The WealthManagement.com Industry Award program is the first of its kind to acknowledge excellence among vendors and suppliers serving the financial advisor community.
Delivering outstanding advice to investors requires a strong combination of industry expertise, superior products, top-notch service and innovative technology. The Industry Awards recognize forerunners of innovation and leadership in support of financial advisor success.
Here are the 37 winners of the first-ever WealthManagement.com Industry Awards.
Check out more pictures and details from the awards ceremony using the hashtag #WMAwards on Twitter.
FIDELITY – “Be Greater: Why Being Good Enough is No Longer an Option”
Understanding that advisors want to hear from other advisors, Fidelity published a book written in collaboration with dozens of successful RIA firms and designed to tell the stories of how these firms evolved from a “good enough” practice to a “great” professional firm. The book delivers solid business-building advice, actionable blueprints, and plenty of inspiration—all in a real-world context.
TD AMERITRADE INSTITUTIONAL – Advisor Advocacy Platform
More than most, TD Ameritrade Institutional has been on the front lines when it comes to advocating for RIAs in Washington and beyond. The only custodian with an Office of Advisor Advocacy and an Advocacy Summit, TDAI is making sure that the RIA industry is fully represented in policy and regulatory decisions, and is now expanding those efforts toward developing new talent and ensuring diversity in the industry.
JPMORGAN – Guide to Retirement
For thousands of advisors, the 43-page Guide to Retirement is the reference book for retirement planning—an up-to-date and thorough treatment of Social Security, healthcare costs, inflation, and spending patterns. The book dispels many myths clients believe, and provides facts and figures to steer client conversations. The guide is on track to double its distribution in 2015 to reach an estimated 140,000 wealth management professionals.
PROSHARES – Morningstar ETF
ProShares’ collaboration with Morningstar created a diverse and dynamic set of alternative investment strategies packaged in one single ETF. The goal was to bring sophisticated alternative asset allocations to retail advisors and individual investors in a single sleeve to enhance risk-adjusted returns.
PAX ELLEVATE MANAGEMENT – The Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Index Fund
The Pax Ellevate fund is a unique offering in the rapidly growing world of sustainable investing. It provides a gender-based lens on the markets, with the aim of both fostering and benefitting from businesses that have a significant proportion of women in leadership positions. Pax Ellevate is using the fund with advisors to demonstrate the business case for gender diversity.
CHARLES SCHWAB INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT – Strategic Beta ETFs
Charles Schwab’s unique take on ETFs brings commission-free trades to a suite of cap-weighted and fundamental-index funds that power not only Schwab’s OneSource ETF platform but also its recent Institutional Intelligent Portfolio offering for RIAs. Schwab’s Center for Financial Research provides strong guidance on how RIAs can implement strategic beta strategies.
ENVESTNET/PMC – Quantitative Portfolios
Envestnet’s portfolio consulting group’s Quantitative Portfolios combine the benefits of low-cost, factor-enhanced index investing with the customization and control found in typical SMA structures. Portfolios are constructed quantitatively with tax management and risk assessment being the sole criteria, and are passively managed at low cost to the client.
GUGGENHEIM – Research and Commentary
Global Chief Investment Officer and Chairman of Investments Scott Minerd is widely recognized as one of the reliable go-to authorities on the fixed-income markets. Along with a crack team of economists, strategists and analysts, Guggenheim puts out copious amounts of analysis for advisors. Close to 30,000 subscribe to their thought leadership, with engagement rates that double industry averages.
ENVESTNET – Fund Strategist Network
Envestnet has successfully guided advisors through the world of ETF fund strategists via its Fund Strategist Network, an open-architecture selection of over 1,000 mutual fund/ETF strategist portfolios from close to 90 firms. It uses proprietary research, benchmarking, risk-scoring, and fund groupings to bring clarity to advisors when choosing third-party money managers.
INLAND – Advisor Education
Inland Insights is a dedicated program that educates advisors and clients on the real estate market and the macroeconomic trends driving it, most recently including commercial real estate. They provide client-cleared educational material that drills down into relevant and timely news-driven details that advisors can use in discussion with clients.
MORNINGSTAR – ByAllAccounts
ByAllAccounts now aggregates over $1 trillion of investor assets pulling from 20,000 sources, giving advisors a fuller picture of their clients’ total wealth. Through a revamped interface, ByAllAccounts makes it easier for broker/dealers to embed the new interface on client portals to provide automated investment services.
JEMSTEP – Jemstep Advisor Pro
Jemstep’s automated platform is making it easier for advisors to sign up and service clients, in a paperless process that embeds integration with portfolio accounting systems and CRMs . The service offers the ability to segment clients, uses the RIA’s own portfolios and investing strategies, and helps with marketing via a “drip” email campaign for prospects.
ADVENT – The Black Diamond Investor Experience
Black Diamond’s new client portal is customizable by the advisor to individual clients or client type. Responsively designed and mobile-friendly, the portal comes with a secure vault for document transfers, and a data engine that lets advisors proactively notify clients with individualized communications—whether it be a new 1099 or a message around a portfolio-specific event to only those clients affected. Advent brought some 20 advisory firms into the process of designing the portal to ensure it met their needs.
SMARSH – Compliance Platform
Regulations around client communications burden every advisor, but Smarsh’s platform makes it painless—or at least as close as possible. The platform supports content supervision across all electronic communications and archives everything in a searchable, cloud-based system that allows for easy reviews and safeguarding procedures.
JUNXURE – Junxure Cloud
Junxure is a CRM designed for an advisor’s individual workflow and process, from onboarding to tracking contacts for marketing and compliance purposes. The system has deep custodial integrations and is customizable to adapt to an advisor’s way of working.
LASERFICHE – Laserfiche Platform
Laserfiche addresses many pain points advisors have in document management. The platform captures and retains all communications, provides ongoing security checks, and gives auditors instant access to the material, easing time-sucking burdens on the advisor. It automatically populates client data and streamlines review times via instant access to a digital repository. Built-in digital signatures allow e-signing documents even on mobile devices.
SUNGARD – CompAct
Sitting within SunGard’s WealthStation Financial Planning suite, CompAct lets advisors produce holistic, goal-based plans with an interactive portal that more easily brings the client into a conversation around planning. It uses charts and summary tables to illustrate topics from accumulation, asset allocation, debt management, education funding, life insurance and retirement, helping to simplify complex information and make it more meaningful to the client.
EMONEY – emX
eMoney aggregates more than $1.4 trillion in assets. Its new wealth management platform brings much more functionality to the account aggregation and management tool, helping advisors with cash-flow management, goals-based and estate planning, and client-facing tools like screen-sharing and compliance-approved messaging.
ADVENT – Black Diamond Integration Network
Moreso than other firms, Advent added flexibility and a focus on advisor preference to their wealth management platform with a suite of integrations, officially launched in 2014. The network boasts an open architecture to work with different CRMs, multicustodial rebalancing tools, portfolio analytics, and financial planning platforms, some of which compete with Black Diamond itself, all to more easily accommodate the variety of advisory business models.
TD AMERITRADE INSTITUTIONAL – iRebal
TDAI unveiled a new version of iRebal in the cloud, bringing more flexibility to the popular rebalancing tool that’s freely available to some 5,000 advisors who custody with TDAI. The tool brings real sophistication to rebalancing, streamlining the process across all accounts while considering unique individual client circumstances. IRebal uses real-time valuations and positions, efficiently manages cash for reinvestment or distribution, and features straight-through trades, thus reducing cost and complexity.
ALBRIDGE – Albridge Wealth Reporting
A recent redesign of the platform created a more user-friendly experience with what was already a robust reporting tool. Albridge provides a consolidated view of all client assets, works with over 130 financial institutions and over 80,000 advisors, and collects data on over 4 million accounts. Advisors easily drill down to household account levels, create engaging reports around numerous variables—including benchmarks and fees—and calculate both time-weighted and dollar-weighted performance.
BETTERMENT INSTITUTIONAL – Institutional Platform
Betterment brought its consumer-facing automated portfolios to financial advisors via a white-labeled version, and now advocates for the new “robo” technology to complement advisors, not replace them. Paperless onboarding, automatic brokerage services, low-cost portfolios, tax-loss harvesting, and net-trades that reduce bid-ask spreads dramatically lower fees for asset management in a fiduciary offering that lets advisors concentrate on clients, not accounts.
LIVE OAK BANK – Live Oak Lending
Many companies facilitate growth among independent advisors, but Live Oak found a niche injecting much-needed liquidity into the space. It’s funding acquisitions, expansions and breakaways; the bank loans are backed by projected cash flow, not tangible assets, putting it on the side of entrepreneurial advisors.
RAYMOND JAMES – Practice Intelligence Model
Practice management is a spongy concept, but the offering here is different. It’s informed by the best practices of the firm’s top advisors, with processes put into actionable steps. It’s a one-stop resource for all of the firms’ material across every facet of running a practice, and includes a sophisticated benchmarking tool to help advisors find their own pain points—and then the relevant solutions on the platform.
MERRILL LYNCH – Merrill Lynch One
In August 2014, Merrill Lynch completed the rollout of this managed account platform, ending a multiyear, $100-million initiative to bring together disparate products, systems, websites and services into a single platform that supported the firm’s objective of moving to a goals-based planning and relationship-based pricing model with its clients. The development team started with a clean slate, not building off of legacy platforms, and relied on extensive advisor feedback to guide the process.
CETERA – 90/90 Plan
Cetera’s transition team is led by a 10-person staff dedicated solely to assisting transitioning advisors bring over their books of business as seamlessly as possible. The team acts as project manager, trainer and operations personnel to the advisor’s office. Customized transition paths eliminate bad paperwork and reduce the need to repeatedly burden the client or the advisor, ensuring advisors bring over 90 percent of their book in 90 days or less.
FIRST ALLIED – Pentameter
First Allied punches above its weight when it comes to practice management resources. The Pentameter system is based on five criteria for advisor success: development, efficiency, human capital, management, and succession planning. A diagnostic tool shows the firm’s pain points, the platform assigns action steps and specific tasks, and a dedicated member from First Allied’s business consulting team helps keep advisors on track.
BETTERMENT INSTITUTIONAL – Betterment Institutional Platform
Betterment Institutional gives advisors a brokerage relationship that handles all customer onboarding and account maintenance, collects fees and distributes payments, and manages all execution, including rebalancing and tax-loss harvesting. Lower fees are aided by net trades to eliminate bid-ask spreads, and the firm does not pay for order flow on the exchanges.
PROSPERA FINANCIAL SERVICES – Gold Standard Service Program
Prospera has put a laser-like focus on making sure its staff is responsive, proactive, and provides the firm’s advisors with impeccable service. An initial boot camp has been followed by weekly meetings. Staff members are trained in the “gold standard” service model across all interactions with advisors, with a mandate that there is no defensiveness in business and that all complaints are a gift—“Without them, we cannot get better.”
PROSPERA FINANCIAL SERVICES – Turnkey Transition System
Prospera’s attention to detail for transitioning advisors is reflected in the Launch Your Way protocol. It’s designed to guide a broker through every step, from finding space and negotiating leases to naming the firm, filing licenses, designing logos, and even hiring sales assistants. Every step is loaded into a digital timeline so nothing is missed, and a dedicated transition team is on hand for support.
CHARLES SCHWAB – OpenView Gateway
Schwab’s OpenView Gateway seamlessly stiches together all the tools an investment advisor needs, using an open-architecture platform for flexibility in adapting to the advisor’s technology preference. More than 6,000 users from 1,400 firms use OpenView Gateway.
CHARLES SCHWAB – Executive Leadership Program
Recognizing that the majority of independent advisors want to create a legacy business, in 2014 Schwab introduced an executive leadership program for advisors destined to become principals in their firms. The program runs for one year and is based on curricula from top-tier universities. Students participate in weekly group discussions and benefit from in-person meetings and ongoing executive coaching.
CUNA MUTUAL GROUP – Advisor Planning Tool
Cuna’s risk-management tool is an iPad-optimized web-based application that lets advisors visually demonstrate to clients a “zone” of risk/reward metrics aligned with investment goals using the firm’s MEMBERS Zone annuity. The tool uses graphics to demonstrate hypothetical outcomes, thereby clarifying the retirement conversation.
HIGHTOWER – BluePrint For Growth
Hightower’s program highlights characteristics of top-performing financial advisory practices, based on internal studies and interviews with Hightower teams. The first benchmarking study identified key areas where top teams excel, giving firms a benchmark and a methodical approach to growth.
HEARSAY SOCIAL – Predictive Social Suite
The new platform from Hearsay Social lets advisors identify cross-channel client activity across multiple online and digital channels, including social media and websites. Through machine-learning algorithms and predictive technology, the platform recommends the right content (from its built-in Predictive Content Library), and encourages the advisor to share it with the right person at the right time.
WADDELL & REED – Advisor Platform
The brokerage firm has one of the most sophisticated social media platforms out there, with a robust training component for advisors. Working with social media firm Socialware and focusing—for now—on LinkedIn, the platform helps advisors with content creation, sharing with clients, analytics and compliance.
ENVESTNET – Wealth Management Platform
Envestnet’s cloud-based wealth management platform arms advisors with access to over 14,000 investment vehicles, including 1,200 SMA strategies, over 1,000 mutual fund and ETF strategists, and a UMA program containing more than 800 SMA models, including an advisor-managed sleeve. At the end of 2014, Envestnet managed or advised $172 billion in managed account assets.
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