Fintech Bytes: Morgan Stanley at Work, Vestwell and Redtail updates
Additionally, BNY Mellon invests in a fixed-income fintech and Broadridge partners with IntraFi on securities-backed lending.
With the collapse of FTX and fears of contagion in the rest of the digital asset market, it has been a tough month for cryptocurrency speculators.
Bitcoin fell 16.3% in November, its worst monthly performance since June, according to data from CryptoCompare. Traditional indexes like the S&P 500 and Nasdaq achieved positive returns during the same time.
Former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried has agreed to testify before Congress, but FTX is just the tip of the issues facing crypto exchanges. Shares of Coinbase tumbled Friday after Japanese banking firm Mizuho cut its rating, and Crypto.com CEO Kris Marszalek is trying to assure investors that his exchange is unthreatened by asking them to ignore his previous businesses that ended in collapse.
None of this is new or surprising for anyone who’s followed the crypto economy for longer than the boom of the last few years. Even the publications claiming to offer independent coverage of crypto are rife with conflicts of interest. But I would love to hear what financial advisers are thinking, or what you’re hearing from clients. Send your questions or comments to my email or hit me up on Twitter.
In the meantime, here’s a roundup of some of the week’s fintech news for your weekend reading.
MORGAN STANLEY AT WORK ANNOUNCES TECH ENHANCEMENTS
Updates to Morgan Stanley at Work, the firm’s equity compensation business, focus on fractional shares, personalized videos, automated translation and vested share gifting for corporate clients and plan participants. Employers using Shareworks can now enable plan participants to transfer vested shares to family, friends or charities, while those using Equity Edge Online can use fractional shares to avoid funding tax consequences out of pocket.
Workplace retirement continues to be a major area of investment for Morgan Stanley, which entered the space in 2019 with the $900 million purchase of Solium. CEO James Gorman singled out the business in April as a growth opportunity for the firm, and it will be interesting to see where Morgan Stanley at Work goes in 2023.
VESTWELL ROLLS OUT UPGRADES
Digital record keeper Vestwell announced several upgrades that the company says improve the most common processes of financial advisers, third-party administrators, asset managers, employers and savers. Vestwell can now connect to any custodian, and a new digital architecture allows workplace and individual savings programs to run on a single dashboard. Payroll corrections can now be made in real time, and participants can withdraw funds in two business days rather than a week.
I’ve long been a fan of Vestwell’s efforts to push retirement savings into the 21st century. Every financial adviser knows how behind the times legacy record keepers are, but the experience is even worse for everyday investors. It shouldn’t be difficult or confusing for anyone to figure out the most optimal way to save for retirement, and any improvement that helps financial advisers offer a stress-free alternative to clients should be applauded.
REDTAIL UPDATES DOCUMENT STORAGE
Imaging, the document storage product offered by client relationship management fintech Redtail, is receiving new licensing options, a redesigned user interface and the ability to restore deleted files.
The Securities and Exchange Commission issued a record $6.4 billion in fines in 2022, with a significant amount related to brokerages’ failures to archive text messages. Redtail’s updates are designed to make it easier for advisers to comply with record retention requirements.
BNY MELLON INVESTS IN BONDIT
Credit and analytics and fixed-income fintech bondIT received $14 million in an investment round led by BNY Mellon, bringing its total investment to $38 million. The fintech uses machine learning to automate and optimize fixed-income portfolio construction, management and research.
Asset managers see technology as a way to bring in new revenue as falling markets reduce fees from core investment clients. Investing in technology like bondIT to give investment firms a differentiated way to approach fixed income can act as a competitive advantage for BNY Mellon.
BROADRIDGE OFFERS SECURITIES-BASED LENDING
IntraFi, which manages a bank deposit network, partnered with Broadridge Financial Solutions to provide banks, brokerage firms and wealth managers access to securities-backed lending. IntraFi will provide Broadridge technology to its network members to help grow their SBL business, and those members will be able to offer loans to broker-dealers and RIAs through the Broadridge Wealth Lending network.
The companies say demand for SBLs are steadily growing among high-net-worth investors, but the market volatility of 2022 provides a good example of how risky these products can be. Advisers should definitely do their homework on the products before recommending them to clients.
WEALTHCARE CAPITAL CONNECTS WITH A QUARTEt OF FINTECHS
Wealthcare Capital, a registered investment adviser that supports independent advisers, has new partnerships with fintech companies Tifin Clout, Healthpilot, RetireOne and OneTrust. Tifin Clout is an AI-enabled digital marketing platform, while Healthpilot gives Wealthcare advisers a platform for having Medicare conversations with clients. RetireOne provides a lifetime income solution and OneTrue brings home equity into the retirement planning conversation.
Wealthcare’s approach to technology integrations is something that will likely become much more common across the investment industry. Most firms — though certainly not all — have embraced modern portfolio management, risk analytics, financial planning and CRM. But bringing services like health care funding and home equity into the financial planning conversation will be paramount for firms trying to offer “holistic wealth management.”
LINQTO PARTNERS WITH FARTHER
Farther, a digital wealth management firm, is giving its employee advisers access to Linqto, a private markets investment technology. Farther’s advisers can use Linqto to research and invest in private companies with minimum investments of $10,000 while avoiding some of the brokerage, management and performance fees that often come with traditional private equity or venture capital funds.
Farther closed $15 million in Series A funding in August with a strategy of recruiting RIAs with a compelling proprietary platform and integrations to support unique investment opportunities they can’t get elsewhere. Partnerships with companies like Linqto are key to that strategy.
‘IN the Nasdaq’ with Rachel Weker, senior retirement strategist at T. Rowe Price
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