Lex Sokolin, partner and chief operating officer of Vanare, a wealth management technology vendor with institutional robo-adviser NestEgg, is stepping down from his post to join a London-based independent research firm, he confirmed.
In his new role, Mr. Sokolin will focus on global financial technology. He cannot yet disclose the name of the firm yet, he said. Mr. Sokolin will remain involved with Vanare as a shareholder and member of the Board of Directors.
"I am still dedicated and committed to Vanare — it feels like my first baby," Mr. Sokolin said. "I spent the last year just really talking and getting into what's happening in the financial ecosystem and what's happening in technology ... I am focusing on that interest now."
Ken Manning, a technology veteran most recently with mobile design company Reimagine, has succeeded Mr. Sokolin as head of product for Vanare as of July 1, he said.
Mr. Manning has worked as an adviser and investor for various technology companies, including Monday Envelope, a communication tool for parent teacher groups, and WeShelter, an app to raise money to house the homeless. He was a senior manager and product strategist for companies such as Razorfish, a digital marketing agency, eMachines, a computer vendor, and Soundtracker, a music app.
"Looking across this sector, there is a ton left to do in terms of digitization," Mr. Manning said in a phone interview.
Mr. Sokolin, who was in this year's InvestmentNews 40 Under 40 Class, has become the poster child for the future of technology in the wealth management industry. Most recently, he has been hosting conference sessions to discuss disruptive digital trends that will one day impact advisers, such as image recognition software and wearable technology. Mr. Sokolin co-founded NestEgg, a business-to-business robo-adviser, in 2010, after working at Lehman Brothers as an investment management analyst during the 2008 financial crisis. In 2014, Vanare acquired NestEgg.
Since then, Mr. Sokolin and Rich Cancro, chief executive of Vanare, have been building out robo-adviser technologies, including Roboadviser DNA, an open architecture platform to customize automated investment advice. In May, Pershing chose Vanare as one of three robo-advisers to partner with for digital advice.
At his new job, Mr. Sokolin will focus on how technology changes the way the entire financial services industry works. His research of financial technology will include digital advice, blockchain, artificial intelligence and augmented reality, and span outside of investing to credit, payment and other issues within the broader financial services spectrum.
"I've seen firsthand the transformational impact of innovation and technology when that intersects with financial services, and the barriers to it from the inside," Mr. Sokolin wrote in a Medium blog post. "If we succeed in showing the value of innovation to those allocating billions of investment dollars into the industry's future, then this decision to leave my day-to-day post at Vanare will have been worthwhile."