Two headwinds for advisers—the speedy pace of evolving technology and online investment firms—could provide a practice management edge. Advisers want to engage clients and prospects online with a service that integrates easily with their existing back-end technology, but this was not possible until the Orion-Jemstep collaboration, the two firms said in a statement.
“The partnership with Jemstep provides scalability without being a cookie-cutter approach to integrating a robo-product at an advisory,” says Eric Clarke, president of Orion. The solution is not about automating the adviser, he maintains, it’s about providing an end-to-end solution that attracts and engages clients, services and manages them, and everything in between. But the technology doesn’t make the adviser look like everyone else. “Our solution is not about automating the adviser, it is about creating a tool to make the adviser even greater than they already are by augmenting their differentiation through technology,” Clarke says.
Advisers should approach so-called robo technology without fear, Clarke says. The immediate takeaway is that instead of tip-toeing around it or pretending it doesn’t exist, advisers should be part of that disruption. “Robo-technology is just a catch-all category for a tool, and there is no reason that independent advisers cannot take advantage of this tool to the benefit of their clients,” Clarke tells PLANADVISER. The platform is a way to leverage the technology to their advantage, he says.
Jemstep, rather than being a provider to the robo-adviser industry, provides tools and technology from a robo perspective, Clarke says. “The advisers we are trying to empower are entrepreneurs who are looking for ways to tweak their practice to create the most advantageous outcome for their clients, providing them with the greatest possible return while helping improve client-service,” he says.
Clarke says the robo-tool allows advisers to automate their investment philosophy so they can focus on the greatest value they bring to their clients: financial planning and advice.
Identity and Dimension
Instead of a “robo on the side” solution, the Jemstep/Orion platform allows advisory firms to maintain their distinct identity while adding new dimensions to their business, Clarke says. “Scale and high tech meet expert advice and decades of financial wisdom,” he says.
Clarke says the platform is unlikely to threaten the RIA business model. “We are seeking to help advisers turn the traditional RIA model on its head,” he says. In that sense, Clarke admits, the old model for a financial adviser’s approach to their business may be dying. “But the adviser has never been in such an advantageous position to provide clients with exemplary service and returns in-line with their bespoke investment approach,” he says.
The platform allows firms to use their own asset models and service offering, and to use multiple offerings to different types of prospects. Known as segmented offers, firms can use the tool to offer a more expensive “high touch” product to wealthier clients. Younger, smaller accounts may opt for the cheaper “high tech” service offering.
Advisers can engage with a wider net of prospective clients on the platform, convert clients with increased speed and efficiency, and bolster retention with automated communication and customized investment solutions. Features include online account opening; marketing automation; real-time client communication via chat; and seamless CRM integration. The platform’s technology syncs with existing back-office functions.
Advisers have told Jemstep that they want a way to leverage technology to expand assets under management (AUM), differentiate their services and efficiently scale their businesses, says Simon Roy, president of Jemstep. The ability of the integrated platform to deliver against that promise by joining Jemstep’s client platform and Orion’s portfolio accounting system is particularly exciting, according to Roy.
“The result is a powerful consolidated platform that provides advisers with a complete end-to-end automated platform for engaging, onboarding, servicing and managing clients,” Roy says.
Orion, in Omaha, is a privately owned portfolio accounting platform. Jemstep, in Los Altos, California, is a technology provider for advisers and broker/dealers.