SEI partners with Advizr to ease financial planning for advisers

Companies hope to break down the barriers preventing advisers from embracing planning at their firms

Oct 25, 2018 @ 2:53 pm

By Ryan W. Neal

SEI Advisor Network is making it easier for the 7,500 advisers it serves to offer financial planning through a new partnership with fintech firm Advizr.

SEI plans to integrate Advizr's interactive, client-directed financial planning tool into the automated workflows SEI has been implementing for financial advisers. Advisers can add Advizr's financial planning modules to their client portals and invite clients to start creating plans on their own time. The tools can also be added into the adviser website, allowing prospects to register with the firm and begin creating a plan.

The information that clients provide will feed directly into the SEI turnkey asset management platform, and Advizr will pull in SEI's capital markets assumptions, model portfolios and other investment capabilities. Throughout the process, the tool will give clients the option to speak to an SEI adviser, or they may continue the process all the way through opening a new account online.

Hussain Zaidi, Advizr co-founder and CEO, said the integration with SEI's TAMP allows the advisory firm to "automate not just the investment side, but the planning side as well."

(More: SEI has new approach to improve technology adoption by advisers)

Shifting the burden of data collection over to clients, Advizr makes it easier for advisers to develop and deliver efficient financial plans to clients, said Raef Lee, head of new services and strategic partnerships at Independent Advisor Solutions by SEI, a strategic business unit of SEI. It will be especially useful for "firms that have not done much financial planning before and are just getting into that sort of space," he said.

Will Trout, head of wealth management at research firm Celent, said it makes sense for SEI to partner with digital-first platforms like Advizr to bolster its suite of front-end tools.

"Advizr stands out among planning tools due to its ability to offer easy-to-digest plans through technology that embeds portfolio management into the planning process, a vision which is very much aligned to the unitary and highly efficient SEI wealth platform model," Mr. Trout said in an email. "Also, Advizr stands out from the financial planning tech-provider pack in terms of the support it provides advisers, [including] training on the platform, analytics and coaching. As such it offers immediate benefits to the dedicated suite of advisers who use SEI as their asset management and core tech provider."

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As market volatility increases, firms like SEI are looking at financial planning as a way to hold on to clients and assets in the event of an extended bear market. SEI, though, has been offering financial planning for "a fair amount of time," Mr. Lee said. The company also has a partnership with MoneyGuidePro.

"We want to broaden out," he said. "SEI has decided to definitely not create our own financial planning for clients. As advice changes ... working with a company like Advizr gives us more flexibility and different types of advice we can offer."

But for many advisers, offering financial planning is still too difficult.

At the 2018 T3 Enterprise conference, Fiserv product manager of adviser solutions Igor Jonjic presented data on why advisers still don't offer planning. According to his firm's research, 73% of advisers said the process is too time-consuming, and 70% said preparing a new plan for clients is long and tedious. Advisers also cited cumbersome technology that doesn't integrate well with other systems as a major roadblock.

(More: MoneyGuidePro is breaking down financial planning into blocks)

According to a survey of 542 SEI advisers, only 41% view financial planning as core to the firm's value, and 26% said finding the right technology to create plans with clients was their biggest challenge.

By using Advizr's self-directed tools and automatic data flow with the TAMP and custodian platform, Mr. Lee said it will remove much of work involved for advisers and expedite the entire planning process.

"This self-directed technology is key for helping advisers create effective adviser- and consumer-driven planning," Mr. Lee said in a statement.

The announcement comes on the heels of SEI rebranding its turnkey asset management platform and custodial business to Independent Advisor Solutions.

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