Six firms received InvestmentNews Innovation Awards Wednesday night for their creative and effective approaches to helping advisers run better businesses, improve client outcomes and tackle other planning industry challenges.
The winners were chosen out of a group of 19 finalists by an advisory board made of up of InvestmentNews' Icons and Innovator honorees from 2016 and 2017. The winning firms are Retiree Inc., Envestnet, Whealthcare Planning, RBC Correspondent and Advisor Services, eMoney Advisor, and BNY Mellon's Pershing.
"These companies are using innovative approaches to help advisers solve their greatest challenges and make the most of their opportunities," Fred Gabriel, editorial director of InvestmentNews, said at the awards dinner in New York.
The event, which was attended by about 220 people representing all spheres of the financial advice industry, also honored Sheryl Garrett, the founder of the Garrett Planning Network, as the 2019 InvestmentNews Icon.
Ms. Garrett said she was a bit stunned when she learned she had won the award. At the age of 56, she questioned whether her career merited the type of acknowledgment given in prior years to Icon award winners including Chuck Schwab and Jack Bogle.
"I was speaking with colleagues and said, 'I'm too young for this and hadn't done enough,'" Ms. Garrett said. "Both Chuck Schwab and Jack Bogle had a significant impact on me. I think about the way they democratized investments and brokerage. Someone said to me that I had helped do the same for financial planning and advice, democratize it."
"I've been part of a new discussion about financial planning and serving the middle market, with planning becoming a true profession to serve the masses," Ms. Garrett said. "I am very proud to be part of this conversation and anticipate spending the next couple of decades working to earn this recognition."
Nine of this year's InvestmentNews Innovators also received their awards at the event: Valerie Brown, executive chairwoman of Advisor Group; Eric Clarke, CEO of Orion Advisor Services; Joseph F. Coughlin, director of the MIT AgeLab; Heather Ettinger, founder and CEO of Luma Wealth Advisors; Ted Jenkin, CEO and co-founder of oXYGen Financial Inc.; Rick Kahler, president of Kahler Financial Group; Kunal Kapoor, CEO of Morningstar Inc.; Fielding Miller, co-founder and CEO of Captrust; and John Streur, president and CEO of Calvert Research and Management.
"To paraphrase Jack Welch, change is the oxygen of growth," said Joe Duran, founder and CEO of United Capital. "The entrepreneurs we celebrate as Icons and Innovators are people who embrace change in all its forms, and it's this vision that will carry our industry to new heights."
Mr. Duran, a 2016 Innovator, chaired this year's InvestmentNews Innovation Summit, a business workshop held immediately before the awards dinner.
This was the first year that InvestmentNews recognized firms as part of its annual recognition program highlighting innovation.
Retiree Inc., which won in the retirement solutions category, created the first robo for retirement income, with its IncomeStrategy.com for consumers and IncomeSolver.com for financial advisers. The other finalists in this category were Raymond James Financial and Betterment for Business.
The winner of the investing solutions category was Envestnet for its Quantitative Portfolios, which continue to innovate with new tax overlay services and an eye toward personal investing preferences. The other finalists in this category were TD Ameritrade Institutional and Vestmark.
Whealthcare Planning won the educational materials award with its financial planning resources for advisers to use with aging clients. The other finalists in this category were Chepenik Financial and Heritage Financial Advisory Group.
In the category of adviser fintech and platforms, RBC Correspondent and Advisor Services won for its RBC Black, an adviser platform that fully integrates five independent financial technologies and costs advisers 80% less than if they were to purchase each technology separately. The other finalists in this category were Folio Financial and Morgan Stanley.
Also, eMoney Advisor, one of the earliest financial planning tools that today aggregates $2 trillion in assets and has continued to innovate with automated onboarding, virtual conferences and other offerings, won the adviser fintech category. The other finalists for this category were Impact Financial Systems and United Capital.
Finally, in the practice management category, BNY Mellon's Pershing was recognized for its interactive business benchmarking capabilities. The other finalists for this category were LPL Financial, Charles Schwab and XY Planning Network.
Profiles of all 19 Innovation Award finalists will run in the May 13 Innovation Issue of InvestmentNews.