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How Lori Hardwick's startup -- funded to the gills -- may co-opt the advisor desktop by creating an overarching open architecture

The co-founder's AI Labs is a portal-of-portals software that means to create -- and just may -- a virtual mono-custodian, mono-software platform

Thursday, March 15, 2018 – 1:53 AM by Brooke Southall
Admin:
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Lori Hardwick: We get three to four calls a week of people wanting to invest.

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Peter Giza

Peter Giza

March 15, 2018 — 2:52 AM
It sound great on paper but as Shirl Penney put it "the success of AI Labs, may ultimately hinge less on engineering than on Hardwick's ability to expeditiously get buy-in from a large constituency of custodians..." Say what you want about Fidelity negative comment, but I will bet you the rest are thinking the same thing to themselves. The first thing that enters their minds is ease of attrition. This is precisely why there is little cooperation in standardization of data access amongst custodians. Not to say things won't change, just like onboarding tools are forcing change but change takes time. However I think the biggest issue is that there is a race on to own the digital experience. Wealthtech providers and custodians alike understand that the digital experience with its ease of use and access of information is where they ultimately win. How will AI Labs present them in a way that doesn't look like a bigbox frontend? Even if its only perception we all know that perception is 90% of reality. I am watching with eager expectation because it does represent movement toward the next horizon of advancement in technology and digital experience. Pete Pete Giza | Spitbrook Associates
Bill Winterberg

Bill Winterberg

March 15, 2018 — 12:39 PM
A few things: "Chicago-based Envestnet Inc. is expected to come to market with a competitive product." And how would RIABiz classify the Envestnet | Tamarac Platform available and in use by thousands of firms today? "By Q3, we [Fidelity] go into production [with platform technology," he [Durbin] says. According to Fidelity's February 7, 2018 press release, the company will launch pilot phases of Consolidated Data, Insights + Analytics, Advanced Modeling & Rebalancing and other tools for Wealthscape. I would not classify a series of pilots as production-ready for Wealthscape customers. These additions, though, are a welcome step in the right direction for Wealthscape customers. And for additional context, readers may appreciate awareness of similar "dashboard of dashboard" platforms available from Orion Advisor Services, SS&C Technologies, Advyzon, and more. This space is not without competition, and I look forward to the solution coming to market from AI Labs, as the competition should lead to more functionality at approachable pricing for wealth managers and financial institutions. Conflicts of Interest Disclosure: <a href="http://fppad.com/disclaimer" rel="nofollow">http://fppad.com/disclaimer</a>
timn

timn

March 15, 2018 — 3:47 PM
Lori isn't listed anywhere on Crunchbase it doesn't seem to me, nor is she listed on the AI Labs website, nor listed on Angellist with that company. Wonder why not?
timn

timn

March 15, 2018 — 3:50 PM
Ah it's Advisor Innovation Labs. Not AI Labs.
Stephen Winks

Stephen Winks

March 16, 2018 — 4:04 PM
What is missing Certainly managing a broad array of technology and analytics is helpful, yet simplification and scalability are a function of a well defined expert prudent process (asset/liability study, investment policy, portfolio construction, performance monitor, etc,-authenticated back to statute) none of which is addressed in any of the break thoughs discussed. here. Thus the complexity in advisory services is largely self inflicted because no one wants exposure to fiduciary liability because of a prescribe expert prudent process. Yet without an expert prudent process isn't the industry just playing in the margins without any practical impact. THere is no reason why cost to the investor can not be streamlined, compensation to the advisor greatly enhanced, and an unprecedented level of expert investment and administrative counsel pbrokeraged in an easy to use business model. The problem is brokerage has little to do with advisory services. We are letting the clerical function of brokerage dictate conflicting parameters to advice.. The ultimate disrupter is building faster, better, cheaper advisory services support independent of the constraints of conventional brokerage. SCW
Lori Hardwick

Lori Hardwick

March 16, 2018 — 8:44 PM
Appreciate the comments above and I certainly agree with much of what was shared. Thought it would be helpful (given the calls and emails I've received this week) to be sure to set the record straight that although we are building a digital system of engagement between the advisor and client to help them have more meaningful conversations and share more information between one another, we are completely agnostic as to which custodian, platform or tools are used by that advisory firm. As Brooke aptly pointed out, we are not looking to displace any of your current providers/partners in your existing vendor ecosystem. We approach this differently by pulling all the data points together (from all the disparate and silo'ed tech applications), and re-rendering that information in a uniform and consistent way to advisors and their clients, and thus, GREATLY improving the experience for both. As has been noted, many financial services providers now have open API's which allows for better data flow. The major difference with what AI Labs is doing vs our "competition", is that we are not anchoring the advisor or advisory firm back to a product, platform, custodian or technology tool, but rather, we help neutralize that effect by creating a portal that looks and feels like YOUR firm's brand/voice. Our solution also allows you to pivot and adopt new technology into the portal extremely quickly and easily (taking days not months) without prompting a change to your entire client and advisor experience when a switch is needed. As a reminder, the advisory firms own their clients' data and they can point it to whomever they choose (via these open API's from the custodians/platforms), so that negates many of the challenges outlined above about AI Labs requiring direct buy-in from the custodians (and other financial services providers) to succeed.
Peter Giza

Peter Giza

March 16, 2018 — 9:06 PM
Lori, What do you make of Fidelity's position (I suspect under-the-breath among others). The digital experience is everything and the battle lines are heavily armored with constant updates to keep it razor sharp. If I turn your marketing and branding around and approach it from the provider's point of view I would say that is the very reason for the lack of excitement. I think its a great idea and hope the challenges you face don't turn into insurmountable roadblocks. Things change albeit sometimes at a glacial pace. Not to beat a dead horse but I will point to the issue of data standards and data sharing. There are several long-standing proposals that have gone nowhere due to fear of attrition. I'm in your court as a proponent of simplification, efficiency and superior UX. Looking forward to seeing your success. Pete Pete Giza | Spitbrook Associates

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