Top 10 Most Popular Posts from 2013

What were the most popular WM Today posts from 2013?  Portfolio rebalancing, financial planning and anything mobile were big draws last year.  Here are the top 10 according to stats from WordPress:

10. 5 Ways a Web Portal Can Excite Your ClientsJunxure logo

This summary from the fantastic Technology, Tools & Today (T3) conference highlights how software vendors need to continuously expand and evolve their product offerings in order to stay relevant.  Junxure CRM has done this by building their ClientViewLive portal, which acts as central integration hub for all other wealth management products.  Through it, clients can access their account holdings, performance reporting, online statements even financial planning tools via a single sign on and a well-designed user interface.

9. Which Portfolio Rebalancing Software is Right for You? Smartleaf’s ResponseSmartLeaf logo

Part of an ongoing series of articles focusing on automated software rebalancers, I thought it would be interesting to interview different vendors and compare their products and their approaches to portfolio management. Continue reading

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Adventures in Rebalancing: The Last Frontier

FA Magazine recently published a good primer on automated solutions for portfolio rebalancing. The article is titled The Last Frontier and was written by James Picerno and it is definitely well-researched. He managed to obtain quotes from industry experts such as Bill Winterberg, Joel Bruckenstein and Michael Kitces, all of whom I have tremendous respect for. The article is certainly a useful resource for any RIA or advisor interested in the basics of rebalancing.

Besides discussing the basic functions of rebalancing, Picerno also gets into some of the more esoteric features that make rebalancing software so incredibly useful. Here is a quote from a lesser-known industry expert:

Technology circa 2013 offers a better way, for reasons that go beyond easing your workload. “You’re also going to provide better service for clients,” says Craig Iskowitz of the Ezra Group, a financial technology consultancy. Rebalancing software, he explains, makes it easier to build and manage custom investment strategies, such as a socially responsible portfolio that closely matches an investor’s preferences.

Portfolio customization has been available for more than a decade on systems such as Fiserv’s Unified Wealth Platform, which is still based on what was formerly known as Checkfree\APL. While it’s true that most of the top vendors in the space offer this feature now, you didn’t have to wait until “technology circa 2013” in order to take advantage of it. Continue reading

Unified Managed Households: The Holy Grail of Wealth Management?

This is a summary from a session from the MMI Tech & Ops 2012 Conference held in Jersey City, NJ last December. The subject of this panel was the Unified Managed Household (UMH) and the challenges and issues around planning, implementation and support.

Moderator:

  • Gary Jones, Vice President for Industry Operations, MMI.

Panelists:

How do you define what UMH is?

UMH is a value proposition for advisors, Morris stated. It is an opportunity for advisors to demonstrate their value and make better decisions.  Fortigent is a “Super-RIA,” he commented, their average client size is between $10-12 million and they use a lot of alternative investments.

Some advisors are worried that technology will make them obsolete. UMH is really more of an aggregation and articulation tool rather than the be all and end all solution, he observed.

UMH is nothing new in the industry, Bracken claimed. It’s what good advisors have been doing for years. They’ve been providing a “manual” UMH using various technology and legal pads.

Investors have many different accounts that can’t be combined, such as Roth IRAs, SEP IRAs and Traditional IRAs, Bracken noted. But advisors still need a way to review and talk about all of their accounts with their clients. Whether UMH or another technology solution is used, it must be part of an efficient and replicable process that can support Ultra-High Net Worth (UHNW) as well as emerging High Net Worth and Mass Affluent clients. Fidelity is looking to their technology partners to help make their existing UMH more efficient, he said.

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Why Haven’t Advisors Embraced Unified Managed Accounts?

This is an overview of a session from the MMI 2012 Tech & Ops Conference held in Jersey City, NJ.

Moderator:

  • Jay Link, Managing Director, Managed Solutions Group, Merrill Lynch

Panelists:

  • Andrew Clipper, Managing Director, Head of Wealth Management Services, NA, Citi
  • John Capelli, Managing Director, COO, Managed Account Advisors, Merrill Lynch
  • Rob Klapprodt, President and Co-Founder, Vestmark

Are UMA/UMH and Rep as PM essentially the same thing?

While there are similarities between the Merrill UMA and Rep as PM programs as far as the end investor is concerned there are important differences, Capelli emphasized. UMA’s can include investment management delivered strategies, for example. Also, while Rep as PM can use mutual funds and ETFs to provide exposure to lower correlation asset classes, such as emerging markets, a UMA can deliver them at a lower cost using individual securities, he said.

If the goal is to create a portfolio across all of an investor’s assets, those assets are usually spread out across numerous legal entities and accounts, Clipper observed. The UMA/UMH structure is the best delivery mechanism for a holistic approach. On the OpenWealth platform, they separate out portfolio administration (i.e. rebalancing, asset location, cash management) from the intellectual property (i.e. the models). The portfolio administration is all handled in a central location, while the intellectual property can be added anywhere along the value chain, he said.

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Operational Hurdles for Advisory Solutions – Part 1

How does the regulatory environment look from a technology and operations perspective?  Recently, there was a surprise SEC ruling on uniform fiduciary standards that’s caused a lot of concern on the broker-dealer side about what it means for their reps to be fiduciaries. Also, RIAs will have some of the same requirements for data retention and collection as broker-dealers. What do regulatory standards mean for us as an industry? 

This post is a summary of a session from the MMI 2011 Fall Solutions Conference that was held in NYC.  It is part 1 of a 2 part series.

Moderator:
Heeren Pathak – CTO, Vestmark, Inc. Responsible for continued development and direction for the wealth management platform.

Panelists:
John Ashefski – Senior VP & Managing Director, Investment Management Services, SEI Investments. John is responsible for SEI global outsourcing services.
Cheryl Nash – President, Investment Services, Fiserv. Cheryl is responsible for driving strategic vision and direction for Fiserv’s managed accounts platform solution.
Chandresh Iyer – Managing Director, Head of Global Custody & Investment, Citi Global Transaction Services. Chandresh is responsible for P&L, including product strategy, business management and client franchise development across investor client segments including fund managers, hedge funds, banks, insurance, wealth managers.
Roger Paradiso – President and Chief Investment Officer, Private Portfolio Group, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. Roger was the originator of the unified managed account and is responsible for the UMA platform at MSSB, driving technology direction, product development and investment policy.

What can firms do now to prepare for upcoming SEC regulation changes, even though theyhaven’t been finalized?

Cheryl was at the Tiburon conference last week and there was lots of discussion around the SEC ruling.  The consensus was that the Uniform Fiduciary Standards won’t be implemented until after the election.  From Fiserv’s perspective, a lot has to do with transparency, understanding what’s in your investment models and how visible it is to the end investor.

Fiserv has invested a lot to ensure transparency in their solutions, Cheryl noted. Starting with important front office functions such as planning and investment policy statements and making sure they translate through to trading and reporting to support execution of an investor’s household plan.

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