TIAA-owned robo MyVest automates middle-office tasks

Daily reconciliation tool is added to platform for trading, performance, reporting and billing

Dec 13, 2017 @ 4:00 pm

By Ryan W. Neal

MyVest, the business-to-business robo-adviser owned by TIAA, has a new technology suite to digitize common middle-office tasks.

The update brings automated daily reconciliation to MyVest's enterprise wealth management platform, Strategic Portfolio System (SPS). This is integrated with the same database that powers SPS's core functions like trading, performance measurement, reporting and billing.

"In an environment where margins are under constant strain, improving operational efficiency is imperative," MyVest CEO Anton Honikman said in a statement. "Our goal is to help firms dramatically scale their middle-office operations, and the best way to do that is by enabling efficiency and risk reduction through digital tools."

He added that automating daily trade reconciliation, corporate actions processing and cash management "allow us to accurately calculate daily performance, which in turn makes the production of reporting and billing easier compared to those who rely on a monthly or quarterly fire drill."

GROWING TREND

The launch is part of a growing trend in wealth management to automate adviser workflows.

Kyle Tuskey, the chief operating officer of Deep Systems, a firm that provides operational and IT services, said there's increasing demand from firms of all sizes for automation of middle-office tasks. Mr. Tuskey said advisers react to news headlines like regulatory changes and robo-advisers by bolting on technology vendors, creating a "hodgepodge solution that are not really fit for the problem they are solving" rather than something integrated.

"Custodians are going to solve their portion of the problem … in the back-office side, sure," Mr. Tuskey said. "On a full operational level, I don't think they're there."

Sam McIngvale, head of innovation at Apex Clearing, said MyVest's offering continues an industry trend that firms like Apex already support by providing outsourcing services to advisers. However, Mr. McIngvale said, Apex does not offer middle-office outsourcing.

BUDDING PARTNERSHIP

TIAA partnered with MyVest in 2009 on investment and tax management services before acquiring the technology in 2016 to develop digital advice and financial planning products across TIAA's products, including banking and retirement plans. In June, TIAA introduced a robo-adviser powered by MyVest to offer clients automated access to active, passive and socially responsible mutual funds and exchange-traded funds.

The New York attorney general subpoenaed TIAA in November following a whistleblower complaint alleging the 100-year-old firm pressured employees to sell unsuitable products. A spokesperson for MyVest said the technology provider operates as an individual entity and is not involved in the case.

MyVest also works with large RIAs like Personal Capital, which uses MyVest technology to power a hybrid robo-adviser with $4.3 billion of assets under management as of May 2017. Personal Capital did not respond to questions asking if it would use the new automated middle-office features.

(More: 5 robo-advisers with the most client assets.)

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