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The RIA business has many tech vendors working hard to serve its diverse needs, and we're seeing technology become a more crucial part of setting up and running an RIA than ever before.

The Technology section includes unbiased tech reviews, tech-related news, and coverage of tech-related conferences.


Christine Sandler: Support[ing] natively digital assets is a marathon, not a sprint ... this year in particular, we’ve seen more interest than ever.

Fidelity bags $13 billion AUM digital assets win to its custody, as federal regulators attempt to move Bitcoin custody from 'weirdo websites' to mainstream banks

Backed internally by CEO Abby Johnson, the Boston giant spent five years working in silence on its crypto subsidiary, Fidelity Digital Assets. In 2018, it launched. Now clients, like Kingdom Trust, with RIA assets, are validating Abby's gamble.

July 29, 2020 — 7:27 PM by Oisin Breen

Brooke's Note: Is an RIA failing in its fiduciary duty if it fails to include cryptocurrency in client accounts? This article does not address that issue. But putting a story with Bitcoin, Fidelity asset custody and RIA assets on the RIABiz page hints that it's no ...

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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's 2018 pledge to 'reimagine retirement planning' sparked hopes of transcending incumbent systems and products.

The BlackRock-Microsoft 'reimagining' of the 401(k) market, arrives looking more like a remix of existing third-party products

The New York-Seattle cross-breeding combines annuities and BlackRock target-date funds but the superpowers expended little imagination, RIA annuity executives say.

July 27, 2020 — 9:43 PM by Oisin Breen

Brooke's Note: Increasingly, the advisor vendor business fits into two categories -- the best-of-breed crowd and the best-of-bundle companies. Neither is perfect, and both parties seem to need each other. But when Microsoft and BlackRock CEOs had a vaunted summit that had the leaders promising a "reimagined" retirement system ...

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John Swolfs: Event-focused organizations around the world are trying to hold their events in the most timely and effective manner that they are able. Inside ETFs and the rest of the financial event industry are all looking forward to having more flexibility after Covid has passed.

Oisín's Bits: With COVID-19 spiking in 27 states, RIA events like Wealth/Stack fight for late 2020 conference slots • Black Diamond taps startup Canoe for alternatives reporting • DOL quantifies RIA numbers

The InsideETFs event will compete with InvestWest for coveted late 2020 date, but without Josh Brown's stardust • SS&C's move follows Addepar advance and will include Advent products• The DoL sees net gains in RIAs of about 300 a year

July 8, 2020 — 2:23 AM by Oisin Breen

The COVID-19 pandemic, now spiking in 27 states, is still playing havoc with RIA events, causing popular gatherings like Wealth/Stack and InVest West to scramble for late 2020 dates to host ...

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Friends for a decade, Runik Mehrotra and Samir Vasavada have raised $18 million in VC funds, largely on the promise that they can take on -- and beat -- current B2B robos like Betterment.

Sequoia Capital bet and won big on FutureAdvisor; now it's wagering $14.5 million on Vise and its 'extreme value proposition' for RIAs

The legendary VC sold FA to BlackRock for $150 million , cooled its heels, then re-upped in Robo 2.0 wave with TD, Schwab, Riskalyze and Jon Xu playing roles

July 6, 2020 — 7:16 PM by Oisin Breen

Brooke's Note: Recently I heard an incredible podcast (by Stephen Chen CEO of NewRetirement interviewing Eric Brewer and Ken Goldberg) about just how limited artificial intelligence is compared to human intelligence. The fact that Watson can beat Fischer in chess is a false indicator. A car, ...

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Eric Clarke: We have the scale now we need to effectively compete in a number of areas to help us win enterprise opportunities.

In a deal wired by a 'Tony,' Orion leaps to the top TAMP tier, with $42 billion and $1 trillion-plus of RIA portfolios, which may make it more lethal to rivals

At the urging of Genstar's Tony Salewski, the Omaha organization will pay an estimated $600 million for Brinker. In the process, Orion becomes a 1,000-employee firm-- one notch below No. 3 AssetMark on the TAMP list

June 30, 2020 — 2:24 AM by Oisin Breen

Brooke's Note: I spent the better part of Monday editing and chopping down this RIA novella but that hardly means it's short or gutted of intrigue. So many RIA storylines of decades standing converge on this deal. But what's apparent is that the dealmakers don't see it ...

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Josh Levin: 'I have bet my career on direct indexing as the paradigm-shift-to-end-all in the world of investing.'

With the action at Motif, Folio and Parametric as exhibits, RIAs may be on the verge of buying investments more like Spotify music, less like CDs

Schwab and Goldman Sachs made direct-indexing purchases and Parametric wildly raked in direct-indexing assets. Added to zero commissions, an ESG revolution and better software, RIAs may be able to cheaply and effectively become smart-beta indexers

June 22, 2020 — 8:01 PM by Josh Levin, Guest Columnist

Brooke's Note: I recall the first time I heard the spiel about direct indexing from Adam Nash at Wealthfront, and it sounded pretty impressive. But that was way back in 2015. Since then, it has popped up more often. But it has also begun to ...

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Eric Poirier: You would be hard pressed to get it done any faster.

Addepar extends business model from software maker to player in the investments business -- a secretive project 10 years in the making

The Mountain View, Calif., firm registers a broker-dealer then rolls out 'Marketplace' to virtually meld five big semi-manual platforms into one smoother, more digital NTF platform of alts -- and charge a hefty toll.

June 16, 2020 — 1:46 AM by Oisin Breen

Brooke's Note: When Chuck Schwab invented OneSource in the 1990s it was a huge advance. Funds were willing to pay his firm 35 basis points annually for all the assets that flowed to them because of all the marketing costs it saved them. Investors loved ...

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Plaid founders Zach Perret and William Hockey secured a lucrative sale to Visa on Jan. 22. But now, their company has to face down a class action suit.

'Fraud' lawsuit slams Plaid on eve of historic $5.3-billion payday; some experts say it's a 'fishing expedition,' but plaintiff's lawyers say, 'This is no shakedown' -- Second suit follows in July

It's been six months since Visa agreed to a wild valuation for the seven year-old Yodlee competitor that caused wealth fintechs to retain investment bankers left and right. Now Plaid faces two class action suits

June 10, 2020 — 12:40 AM by Oisin Breen

Brooke's Note: It's amazing how $5 billion galvanizes peoples' attention -- especially when such immense valuation baffles experts. A San Francisco-based startup with modest revenues, fewer than 500 employees and $309 billion of VC backing is set to be scooped up this month for a price tag ...

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Michael Carvin: [It was] an enormous operational and logistical challenge. We made significant investments in people, infrastructure and technology.

How SmartAsset is purging the stupid factor from robo-to-RIA referrals so it can triple prices, quadruple its closing rate and satisfy its VCs' biological clocks

The Manhattan-based startup brings in 65 million monthly visitors to its freebie website but only a trickle of it as AUM because the digital hand-off to the human advisor all too often gets fumbled

June 8, 2020 — 11:18 PM by Oisin Breen

Brooke's Note: Whether you are hiring a plumber, a veterinarian or a financial advisor, your preferred introduction is a referral from somebody you know and trust. First of all, you have reason to believe your referring friend has your best interests at heart. But there's an unspoken factor, ...

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Thomas Peterffy founded Interactive Brokers in 1978, but his firm only entered RIA custody in 2002. Now, in 2020, he's got the RIA bug.

When Interactive Brokers sweetened its RIA custody offering in 2019, it worked -- so now it's investing in more sugar

The Greenwich, Conn. custodian now has 25,000 funds on its supermarket, new simplified trading software and a heightened sense of urgency as Wall Street scoops up competitors

June 3, 2020 — 4:43 PM by Oisin Breen

Brooke's Note: In the unlikely event the Department of Justice (DOJ) disallows the Schwab-TD merger, it'll be because the DOJ concludes that the deal is anti-competitive. Yet it's almost as if Schwab's competitors have -- ever since -- gone out of their way to reassure regulators ...

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Abby Johnson: '[We] are now joining with several financial institutions to accelerate the availability of a secure, transparent and more reliable network.'

Tired of having their screens scraped, Schwab and Fidelity launch API initiatives to curtail the practice -- rewarding some, but not all scrapers with cleaner data

Opening up their APIs gives both powerhouses the ability to share data while also making it more secure -- it also puts them back in the driver's seat in choosing who gets it.

May 29, 2020 — 4:45 AM by By Lisa Shidler

Brooke's Note: In retrospect it's a wonder it took so long for Fidelity, Schwab and other big financial firms that hold virtual goldmines of client data to try to reap more value from them. In fact, it appears, it has often been just the opposite ...

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Jonathan Pincus is a Northern Trust ringer with a track record.

With $4 million VC raise fresh in hand, SMArtX takes next step to shed Black Diamond shadow by hiring a president/COO who casts his own

.Jonathan Pincus took overseen assets at Northern Trust from $3 billion to $70 billion at his Chicago firm and learned about SMartX after in his old role

May 22, 2020 — 9:36 PM by Oisin Breen

Brooke's Note: Again and again we see it. The investment management business isn't dead. It just needs to be sold with more aids to financial advice baked in. SMArtX smartly learned from RIAs and now it'll take its game -- with new software and now a ...

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Lawrence Calcano: We're living in sad and bizarre times. It's putting a spotlight on the need for automation. Historically there's a just lots of re-typing.

No sooner does Lawrence Calcano raise $146 million than he buys rival Artivest -- then Wells Fargo alts service -- capping iCapital's 500%-plus run on alternatives 'platform' to $58 billion -- with almost every wolf on Wall Street chipping in

The iCapital CEO, who started 2019 at a humble $8 billion of AUA, now adds Artivest's $4 billion and its sweet technology to rolled up clientele with funding from BlackRock, Blackstone, Carlyle, KKR, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley among others. A month later, iCapital brings in $3 billion more with purchase of Wells Fargo alts platform, and the storied bank became an iCapital investor.

May 21, 2020 — 2:20 AM by Brooke Southall

Brooke's Note: For RIAs, alternative investments have all the advantages -- and all the problems. On the plus side is differentiation, non-correlation and the potential for truly extraordinary returns. On the downside is a very non-digital marketplace of spreadsheets, manual entry and fragmentation of distribution -- ...

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Peter D'Arrigo: 'Yodlee... is starting to, or actually beginning of last year, running into some headwinds in terms of growth, particularly within that analytics segment.

Envestnet cautions about Yodlee subscription 'headwinds' and the FTC asking more Yodlee-data questions as the company recorded a blowout revenue quarter

With the Redwood City-based analytics unit's possible sale put to bed for now, the Chicago firm reveals new worries about data privacy and competition but Envestnet proper's automated platform is the bomb in pandemic shutdown

May 19, 2020 — 2:48 AM by By Lisa Shidler

Brooke's Note: Envestnet now owns Tamarac, MoneyGuidePro, FolioDynamix and Yodlee. It's a diversified portfolio of advisor brands that all stand for something in this industry. But the Chicago technology outsourcer may still be best at being ... Envestnet. So its overall revenues steam ahead even ...

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Can Personal Capital (with Redwood Shores HQ in photo) get $1 billion ask price with fair M&A skies on the fade?

JPMorgan's reported balk on Personal Capital bid is latest Covid-19 M&A infection as Yodlee, Brinker, Orion sale claims also fade from the radar

Moelis is overseeing an 'auction' of the Redwood Shores, Calif., online RIA, which manages about $12 billion, and buyers are not ready to pay the $1 billion ask -- with JPMorgan Chase pulling out entirely, three sources told Barron's

May 13, 2020 — 8:44 PM by Brooke Southall

Brooke's Note: When the Plaid deal was made public, jaws dropped. Either the 25- to 50-times-revenue valuation (according Lex Sokolin, an analyst and global fintech co-head at ConsenSys) marked a new dream era for RIA valuations, or it marked the frothy top of a 10-year run. Now it ...

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