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Digital advice for HNW clients gains RIA support

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For a platform that can deliver tailored service to select clients, even RIAs are willing to invest in digital advice.

With its focus on the high-net-worth client through multistrategy management, InvestmentPOD set out to distinguish its white labeled platform for advisors from automated passive, buy-and-hold offerings.

Jacqueline Ko Matthews, CEO and co-founder of InvestmentPOD, now has the backing of three prominent advisory firms attached to ScratchWorks, an advisor tech accelerator: Mariner Wealth Advisors, Covenant, and Brighton Jones.

Terms of the funding agreement were not disclosed. But with the potential for use by over 100 advisors spread across these firms, the platform is expected to quickly grow from its current $40 million in assets.

“Wealthy investors have the same requirements as all investors in this age of Amazon,” Matthews says. “The challenge for advisors to bring this level of advice and yet stay streamlined and efficient is double fold.”

The platform’s ability to customize strategies at a single client level was very attractive to Mariner, says Marty Bicknell, the advisory firm’s chief executive.

Bicknell, an investor in several fintech and advisor tech platforms including data aggregator Quovo, says he welcomed the opportunity to help fine-tune InvestmentPOD.

“Having the ability to have our fingerprint on what that looks like, providing access to real life advisors and client experience is really what interests me,” he says.

Bicknell says another motivation to invest is that for all the attention paid to digital advice, “it really hasn’t moved very much,” for advisors. The market remains fragmented, he says, since most platforms face an uphill battle to secure RIA firms' buy-in.

Another motivation to invest, he adds, reflects a wider industry imperative to improve operational efficiency.

“In general RIAs are effective but very inefficient,” Bicknell says. “If the average advisor can handle 75 households, wouldn’t that be great for the consumer if we could take that 100 by increasing the efficiency of advice delivery?”

With a focus on advisors and on serving more wealthy clients, Bicknell expects the platform to fare better than many retail investor-focused robo advisors, a market unsettled by the recent shuttering of Hedgeable's robo advice offering.

Matthews says that with the new funding and additional advisor exposure, InvestmentPOD will work toward a broader growth strategy.

She hopes to appeal to advisors currently on custodian-supported platforms.

“As an independent, third party technology platform, we believe we have a much more transparent platform that is agnostic,” she says. “We do not have any retail offerings, so we continue to avoid the channel conflicts that can arise with a retail-custodian platform.”

She adds her platform is already working with multiple model marketplaces and technology platforms to integrate their strategies as options for advisors to choose from.

“We are truly open architecture,” she says.

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