Richard Napolitano – Phew, what a year.
There’s nothing like a time of adversity to forge a new company. Many thanks to our clients, investors, and especially our employees for their commitment to our mission of building a great WealthTech company that does well as a business and does good in the world.
One year into my tenure here, there were lots of learnings, building and growing in a pandemic. We made it through, and we are positioned well for the future, helping clients achieve Digital Transformation.
Digital Transformation of wealth management—what does that mean?
Digital Transformation WealthTech means leveraging technology to:
In my discussions with broker-dealers, these benefits have emerged. But what does Advisor360° bring to the table?
Today, many wealth management companies have been using homebrewed systems or manual processes to operate their businesses. While these systems and processes have brought companies to this point, what about the future?
The paradox of choice
Some companies have chosen to assemble their own solution stacks from the parts bin that is the WealthTech industry. There are so many parts to choose from.
Choice is good, until it is not.
The implication of too much choice is that an advisor’s/user’s experience is more complex than it needs to be. Each choice of a technology component is often narrowly optimized, without consideration for overall user experience.
Lastly, companies are often required to do their own integration work between and among dozens of software components and data sources.
The productivity dilemma
Even if the front-end interface is done well, the user experience is complicated because the challenge is that there is no common underlying data set (no architectural plans) for the workflows from trading, reporting, portfolio rebalancing, customer household information, document management, planning, proposal generation, etc. As the “arms race” in technology continues to accelerate, the investment to be a competitive broker-dealer with amazing advisor and client portals becomes a major expense.
However, it’s not just about cost, it’s about the user (home office employee, advisor, client) experience. Our focus at Advisor360° is all about producing productivity for the advisor and the win-win of advisors and broker-dealers growing their sales and assets under management (AUM).
At Advisor360°, our development team has a dual skill set: deep enterprise software experience and financial services backgrounds inside a broker-dealer. Our Advisor360° team is tuned to the mission of being a premier WealthTech software company. Our advisor users are some of the most productive advisors in the world. Our platform is proven at scale and services thousands of advisors each day, and soon millions of households.
Dealing with data
With integrated technology, advisors, IBDs, and RIAs experience:
So, how do we produce this value?
It’s all about the data. It’s all about how we gather, collect, cleanse, and present the data. We have over 400 direct data feeds that we ingest daily; this data is reconciled, scrubbed, and enriched using automation, AI, and in some cases human intervention. Further, this cleansed data set is stored in what we call our Unified Data Fabric™ (UDF). The UDF includes all customer information, such as trades, books and records, products (aggregation), documents, compliance information, goals and objectives, workflow, etc.
This data is not organized by account, rather it is organized by household.
This allows for a holistic view of the client between and among all the software components of the Advisor360° platform, beyond what other WealthTechs describe as a “unified experience.”
Advisor360° is not just a common UI with single sign-on. We offer a seamless experience because the UDF presents a common household data view from the home office, through the advisor portal to the client portal. And you cannot buy your way into this experience or UDF, it must be built.
Further, this experience is delivered as an enterprise-class SaaS offering to broker-dealers and their advisors and advisors’ clients. “Enterprise-class” means hardened, secure, and highly available. The Advisor360° system is a hardened enterprise-class solution that has been delivered at scale for years and meets various SOC, FINRA, and SEC regulations.
What have I learned?
The wealth management business is ripe for modernization through technology (a.k.a. digital transformation). Wealth managers (broker-dealers and advisors) are under pressure from:
The market needs a full-featured AND easy-to-use deeply integrated platform for broker-dealers, their advisors, and clients. This software must be delivered as a service (SaaS). This WealthTech (Advisor360°) must be delivered as an enterprise-class solution at scale to be the trusted platform for broker-dealers to: 1) grow their business; 2) reduce their costs; and 3) reduce their risks.
The benefits to broker-dealers and their advisors and clients are significant—unlocked with the Advisor360° suite of software that can be taken in their entirety or as bundled components. Born inside of a broker-dealer, we have now evolved into an enterprise software company that is delivering our software as a service to other broker-dealers.
That’s our digital transformation.
Richard Napolitano is Advisor360°’s Chief Executive Officer, ensuring every team in the company is focused on a simple strategic vision: creating outstanding WealthTech products for our clients’ success.
Choosing a Vendor, a Supplier, or a True Partner to Digitally Transform Your Wealth Management Workflow.
Doug Wood – When a wealth management company makes a decision to “bank” on core, supplier-provided, business critical software or services that plug in to the heart of the company’s day-to-day workflow, they aren’t looking for a vendor/customer relationship.
Wealth management companies are looking for more: a true, deep, and total partnership they can rely on over the long term.
For a supplier in this kind of partnership, this calls for a shared understanding of every aspect of the client’s relevant business and ongoing requirements. This calls for responding to and anticipating a client’s needs with consistent, predictable execution and market-leading capabilities that equal or surpass the competition.
In addition to all of that, a true partnership calls for unwavering, quantifiable, excellent service and support. At Advisor360°, we refer to this level of support as Extraordinary Systematic Care.
“Extraordinary” in the way we respond to and exceed the needs of our clients. “Systematic” in the way we proactively leverage state-of-the-art tools and practices while measuring everything we do. “Care” in the way our people deeply commit to serving our clients, ensuring they succeed.
Our clients are at the top of their games. Earning the initial right to partner with them at that level, and then re-earning that right every day, is our primary focus.
Are your vendors true, deep partners? Are your vendors up to the challenge your mission-critical business represents to them?
Last month, Rich Hart asked if your wealth management platform was up to this kind of challenge—and then showed that Advisor360°’s platform is uniquely constructed for this role in your business. Jenn Sawan followed up by emphasizing the service component of an adaptive and responsive SaaS offering, and referenced real-world examples that show how we’ve responded and why that is so critical.
My role at Advisor360° targets Customer Success & Operations. My team’s responsibilities include supplying a trustworthy, enterprise-class infrastructure for our SaaS platform. Also, as that platform is delivered and improved, my team ensures that our customers are immensely successful as they come online and use our offerings effectively. In those roles, we can never be satisfied, and instead must show clients we are constantly improving.
What’s the difference between a “Supplier/Client” and a “Partner/Partner” relationship?
Client expectations of a partner related to service and support go very deep. Partners align and collaborate at every stage of the product lifecycle. That alignment is necessary during the sales, customization, onboarding, go-live, and road mapping phases. It is also central to every aspect of ongoing use, as well as service and support.
If you’re my partner, and you care about my business, then you understand that I don’t want to need your service or support.
Partnered clients expect that you have taken every opportunity to deliver on a platform and its surrounding infrastructure with an eye toward avoiding the need to resolve issues and to ensure continuous operation indefinitely.
To meet these client expectations, the supplier must:
Even with all of these, problems may be encountered. At these times, the strength of a partnership will be most thoroughly tested.
Clients demand a partner that:
No supplier meets all of these objectives all the time. But a supplier partner needs to achieve at a very high level and continuously improve.
At Advisor360°, our partners are our business. Their success is our mission.
Douglas A. Wood is Senior Vice President for Customer Success & Operations at Advisor360°, ensuring clients have a true partner, and the service and support they need to achieve anything.