Betterment RIA arm upgrades features, poaches exec

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Betterment is beefing up its offering to RIAs with new functionality and additional executive leadership.

Planners on the Betterment for Advisors platform can now initiate and complete a retirement account rollover on behalf of their clients in a completely paperless process, the firm says. Where supported by the custodian, the process will take no more than one minute, according to the firm.

“We took a hard look at the data available to us in terms of the incidents of rollovers and looked at where advisors were previously not able to take action on behalf of clients,” says Cara Reisman, director of Betterment for Advisors. “We want advisors to ultimately take the lead.”

Specifically, the process can rollover IRAs and 401(k)s, including Roth, traditional and SEP IRAs. “Wherever possible, in terms of when the existing custodian supports our paperless process, the advisor can now walk clients through that process,” Reisman says.

Retail clients had the ability to use the paperless rollover process, but now advisors will be able to add additional value and help clients manage their retirement accounts more effectively, without having to involve the client, she says.

The unit is also adding an experienced fintech exectuive to help increase its RIA business outreach.

Jorge Alvarez, co-founder and former chief marketing officer of financial planning software firm Advizr, will lead Betterment’s marketing operations for both business-to-business lines, Betterment for Advisors and Betterment for Business.

"I’m extremely excited to join a company as influential and disruptive as Betterment, and very much look forward to working with both B2B teams to contribute to the company’s continued success in the wealth management industry," Alvarez says about the move.

Advizr CEO Hussain Zaidi said that Alvarez "parted ways on good terms and we wish him the best.

Betterment for Advisors currently has 400 clients, according to a company spokeswoman. The firm does not break down assets under management, but is currently managing $14.5 billion among its retail and business-to-business segments.

In March, Betterment installed new capabilities for advisors using the platform in order to give them more control of their clients’ account — something that advisors had long requested. Called Flexible Portfolio, the feature gave advisors direct control over class weights within the Betterment core portfolio and provides exposure to international and domestic REITs and high-yield corporate bonds that were previously unavailable.

“We’re excited to take one of our platform’s greatest strengths — our streamlined backoffice — and enhance it by enabling advisors to play a stronger role in one of its key processes,” Reisman says.

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