Envestnet buys UMA Experts Placemark Investments for $66 Million

Last week, I was contacted by my new favorite reporter at FundFire, Danielle Verbrigghe (sorry Tom Stabile) who was writing an article about the purchase of Placemark Investments by Envestnet.  She wanted my view on the benefits of the acquisition to Envestnet as well as for the managers currently on Placemark’s platform.FundFire logo

Envestnet was already the largest turnkey asset management platform (TAMP) vendor based on assets under advisory with $572 billion (as of 1Q 2014), according to the Money Management Institute (MMI).  Adding in Placemark’s $14 billion will bring them to $586 billion in total.  This further distances them from number two on the list, Pershing/Lockwood, with $391 billion.

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Envestnet’s ENV2 Platform Delivers New UMA Features

Sliced bread.  The electric light bulb.  Indoor plumbing.  Unified Manged Accounts (UMA’s) were supposed to be better than these revolutionary inventions and a whole lot more.  They still have not lived up to their hype, but UMA’s have become a standard offering for all managed account platforms.

In this summary of a session from Envestnet’s 2014 Advisor Summit, a panel of experts provides updated information about the Envestnet UMA program including how the program has changed over time, coordinating and updating UMA models, building performance composites and other exciting, new features.

Moderator: Jeff Nicholas, Senior VP, Product Management, Envestnet
Panel: Daren Evans, Sr. Research Analyst, Hightower Associates
Joel Floum, VP, Investment Advisory Programs, US Bancorp Investments
Jim McCormick, Principal, Pryor McCormick Investments

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FolioDynamix Making Waves in Bank Trust Market

Fundfire featured an article yesterday about FolioDynamix adding a new client in the bank trust space.  They called me for comments on how the company has positioned themselves to increase bank trust market share and if their platform provides an opportunity for asset managers to sell more product.

The article is by Danielle Verbrigghe, who recently replaced Tom Stabile as the wealth management reporter for Fundfire.  I always enjoyed reading Tom’s work, talking to him at conferences and was glad to be able to contribute to a number of his pieces.  I wish him the best of luck on his new beat, alternative investments.

But wait, there’s more!

Advice for Going Global with Managed Accounts

As the world has become flatter due to the effects of globalization, investors have felt pressure to diversify beyond their domestic markets.  Most financial firms met this demand by offering assets registered in multiple jurisdictions, however, this was usually only for non-discretionary programs.

Sponsors have recently been adding global capabilities to their managed account products as well such as multi-currency, F/X hedging and trading in foreign ordinaries.  Along with these expanded offerings comes additional layers of complexity.

This article is a summary of a panel session from the Money Management Institute’s Fall Solutions Conference that was held in October 2013 in New York City. The discussion covered the benefits and challenges of expanding managed account programs to meet the needs of global investors. It also covered some of the latest developments in the highly specialized marketplace for Depository Receipts (DR’s), American Depository Receipts (ADR’s) and Global Depository Receipts (GDR’s) and the impact of fungible trading on the managed accounts space. Continue reading

Going Under the Hood of Models-Only Programs

This is a summary of a session from the Money Management Institute’s Fall Solutions Conference that was held in October 2013 in New York City.

Moderator: Heeren Pathak, CTO, Vestmark

Panelists:

Are some asset classes better suited for use in models-only programs?

Asset classes that are more liquid are usually easier to trade in a model, Lasker observed.  Communication is important here since some assets can become illiquid for short periods of time and the managers need to know when there are problems implementing model changes, he stated.

While some strategies are more challenging, most obstacles can be overcome so that they can be included in a model, Overway commented.  Fixed income is a good example, since the models are often provided in the from of a list of characteristics instead of individual securities.  This entails more communication between the Natixis overlay management group and the model manager about which securities would be acceptable in the model portfolio, he pointed out. Continue reading

The Future of Advice Delivery: What Will Solutions Look Like?

This is a summary of a session from the FRA’s 11th Annual Managed Account and UMA Summit that was held in September 2013 in NYC.

Moderator: Walter Hartford, VP, Business Development, F-Squared Investments

Panelists:

Unified Managed Accounts (UMA’s) are not a silver bullet

What the managed accounts industry needs is new investment options, not new account types, Shkuda contented.  UMA’s are not a silver bullet that can solve all of a client’s investment needs.  What’s inside an account is more important than the account structure, she claimed.

Shkuda proposed that UMA growth has been flat for the past few years because the strategies being offered aren’t providing solutions for what clients perceive to be their needs.  Managed account providers must improve on their track record of innovation in order to increase market share, she suggested.

The following three rules were offered by Shkuda for the industry to be more innovative:

1) What has worked in the past, won’t work in the future – mainly due to increasing levels of competition
2) Firms must continually re-invent themselves – especially larger sponsors and wirehouses who are often afraid of cannibalizing their existing business
3) Think outside the box Continue reading

6 Keys to Launching a Successful UMA Program

This is a summary of a session from the FRA’s 11th Annual Managed Account and UMA Summit that was held in September 2013 in NYC.

Moderator: Bill McFadden, U.S. Business Development, CGI

Panelists:
Chris Gibbons, VP Investment Product Management, PNC Asset Management
John McDevitt, CFA, SVP, Brown Brothers Harriman
Sophie Schmitt, Senior Analyst, Wealth Management, Aite Group

1. Centralize investment management processes before launching a UMA.

Schmitt explained that it would be easier for firms to launch a UMA if their investment management was centralized, since the advisors would already be used to outsourcing these decisions.  Advisors are creatures of habit and prefer to sell products with which they are already comfortable, she said.

Brown Brothers made that decision a few years ago and it was a struggle, McDevitt reported.  One important factor was communicating to their advisors that it was better for their clients to have a dedicated asset allocation team that could provide proprietary investment products along with third party mutual funds, he said.

According to Gibbons, PNC rolled out their UMA solution in late 2010 and they are now closing in on $4 billion in AUM.  While much of their growth was mandate-driven (the stick), it was easier because they already had a centralized investment management and asset allocation infrastructure in place. Continue reading