduciary rule, which may result in smaller-balance accounts being pushed toward robo platforms.

Want to check out $ymbil? Here’s the homepage, here’s a news story with more on $ymbil.


In|Vest Update: NEW “Partners & Strategy” Content Added


Speaking of big changes this year… In response to robust early registrations and excitement in the market, the In|Vest 2016 programming committee has expanded the conference agenda and added an additional track of sessions to this year’s event.

The news has been filled with stories of aggressive M&A, hybrid business models and expanded offerings; in response we’ve added “Partners & Strategy” as a track of five additional sessions that will hit at all of these topics we’re seeing in the market.

We’re still putting the finishing touches on the 2016 agenda, but confirmed to speak in the track so far are executives from BBVA Compass, FutureAdvisor, Aspiration, Radius Bank, Stash, SoFi Wealth and WorthFM.

You can check out the preliminary sessions in this track here, or take a look at the entire agenda here. Check back often as we’re making almost daily additions to the 2016 event!


Online Advising Platforms Get A Boost in the UK


It looks like the UK market for online advisory platforms is set for growth. Until recently, Nutmeg was the only real robo across the pond. But Business Insiders Fintech Briefing posted recently that the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is supporting the new platforms, listing three familiar reasons:

  • There is a gap in the advice market. Two-Thirds of those who purchased non-advised financial products later regretted the decision.

  • Firms focus on higher net-worth customers. Human advisors are expensive for firms, making it hard for those with fewer assets to get advice.

  • Technology can help. Firms now have the opportunity to reach new markets (millenials anyone?)

In addition to its support, the FCA also wants to build and “Advice Unit” to help firms with robo advisor models.

The In|Vest team is excited to see where this goes in the UK, especially since we’re bringing the event to London this November 15. There’s more to come on the London event, click here if you wish to be notified when the agenda is announced.

To read more about the FCA report from Business Insider, click here.


How Well Do Advisors Know Their Tech?


Back in the US, our own regulation authority, FINRA, released a report on digital investment advice. Financial Planning covered the release and the news is clear: brokers and advisors need to know the back end of the technology they’re using.

This year, we’re seeing an uptick in the number of advisors partnering with online platforms to enhance their practice. FINRA’s concern – if advisors are using a platform to model investments or assess risk, they need to understand the algorithms behind the advice – and not just take the technology at face value.

FINRA shared several recommendations and questions advisors need to ask when assessing technology. Here are a few:

  • Does the tool seek to obtain all of the required investment profile factors?
  • How does the tool handle conflicting responses to customer profile questions?
  • What are the criteria, assumptions and limitations for determining that a security or investment strategy is suitable for a customer?
  • Does the tool favor any particular securities and, if yes, what is the basis for such treatment?

You can get the full list of recommendations here, along with more details about the FINRA report.


Stash CEO Joins In|Vest 2016 Program


In|Vest 2016 is excited to welcome David Ronick, CEO & co-founder of Stash, and online platform that allows users to invest as little as $5 using fractional shares, and tools to help new investors learn along the way.

Ronick has an impressive background in the digital space, founding services such as BranchOut and FreshMedia (an outdoor ad company that helped musician Moby start his line of bottled teas).

Ronick joins a panel at In|Vest 2016 featuring online platforms that are going it alone in a time of aggressive acquisitions and partnerships by the leading firms. You can learn more about Ronick's background here, and check out our “Going It Alone” panel here.


Salesforce Unveils its Custom Advisor Platform


It’s been a long time coming, but Salesforce’s customized product for advisors was released out of beta this week, along with the word that it was developed with the help of more than 20 partners and 10 integrators. (Among them are several In|Vest speakers and sponsors: Yodlee, Deloitte, United Capital and Orion.)

Salesforce already holds the no. 2 spot in the advisor CRM market, and the CRM behemoth is betting that Salesforce Financial Services Cloud will help it to increase its position among RIAs and wirehouse advisors. Among other things, the tool promises to be a timesaver for advisors by allowing them to see all client data in one place. The service comes at a $150 per month/per user fee, whether it’s worth it for advisors to switch from one platform to another remains to be seen.

You can read more about the announcement here, which includes insights from Salesforce SVP and general manager, Simon Mulcahy and Financial Planning columnist Joel Bruckenstein.


Krawcheck’s Robo for Women


Sallie Krawcheck is a well-known name in the wealth management world, and in social media, where she’s never been afraid to voice her views. This week Financial Planning dug deep into Krawcheck’s plan to launch Ellevest, a digital advisor for women, and why we’re seeing a women-only movement in online investing.

The big take-away – women are not a niche market. Instead, they are the next market segment to get their own products. In this category you’ll find Gold Bean, WorthFM, My Money, My Future and Ellevate, all new platforms hoping to carve out market share in a market that’s made it clear that stand-alone platforms have a tough hill to climb when it comes to gathering assets.

Click here for more information about robos for women movement from Financial Planning. Click here to read our previous post about WorthFM.

You can meet the innovative founders of WorthFM, GoldBean and My Money, My Future at In|Vest, of course. We’ll cover the targeted markets by online platform in the Robo 2.0 session. Learn more about this session here . That session will be moderated by April Rudin, herself an outspoken voice in the wealth management world. View some of her 44,000 tweets by following @TheRudinGroup


In|Vest Update: Dough, Inc. President and CEO to Speak


Speaking of women that are leading innovations in wealth management, In|Vest 2016 welcomes Kristi Ross, Co-Ceo and President of dough Inc. to the speaking faculty.

dough is a next-generation, highly visual, investment software designed to make trading options simple and fun. Ross has an impressive background in wealth management and joins a panel on innovations in content, which has become the hallmark of many successful efforts to engage the millennial cohort in investing and saving.

You can read more about Ross’ background here, and click here to check out the Innovations in Content session at In|Vest.


LPL to Launch Online Platform


Last year, the nation’s largest independent broker-dealer, LPL Financial, announced plans to launch their own online investment platform. Bill Morrisey, the firm’s head of business development, announced this week that the service will launch in 2016.

LPL seems to be employing a similar strategy as other firms that have either acquired or launched their own “robo advisor”. The firm is using the new platform to enhance services LPL advisors offer. Thus, helping advisors attract next generation investors, including the much-sought-after millennial crowd. Sounds familiar, right?

Another upside? It’s a good recruiting tool for LPL. ThinkAdvisor noted that 43% of advisors today are over 55 and either looking to retire, or sell their practice. Adding a digital platform not only helps LPL partner with this group of advisors, but attract those looking for a firm that has the best resources and support.

For more details, check out the announcement from ThinkAdvisor here.


Facts Vs. Perception in the Digital Space


The last few years have seen major disruption in the wealth management space. First was the launch of independent digital investment platforms (often referred to as “robos"). Next was the adoption by the larger firms and broker-dealers.

But with these changes, there’s been a lot of news about how this impacts financial advisors, and what the future holds for investing.

Financial Planning gave us an easy-to-follow slide show this week that sums up where we are now. We thought the best take-aways were slides 10 and 11 which share three considerations when adding an online platform to your services, and a quote from Joe Duran, CEO of United Capital (and In|Vest 2016 speaker) on “robo investing vs. robo planning”.

You can check out the slide show here.


In|Vest Update: The Coming Age of Digital Advice


Speaking of investing vs. planning, the In|Vest 2016 event is excited to feature a research briefing on the Coming Age of Digital Advice.

Presented by In|Vest sponsor, A.T. Kearney, this panel will dive into the industry’s broader movement to digital advice, and why financial service providers need to be ready.

You won’t want to miss this discussion, as A.T. Kearney will share its just-completed consumer market research on the growing demand for digital advice, and the required blueprint for success.

Their research briefing last year received rave reviews (it was standing room only). We’ll have plenty of seats this year, but you can get a preview here.


Financial Innovators Make Fast Company's List


Fast Company recently announced their Most Innovative Companies of 2016 list. BuzzFeed nabbed the #1 spot for shaking up media across the globe. But what caught our attention were online platforms and financial innovators that made the cut.

Aspiration, #43 on Fast Company's list, calls itself an ‘investment firm with a conscience and is one of the fastest growing online platforms. What makes it stand out? The company donates 10% of its annual revenue to charity. But others in the industry have called them crazy for their "pay-as-you-wish" model that lets customers pay the Aspiration team whatever fee they deem fair.

For Aspiration, and their clients, it's working. More than 90% of their customers pay the firm to manage their accounts (as opposed to the $0 option).
Want to hear more about Aspiration? Their CEO, Andrei Cherny will be at In|Vest 2016 to talk about their “pay as you wish” model, and the firm’s partnership with Radius Bank.

You can check out Fast Company’s list here. You’ll also notice that a few other companies represented at In|Vest 2016 are on there, including Motif Investing and SoFi wealth. A big congratulations to these companies.

Click here to learn more about Andrei Cherny’s session at In|Vest.

Digital Platforms Have Plenty of Fight Left


Financial Planning spoke with WealthFront CEO Adam Nash this week about rumors that digital disruption in wealth management is fading.

With big firms like BlackRock, Vanguard, and Schwab all acquiring or launching their own online platforms, is there any room left for smaller firms, from start-ups to industry newcomers? Nash’s answer—ABSOLUTELY

"Young companies only have two advantages over incumbents: their pace of innovation and focus," Nash responds.

The larger firms eclipse the digital platforms in AUM (compare BlackRock’s $4.5 trillion in AUM to the $7.6 billion from the three largest platforms combined). But Nash notes that WealthFront and similar firms are focused on the future—new markets, new tech. and new generations of investors, while the larger firms remain focused on traditional investors.

How will the wealth management disruption play out? It’s too early to tell, but we’re still seeing some exciting innovations from new market players that stand out from the larger firms, which tell us Nash sentiments hold firm. There’s more fight left in the market!

We’re updating the agenda weekly with new topics, speakers and special events. In the meantime, click here to check out what’s in store for In|Vest 2016.

You can read more about this conversation from Financial Planning here.


In|Vest Update: Preliminary In|Vest Agenda Online


It’s ready! The preliminary In|Vest 2016 agenda is online. We’re bringing together 15+ CEOs and 50+ wealth management executive speakers to deliver more than 25 hands-on and timely sessions that cover what you need to know on innovations in investing, saving and advice.

Here are a few highlights:

  • Keynote from Schwab EVP, Neesha Hathi
  • The Coming Age of Digital Advice
  • The Evolution of Personal Capital
  • Retirement 2.0 – Reinventing the Retirement Industry
  • Conversational Commerce, Or Siri for Investing
  • Plus three tracks focused on Millenials, Advisor Tech, and Research

We’re updating the agenda weekly with new topics, speakers and special events. In the meantime, click here to check out what’s in store for In|Vest 2016.


Creating the “Bionic Advisor”


If 2015 was the year of online advising platforms, then 2016 is the year of the technology/advisor partnership—or the year of big data in wealth management.

“The most successful advisors of the future will crack the code to combining digital solutions with human capital to provide a more comprehensive offering to clients.”

That was the sentiments of Financial Planning contributor Mitchell H. Caplan, CEO of Jefferson National, and a theme we first started seeing at last year’s In|Vest event. The story when “robos” first made headlines was that they’d replace traditional advisors, when in fact, we began to see advisors embrace the new technology. Financial Planner and commentator Michael Kitces even described them as “Bionic Advisors” for those that embrace and understand technology in their practice.

Overall, the launch of online platforms seems to not have replaced advisors, but revealed the limited technology solutions they had to serve clients. Armed with “robo” technology, not only do advisors have better tools, but access to “big data” information to make better decisions for existing clients, and even some marketing power to attract new ones.

We wrote last week about the coming $500 Billion market for digital platforms used by advisors, and the M&A we’ve seen in wealth management over the past year. As more firms seek to empower advisors with more information, it looks like 2016 is the year of the tech/advisor partnership.

You can read more about the topic from Financial Planning here.

Will “Robos” Fail This Test?


The 2016 markets sure got off to a shaky start. According to OpenFolio data, more than 93% of investors lost money in January. Ouch! So this is bound to make investors (especially the newbies) nervous.

So the big question is, how will online platforms respond to this big test with customers, many of whom are the newbie investors?

FinaMetrica’s Paul Resnik told ThinkAdvisor that the “robos” may not do so hot, on account that many don’t properly assess a client’s risk tolerance. Resnik has a point, some platforms do go into more detail than others when it comes to risk assessment. But let’s be honest, there’s some bias here (FinaMetrica's main selling point is risk profiling.)

So how are online platforms responding when the markets are shaky? Most platforms have diversified portfolios, and are designed to rebalance them when markets shift. However, the biggest issue we’ve seen is the emotion that comes with investing, and calming a client’s nerves when there’s a downturn. After all, nobody wants to talk to a robot when it concerns their investments.

It seems many platforms are actually turning to human advisors when it comes to putting their clients at ease. For example, Charles Schwab, one of the largest, has received a 30% increase in customer calls. And Betterment has also been answering calls and emails from investors. In addition, it’s been the main topic of discussion on nearly all of the blogs powered by online platforms.

It’s another testament to the power of the tech/advisor partnership we’re seeing in 2016, and how during these times of big market swings, even big tech. needs a human touch.

You can check out ThinkAdvisor’s article with FinaMetrica here. You can also get an interesting advisor point of view here.

In|Vest Update: Schwab EVP + More to Speak


The In|Vest event is excited to welcome the newest addition to our speaker line-up from Charles Schwab.

You won’t want to miss Neesha Hathi, EVP, Charles Schwab Investor Services share her insights from one of the most exciting businesses in the wealth management industry. Hathi joins a growing line-up of speakers, representing all aspects of investing, saving and advice. You can view the current line-up here.

Stay tuned as we announce more details about Hathi’s presentation. In the meantime, the preliminary agenda is live and ready to view here.

New Platform Targets Women Investors


This week’s T3 (Technology Tools For Today) conference for advisors revealed some great advancements in wealth management. But the one we took notice of was WorthFM selecting the Vanare | NestEgg platform to power their online investment platform. Haven’t heard of WorthFM?

Worth Financial Management is set to launch this year, and will provide online investment services that are tailored for women investors—a targeted service that now has a few players vying for attention.

Founded by two wealth management superstars (DailyWorth CEO Amanda Steinberg and Source Financial Advisors CEO Michelle Smith, CDFA™) WorthFM, looks to have serious potential. Women investors have been historically overlooked in the male-dominated wealth management world. But Smith and Steinberg are changing that for their growing network (DailyWorth alone has 1.2 million female subscribers).

The partnership with Vanare | NestEgg gives WorthFM a proven digital platform that will provide clients a unique user experience. They can customize investment services to their goals, lifestyle and even their knowledge of investing. We’re excited to see what the future holds for WorthFM, but in the meantime, you can read more about the announcement here.

A $500B Digital Advice Market? Wow!


All of the partnerships and acquisitions in the last year have made it clear that the big banks and firms are looking to serve their advisors with the latest digital platforms. But it looks like the trend isn’t slowing down any time soon.

According to a report by Cerulli Associates, the market for digital platforms used by advisors could reach $500 Billion by 2020. And we're just at the forefront of that growth, with just 5 percent of advisors currently committed to using a digital platform.

It’s certainly a change in tone since robo advisors first hit the market. At the time, didn’t most opine that these disruptors would replace advisors? Now, most mid to large-size firms, and even the digital platforms themselves are committed to the advisor model. They are now competing for advisor business on cost, CRM, data, and risk, to name a few. And furthermore they need to be customizable.

Alois Pirker, Aite Group’s research director (and In|Vest 2015 alum) hit the nail on the head. "

A robo offering a one-size-fits-all for an advisor's white label solution will have a hard time…If they want to work with big firms they will need to be nimble."

The news sets the stage for M&A and disruption in wealth management, so this might just turn into a weekly theme.

You can learn more these announcement from Financial Planning’s Re:InVest Wealth site.

Morningstar Joins In|Vest Line-Up


Morningstar is the go-to service for investment data, and we're excited to announce that their Head of Behavioral Science, Dr. Stephen Wendel has joined the In|Vest 2016 speaker line-up.

Dr. Wendel studies financial behavior, and how digital products can help individuals manage their money more effectively. At Morningstar, he leads a team of behavioral scientists and practitioners to conduct original research on saving and investment behavior.

We’ll have more details about the insights that Dr. Wendel will discuss in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, you can learn more about his background here.

RBC Joins the Digital Movement


Another big financial institution joins the digital future of wealth management. This week, RBC partnered with BlackRock to add the firms (newly acquired) FutureAdvisor service to their fleet of advisors.

Right now it’s just in the pilot phase, and it’s not clear if RBC will offer it across the board to their 1,900 advisors. But it looks like the goal is to beef up the services advisors offer their clients. FutureAdvisor CEO (and In|Vest alum) Bo Lu sees this as a trend in the “digital plus human” services in wealth management.

BlackRock has certainly been busy over the past year. After acquiring FutureAdvisor last August, the firm also landed BBVA as a client to offer digital services to their customers as well, and it looks like there are more deals to come. Already the world’s largest asset management firm, BlackRock’s move is upping the pressure on competitors. We commented last month on Invesco’s deal with Jempstep. Anyone want to make bets on who’s next?

You can read more about RBC and BlackRock’s partnership here.

The Wealthy Show Some Love to the Robos


So here’s a good explanation for the big deals we’re seeing in the digital world. It’s not just millenials that like the online platforms, the wealthy are digging it too – and that’s bound to get the attention of the big banks!

Here are some numbers (just for some perspective):

  • 15% of Schwab’s Intelligent Portfolio platform users invest at least $1 Million
  • 50% of Betterment users have at least $100k invested
  • Overall assets in online platforms increased 210% in 2015 (estimated by Aite Group)

To make matters tougher for the big firms, wealthy investors (which tend to be the seasoned investors) are noticing the fee difference between online and human advisors, and you can expect that they’ll want some justification for the rates.

The $50 billion invested in online platforms is still a small part of the wealth management market, but it’s definitely getting everyone’s attention. To answer a question from our earlier post, it looks like Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo could be next to enter the market.

Bloomberg sums it up here.

(Photo credit: BloombergBusiness)

Narrative Science Co-Founder Joins the In|Vest Program


We’re thrilled to announce that Kristian Hammond, Chief Scientist and Co-Founder at Narrative Science, will join the In|Vest speaking faculty.

Hammond will join Polly Portfolio CEO Jasen Yang—and a couple of yet-to-be confirmed panelists—discussing how conversational commerce will be deployed in the wealth management industry. What’s conversational commerce, you ask? Think of it as Siri or Alexa for investing. Uber developer Chris Messina (who, incidentally claims to have invented the hashtag) writes about conversational commerce here.

More details, including the preliminary agenda are coming. Stay tuned to your inbox!

In the meantime, you can learn more about Kristian Hammond here.


Advisors + Fintech = Winning!


Have you noticed a theme lately? When automated platforms first hit the market, all the talk was how the competition was heating up for advisors, and how their online counterparts could put them out of business.

This doesn’t seem to ring true anymore. ETF.com summed it up this week when discussing the real work only a human advisor can do – client outreach, marketing, financial education, etc. But with access to “next-gen portfolio management tools” (a better term than “robo”, right?) advisors can now outsource some of the most time-consuming, and important work they perform.

Let’s face it, managing a client’s investments requires great software tools. The skilled advisor can now focus their time making sound investment decisions, and doing what’s really important…face time.

The write-up goes into some more detail on some of the platforms we all know (and met at the In|Vest event last year). There’s also a cool Q&A with Zach Lanza on his successful use of Portfolio Pathway for advisors.

Here’s the full article.


401(K)s on the Rise


It was the next logical step when it comes to digital advice. Online investment advisors are diving into the 401(K) market.

Betterment announced their plans a few months ago, but officially launched Betterment for Business this week. Their 401(k) business is now available for plan sponsors to roll out to their employees.

401K Specialist Magazine touted the rollout this week, and even featured one of the plan sponsors – Boxed, a NY shopping app that’s now including Betterments services as part of their benefits plan. It’s definitely a good fit for Boxed and its likely tech-savvy employees. On top of that, the app is known for providing top-notch benefits (including college tuition for children of employees!) That kind of alignment could be great PR for businesses looking to reign in millennial talent and up their benefit portfolios.

Here are more details about Betterment’s 401(k) platform.

Keep in mind, Betterment isn’t the only one in the 401(k) game. blooom’s whole value prop is managing 401(k)s and making it easy. You’ll also hear from blooom’s president Greg Smith at the In|Vest 2016 event.


DriveWealth CEO + More to Speak at In|Vest


The In|Vest speaker line-up had a little shake up this week. Our keynote, Naureen Hassan (formally Schwab’s Intelligent Portfolio EVP) moved on to Morgan Stanley. We’ll keep you posted on who from Schwab will speak in her place, and we’re continuing to add more innovators and disruptors to the program.

This week’s exciting announcement is Robert Cortright, CEO of DriveWealth, a mobile investing platform for individual investors that offers a selection of US listed stocks, ADR's and ETFs. Cortright has a storied career in financial services, and we can’t wait to hear what he thinks of today’s international investment market.

You can learn more about Robert here. Plus, stay tuned. We’re planning to announce the preliminary In|Vest agenda in the coming weeks!

Financial Planning also disclosed some more details about Hassan’s move.


2016’s Outlook for Digital Advice


Has the age of the digital advisor peaked? Some think so. Although several platforms are getting acquired up by the bigger market players, some speculate the valuations could be less than $300 million.

That doesn’t sound bad, unless the platforms (and their investors) expected billion+ dollar valuations like we’ve from other successful start-ups. But what’s different about this movement than other dot.com and tech ventures?

The discussion was a hot topic at Money Management Institute’s conference in last fall, and panelists (include In|Vest 2015 alum Gautheir Vincent from Deloitte) had an interesting outlook. We need to think long term. They speculate that Schwab and Vanguard grow their assets by as much as 50-fold by their young investors over the next decade? And the industry’s big players like Betterment and Wealthfront continue to grow. Betterment even went from 75,000 customers in April 2015, to more than 100,000 in July of that year.

2016 outlook is still uncertain, but it’s still clear that both investors and advisors have grown fond of online platforms. While they might not see the billion dollar valuations yet, they could be on their way to that milestone.

Financial Advisor Magazine had some good insights that you can read here.

In case you missed it, ValueWalk posted these Citi projections in Sept. 2015, that AUM could grow to $5 Trillion over the next decade.

BMO Launches Digital Advisor Service


The big banks continue to enter the coveted “robo-advisor” space as BMO officially launched their SmartFolio service this week.

Investors can utilize SmartFolio starting at a minimum of $5000.
Banks have been concerned for some time about losing out on younger customers to some of the newer online platforms, aimed for millennial investors.

So is BMO now combining the best of both worlds – the products, services and reliability of a big bank, with the digital-friendly tools of the new fintech startups.

Speaking of startups, how will this impact both newcomers, and the digital advisors that have been around for a few years? Most of the big banks have expressed interest in jumping into the market, and if they take BMO’s route, they’ll build the service in-house.

You can read more about BMO’s launch here.

Preliminary Line-up for In|Vest 2016 Announced


We’re still putting the finishing touches on this year’s agenda, but the In|Vest 2016 event has already assembled an exciting line-up of speakers.

Returning to the program are alums from our inaugural 2015 event – Betterment’s CEO John Stein and Motif’s CEO Hardeep Walia, plus a few more. New this year include blooom’s President Greg Smith and Gold Bean’s CEO Jane Barratt, along with names you surely know—Joe Duran of United Capital and Bill Harris of Personal Capital.

There are many more to come, but you can get a preview here.


Deals of the Week


There were two big deals in the world of robos this week, and they’re emblematic of the type of developments we expect to see throughout the year. First, Invesco announced it would acquire Jemstep, a robo solution for advisors. Our colleagues at Financial Planning wrote about it here.

Next, BBVA Compass, the American arm of Spanish banking giant and well-known innovator BBVA, announced it would utilize Black Rock’s Future Advisor platform to offer clients an automated investment platform in 2016. You might remember Future Advisor from last year’s In|Vest conference when founder Bo Lu wowed the crowd a few months before announcing he’d sold to Black Rock.

Who will be next? Sources say we’ll see a few more big announcements before the event in June, along with the release of a few new digital platforms from industry players that have opted to build their own. One thing’s for sure, the digital disruption of wealth management continues.

NPR Covers Digital Advice


2015 saw big advancement as more consumers took online investment platforms. Mainstream media even caught the trend, and we thought NPR’s had an interesting spin, covering a millennial’s thoughts on why robos are superior.

It’s not a story most advisors want to hear. The 29 year-old investor cites all the main reasons the digital revolution is taking place. This quote sums it up, [Robots are] better at driving cars, better at identifying diseases. Human error is a big thing — and they're not greedy.

Ouch! That’s gotta hurt if you’re an advisor listening to this on your drive home. And they don’t go easy on the big firms either, with Goldman Sachs investors receive a particular dig, claiming none were able to out-perform the market.

So what kind of rebuttal should advisors have for NPR, especially as more media are attracted to the trends taking place in financial services? Let us know!

Here’s the NPR story, available as a podcast as well.

Financial Advice Using Snapchat?


Snapchat’s entertaining, I’ll give it that. I watch my friends, favorite celebs and even my trainer shares daily inspirational quick videos that disappear in seconds. So can we now Snapchat with our advisor?

Well not yet, but Reuters leaked that the platform (a service that shares photos, videos and text that’s deleted after 1-10 seconds) might have robo advice in its plans. Financial Planning shares why this idea might not be so far-fetched. After all, platforms like Openfolio are built on sharing portfolios with your network and peers to benchmark performance. We’ve also seen Facebook, Apple and Google expand into payments. So is it’s not so far-fetched to see other social platforms expand into financial services. Snapchat also boasts 100 million daily users, a big opportunity for those trying to reach the millenials.

The company has yet to confirm any reports, so stay tuned. In the meantime, get a preview here.

Schwab’s Intelligent Portfolio Leader to Keynote


We couldn’t wait to share the last update to the In|Vest 2016 event, taking place June 16-17 in NYC. Schwab’s EVP of Investor Services Segments and Platforms, Naureen Hassan has joined the event’s speaking faculty. As the leader of Schwab’s Intelligent Portfolio, we’re looking forward to hearing what next for the industry giant, and what Hassan sees for the future of digital advice.

We’ll have more to say about this discussion in the coming weeks. In the meantime, click here to learn more about Hassan and her role with Schwab.


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