Enjoy the current installment of “weekend reading for financial planners” – this week’s edition kicks off with the news of yet another legal victory for the Department of Labor, as the request from the National Association of Fixed Annuities (NAFA) for a preliminary injunction to stop the DoL fiduciary rule was denied (though NAFA’s appeal for its original loss to the DoL is still pending).
Also in the news this week was the launch of Schwab’s new Intelligent Advisory service, an expansion of its “robo-advisor” program for the mass affluent that will provide access to a CFP certificant who provides a personalized financial plan (in addition to investment management), all for a mere 0.28% AUM fee (plus the cost of the underlying ETFs) with a $25,000 minimum – a bold competitive shot across the bow of Vanguard’s Personal Advisor Services (with a 0.30% AUM fee and a $50,000 minimum), but also to a wide swath of independent financial advisors who also work with mass affluent clientele (some on Schwab’s own Institutional platform!).
From there, we have a slew of advisor technology articles this week, including: the latest results of the annual Financial Planning tech survey (though unfortunately, this year FP magazine is limiting access to the survey results!) and only highlighting the top few companies in each category; a review of new advisor marketing tools Snappy Kraken and Twenty Over Ten; a discussion of the new PFM app Moven, which competes primarily in the banking space but could see adoption from the clients of financial advisors; a look at “sleeve accounts” in portfolio accounting software and why they can be more efficient than just creating multiple accounts to separate clients’ assets; a review of the latest (and pending) tech developments at the major RIA custodians (Schwab, Fidelity, and TD Ameritrade); how Riskalyze intends to deploy its new $20M of private equity (by pivoting from “just” a risk tolerance assessment tool to a broader “robo” solution that supports acquiring and onboarding new clients); and a look at the explosion of new DoL compliance technology tools (and why there may already be “too many” for what most advisors really need).
We wrap up with three interesting articles, continuing the technology theme: the first is a look at the ever-expanding impact and power of social media tools, which aren’t just a marketing channel but are allowing people to organize new social and political movements in ways that simply weren’t feasible in the past; the second is a review of several financial-oriented websites and apps that are increasingly pivoting towards becoming “automated financial assistants”, from Digit to Mint to Credit Karma, which could begin to compete with financial advisors, or simply complement areas they don’t typically advise on anyway; and the last is an overview of the empirical research that still suggests, in the end, that technology and automation really don’t cause mass unemployment, and can even boost employment in some sectors (as the number of bank tellers increased after the introduction of the ATM), but with the accelerating pace of technology change, suggests that at a minimum we need to get better about helping people prepare for new jobs and industries (which has both job training and financial planning implications!).
And be certain to check out Bill Winterberg’s “Bits & Bytes” video at the end, which this week includes coverage of the new Schwab Intelligent Advisory solution, the news that Finicity has raised $42M of venture capital to begin development again on the “old” Intuit Financial Data APIs, and the rollout of Yodlee account aggregation capabilities on the Envestnet|Tamarac Advisor Xi platform.
Enjoy the “light” reading!