Below is the May edition of the Fintech Report Card, a monthly piece by Riskalyze CEO Aaron Klein originally published in WealthManagement.com.
Welcome to the May edition of the Riskalyze Fintech Review, where Riskalyze CEO Aaron Klein gives you the thumbs up or thumbs down on the biggest pieces of news to hit advisor technology in the last month. Failing to read this piece may be the riskiest move of all!
WannaCry Ransomware Locks More Than 300,000 Computers in 150 Countries
What happened: The ransomware cyberattack that struck computers in over 150 countries held nearly 300,000 computers hostage. Users were locked out of their data and forced to pay a $300 bitcoin ransom to retrieve it. The cyberattack was slowed after a few days, but it’s estimated that the hackers collected about $32,000 in bitcoin before the attack was stopped.
Why it matters: There are two types of advisors who saw this dreaded red lock screen in May. One advisor has the most pertinent data in reputable, cloud-based fintech. The other keeps critical records on local spreadsheets. If I were in the latter category, I’d “wanna cry” for sure. It doesn’t look like this sort of cyberattacks are slowing down anytime soon, so advisors are going to have to be vigilant about fintech solutions that don’t let hackers wipe out client data.
Envestnet Announces Business Analytics Tool for Advisors
What happened: Envestnet announced at its annual Advisor Summit that it would expand its analytics offerings to help advisors develop more valuable business intelligence. The features will include fee analytics, which lets advisory firms compare fees at the account level and to the industry as a whole to measure competitiveness.
Why it matters: Not only will this data benefit advisors by helping them remain competitive, it’ll benefit their clients as well. I’m sure the advisors who use Envestnet’s platforms are going to be big fans of these new features.
RBC Creates New Advisor Platform with Third-Party Integrations
What happened: RBC Capital Markets launched a new wealth management platform that integrates several third-party providers. Dubbed BLACK, the platform integrates services from five fintech providers and is available across several devices to clients of RBC’s clearing and custody network.
Why it matters: RBC pulled together five great fintech products into a single integrated platform, and Riskalyze is excited to be one of them. Integrating the Risk Number with CRM and planning tools is a recipe for success, and the connectivity here will make for some happy advisors in the RBC network.
SoFi Introduces Robo Platform for Young Investors
What happened: Social Finance, the online lender known as SoFi, launched robo wealth management platform SoFi Wealth to branch out beyond its core student loan business. SoFi is the latest robo to offer assistance from a call center if a young investor needs guidance. “For those who haven’t started investing, like younger professionals who make up a large part of the SoFi member base,” said John Gardner, general manager at SoFi Wealth, “that guidance from a live advisor can help give them the confidence they need to start planning for a lifetime of financial success.”
Why it matters: SoFi rose to prominence by offering a quick, technology-centric way to consolidate loans at a more favorable rate. On one hand, they have a stronger hand to play than Wealthfront or Betterment, because they have distribution built in from their popular student loan business. On the other hand, I predict they’ll find it tough to build a real business here. How big of a conflict is it to advise students with debt to put money into the markets instead of paying down debt?
Cyber Security ETFs See Surge After WannaCry Cyberattack
What happened: Software security services saw surges in the market on speculation the exposed weaknesses may trigger a surge in security spending. Pierre Ferragu, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., wrote, “the opinion of enterprise decision makers is heavily influenced by such events, and this one is likely to support spending decisions.” In the wake of WannaCry, the PureFunds ETF, or HACK, jumped more than 3 percent to its highest point in six months, and FireEye Inc gained nearly 7 percent.
Why it matters: In big events like the WannaCry attacks, there are bound to be winners and losers, and it looks like the cybersecurity industry is seeing dollar signs right now. Markets aside, it seems that cybersecurity keeps moving up on the list of things you should consider in your practice. In my opinion, that’s a good thing.
WeInvest and InvestCloud Partner Up to Expand Robo-Advisory Services in Asia
What happened: WeInvest, a Singapore-based robo platform, partnered with global fintech firm InvestCloud in an effort to expand its platform throughout Asia. WeInvest offers direct-to-consumer as well as B2B solutions for Asian banks, wealth managers, and asset managers. The partnership with InvestCloud’s digital platform allows Asian asset managers to roll out their own services combining WeInvest’s robo technology with InvestCloud’s back-end platform.
Why it matters: It’s clear that the direct-to-consumer robo seeds that have tried to take root in the United States and the UK are about to blow their way across Asia. In the US, robos have been unsuccessful so far in their attempt to take significant market share from financial advisors. While the Asian market is clearly different, I’m not seeing how the direct-to-consumer strategy fares any better there. B2B has a bright future, though, especially in the banking channel.
CFA Exams Including Fintech in 2019
What happened: Data analytics tools and advisory platforms are set to become part of the CFA exams beginning in 2019. Some fintech is already taught in the curriculum, but the CFA exams will introduce new content about various fintech categories in a new series of introductory readings. David Schatsky, a managing director at Deloitte who is responsible for analyzing emerging technology and business trends, said it makes sense that the CFA Institute is placing a greater emphasis on fintech. “Artificial intelligence is transforming every field, none more so than finance,” Schatsky said. “A growing number of tasks that previously only people could perform are now being done, and done well, by computers.”
Why it matters: It’s great to see the CFA Institute placing emphasis on practical platforms in use today. Teaching openly about the future of automation in the lives of a financial professional will likely increase confidence that fintech serves to elevate the practitioners. Fintech isn’t here to replace you; it’s here to make you better.
Aaron Klein is CEO at Riskalyze.
Editors note: The views expressed in this column are Aaron Klein’s, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Wealthmanagement.com.
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