Tax-focused independent broker-dealer HD Vest has grown its still-new portfolio management tool, which launched in October of last year, to over $700 million in assets under management.

“What’s been unique about this particular [model portfolio] program … is we allow our advisors to customize it based on their clients’ needs,” says Roger Ochs, president and CEO of the Irving, Texas-based broker-dealer. “It gives advisors the freedom to do that.”

The tool, called VestAdvisor Select, has been a key selling point as the rapidly growing firm continues to attract tax specialists to its network of nearly 5,000 advisors. The broker-dealer encourages and educates its tax specialists to provide more comprehensive financial planning to their clients.

Advisors who are new to the network go through three-day programs to provide an initial formal training in financial planning, according to Ochs. However, he adds, many of them are already familiar with the information being presented by virtue of having thriving tax practices of many years’ standing. Going forward, HD Vest advisors take part in regular continuing education programs, he adds.

“We share with [advisors] that they can make a great living not only on the tax side, but by really being able to deliver pure financial advice,” Ochs says. HD Vest helps its advisors counsel their clients on core planning tasks such as helping them put their kids through college and making sure they have the right insurance in place.

“That’s a much more rewarding practice” than providing just tax advice, according to Ochs. “And they can get paid for that.”

The portfolio tool, he says, helps advisors develop sophisticated, automated investment solutions for their clients, but that they can customize as needed.

“Our portfolio management team handles all the rebalancing to get [customer accounts] back to target” on a regular basis, typically quarterly, according to Ochs. “This then frees our advisors to spend more time with their clients. That’s why we’ve had such rapid growth.”

The broker-dealer describes the tool’s unique offering as a “dual discretion” approach to asset management, according to a statement from HD Vest.

In this model, HD Vest’s portfolio management team establishes initial investment models focused on specific client goals. Depending on their clients’ needs, individual advisors can then choose to either completely align with the team’s selections for any of the models they use or substitute up to 100% of the portfolio.

Regardless of the mix of choices, HD Vest’s home office helps to manage the customized portfolios, according to the statement.

This structure creates a partnership between the company’s centralized portfolio management team and advisors, the firm claims. It also enables clients to benefit from the full spectrum of the firm’s investment expertise, according to the statement.

“It’s helping provide solutions for advisors from basic financial planning concepts to very sophisticated ones,” Ochs says.

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