Is MyVest the Right Portfolio Rebalancing Software for You?

Research has shown that portfolios that are rebalanced at least annually experienced lower volatility and higher risk-adjusted returns than those that are not rebalanced.  Every advisor should have access to a quality, automated software rebalancing tool to handle this task, which used to be a time-consuming chore.

As part of my series of articles on portfolio rebalancing software, I reached out to MyVest. The company was co-founded by Bill Harris in 2001 and has their headquarters is in San Francisco, CA. Harris, who is chairman of the Board of MyVest, was formerly CEO of both PayPal and Intuit and is currently the CEO of Personal Capital.

MyVest has been gaining traction recently, announcing a deal with Thomson Reuters to provide their Strategic Portfolio SystemTM (SPS) wealth management platform to users of Thomson Reuters’ Beta Systems clearance and custody platform.  This will be a welcome improvement and provide Beta’s broker-dealer clients with a more modern managed accounts offering.

For this review, I spoke with Mike Everett, Vice President of Business Development and Charlie Haims, VP of Marketing.  Everett  joined the firm back in 2010 after 14 years at Checkfree (now Fiserv Investment Services).   Haims has been with MyVest for almost a year and a half and was previously in the same role at SharesPost. Continue reading

Financial Planning in 10 Minutes or Less with goalgamiPro

Origami is the Japanese traditional art of paper folding and is made up of two smaller words; “ori”, meaning to fold and “gami” meaning paper.

goalgamiPro (which starts with a lowercase ‘g’) is not an ancient art form, but the name of a software product developed by Advisor Software Inc. (ASI).  It is designed to be a “lite” financial planning tool that enables advisors to create financial plans in as little as ten minutes.

I recently spoke with Neal Ringquist, President and COO of Advisor Software Inc. about their software and how ASI is planning on revolutionizing the financial planning process.

While origami began sometime in the 6th century C.E., goalgamiPro has a more recent origin.  It was launched 12 months ago and was designed to fill the gap between calculators and widgets on the low end and comprehensive planning software on the high end.  goalgamiPro is a quick planning solution and already has around 500 users. It produces modular, single page reports that have questions as the title, such as “What is my plan” and “How do I pay for retirement?” And take just ten minutes to produce. Continue reading

The Hunger for Yield

This is a summary of a session from the Money Management Institute’s 2013 Spring Convention. The panel was made up of three experts all from large, institutional asset management firms:

  • Daniel Loewy, Co-Chief Investment Officer, AllianceBernstein
  • Donald Plotsky, Head of Product Group, Western Asset Management
  • Robert McConnaughey, Head of Equity, Columbia Management

The session moderator was Kevin Keefe, Executive VP, Advisor Group.

Can you discuss some of your methodologies around asset allocation and portfolio construction?

According to Plotsky, a lot of clients are worried that fixed income is no longer a viable investment. He and his firm reject that notion and believe that investors need to re-think their approach to asset allocation. Income is a critical component of any long-term investment program, he stressed.

Loewy believes that there are three keys to successful asset allocation:

  1. pro-active – long-term assumptions about strategic asset allocation doesn’t cut it anymore, must have a pro-active approach to keep clients in the game to capture long-term risk premium
  2. flexibility – traditionally, risk was managed from the bottom-up using individual portfolio sub-components, investors want to manage absolute risk, not relative risk, requires a more flexible approach to be able to take advantage of opportunities
  3. customization – there is no one-size fits all portfolio, need to focus on individual outcomes such as growth, income, real return or capital preservation

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Quant-in-a-Box: Risk Management Made Easy for Advisors

“Living at risk is like jumping off a cliff and building your wings on the way down.”Hidden Levers Logo
― Ray Bradbury

“Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.”
― Warren Buffett

It often seems that the world has been just lurching from one crisis to the next, playing havoc with buy and hold strategies and modern portfolio theory.  Wirehouse advisors have access to macroeconomic analysis and sophisticated tools to assist them with risk management.  RIAs are at a disadvantage since these tools aren’t readily available and can be prohibitively expensive.

Levers Impacting Portfolio 2 @@@

Hidden Levers is a technology company that I believe is well-positioned to help. I first encountered them at the Tools and Technology Today (T3) Conference back in February, although they have been around since 2009 and currently are located in the Bloomberg Technology Incubator in New York City.  They offer a web-based service that provides a toolkit for advisors with the goal of helping them to turn risk management into a profit center by:

  • Enhancing prospecting for new clients
  • Prompting existing clients to be more pro-active
  • Increasing wallet share by providing opportunities to impress clients

The biggest value of their service is assessing the impact that macroeconomic trends and scenarios will have on your portfolios and what actions to take.  HiddenLevers isn’t a fortune teller, what it does is illuminate the sensitivity of portfolio holdings against over 100 macroeconomic indicators or levers.  These include indices, commodities, currencies, and interest rates, to name a few of the statistically significant ones. Continue reading

5 Ways a Web Portal Can Excite Your Clients

This is a summary of part of a panel discussion from the Tools and Technology Today (T3) Conference that took place February 11-13, 2013 in Miami, FL. The original subject of the panel was Advent/BlackDiamond integration, but it morphed into more of a discussion of how firms are leveraging their CRM systems to become the central integration hub of their business.Junxure logo

In this article, I’m focusing on the experiences of Jennifer S. Henderson, CEO, Pinnacle Wealth Planning Services, who described how her firm implemented Junxure’s ClientView Live web portal.

Searching for a One-Stop Shop

Pinnacle had been trying for many years to find a robust solution that they could implement as a one-stop shop for their client-facing experience, Henderson explained. The critical first step is to find the one piece of software that will become the anchor for your overall solution, she advised. Continue reading

Has Rep as PM Growth Peaked? (2/2)

This is a summary of a panel discussion from the Money Management Institute’s 2012 Spring conference held in Chicago, IL.  This is part 2 of 2.  You can read Part 1 here.

Moderator: Jay Link, Managing Director, Merrill Lynch

Lorna Sabia, Managing Director, Head of Managed Solutions Group, Merrill Lynch
James Walker, Head of Consulting Group, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney
Matthew Witkos, President, Eaton Vance Distributors.  Chairman of MMI.

Is your firm coming out with any new product offerings?

According to Witkos, Eaton Vance has developed a new product that they are calling Exchange Traded Managed Funds.  It is like an ETF since it trades like a stock, except without the transparency of an ETF so that the money manager’s intellectual property is protected.

What is the sponsor perspective on mutual fund velocity?  

No one wants advisors over-trading mutual funds, Walker commented.  Firms look at trade velocity and try to keep it within a certain range, he said.  The industry should be more aware of the difference between selling mutual funds individually versus fitting them into a larger portfolio.  Walker thinks that market velocity won’t be going away any time soon.
Sabia feels that velocity is a complex topic and more data is needed to determine the impact that it might have on a portfolio.  She also stated that she believes that sponsors, advisors and managers all “own” the issue of velocity and everyone should work together to deal with it.

Continue reading

Has Rep as PM Growth Peaked? (1/2)

This is a summary of a panel discussion from the Money Management Institute’s 2012 Spring conference held in Chicago, IL.  This is part 1 of 2.  You can read part 2 of 2 here.

Moderator: Jay Link, Managing Director, Merrill Lynch

Lorna Sabbia, Managing Director, Head of Managed Solutions Group, Merrill Lynch
James Walker, Head of Consulting Group, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney
Matthew Witkos, President, Eaton Vance Distributors.  Chairman of MMI.
Has the growth of RPM programs peaked?  According to Dover Research, five years ago, there was $1.2 trillion of client assets in managed solutions and RPM/RAA combined were less than 30% of that total.  Today, total managed assets have grown to $2.4 trillion while rep-driven programs have increased their share to 40% or almost $1 trillion.

How important is RPM to your firm?

RPM is Morgan Stanley’s fastest growing program, Walker reported, with $560 bil in all advisory programs, $150 bil in RPM globally.  Major change in past few year has been change from individual equities (now 34%) to include ETFs, mutual funds, etc.  This is a great solution for Reps that consider themselves to be active allocators.  Trend: move towards discretion, driven by FAs practice management, customers want outcome based investing.  From a regulatory sense, it’s easier to deliver on fiduciary duty.
Sabbia joined the Managed Solutions Group seven months ago.  At Merrill, RPM is called the Personal Investment Advisory (PIA) program and was launched in 1996, now $105 bil AUM.  Approximately 4,500 FAs leverage the program and they’re segmented into three buckets: it’s their fastest growing segment with a $15.7 bil net increase last year and they’re on track to beat that number this year, she said.

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Inside the Minds of Barron’s Top Financial Advisors

This is a summary of a panel from the Fiserv Client Conference Spring 2012, which was held in Las Vegas, NV.


Sterling Shea, Managing Director, Head of Advisory & Wealth Management Programs, Barron’s.


Ed Dollinger, Edward Jones, 26 years – manages $500 mm

Theresa Chicopolos, CFP, Wells Fargo, Scottsdale, AZ, 26 years – manages $1.16 bil in Ultra-HNW and Institutional assets, she was the #1 ranked advisor in Arizona in both 2010 and 2011.

John Waldron, CFP, Founder and CEO of Waldron Investments, $2.2 bil AUM, HNW individual and institutional clients, #1 ranked advisor in Pennsylvania.

What functions are you allocating more time to now than you did five years ago?

net new flow of money is concentrated in a small number of advisors, these advisors adapted their methods of communication and internal processes to the evolving consumer needs.

Chicopolos has been steadily reducing the number of client relationships over the past ten years in order to concentrate the firm’s focus on fewer while still increasing the overall AUM. 10 years ago, she had 3,500 clients and it was mostly transactional business. 5 years ago she was down to 280 clients, and today she has just 75. She spends more time now looking at her client’s entire balance sheet and making sure that they execute the plans as they are designed.

Waldron Investments is a consulting firm with 26 employees that has an independent asset management offering that integrates with the other seven financial disciplines. Five years ago they were mostly doing the same things as today, which is understanding the client’s entire balance sheet and implementing financial strategies. What has changed significantly is their client’s psyche, he said. More clients are doing due diligence on them than five years ago.

Previously, Dollinger’s firm focused more on portfolio construction, but now they’re focusing more on strengthening client relationships. Over the past five years they’ve been trying to reduce the number of client relationships and increase the amount of assets at the ones they have, he said.

Continue reading