Advisers want technology that will give them a comprehensive view of a household’s assets so that they can rebalance and deliver goals-based guidance more effectively.
On Thursday, Fiserv, Inc., of Brookfield, Wis., announced a plan to deliver such a solution.
“We are going to be delivering the industry’s first unified managed household technology that supports all the technology components in the front, middle and back office,” said Cheryl Nash, Fiserv’s senior vice president of strategic marketing and product development, investment services.
The technology is aimed at advisors, broker-dealers, sponsors and others, she added. Fiserv has been working toward the solution for some time, said Nash. It reached one milestone in June of 2010, with its acquisition of AdviceAmerica, a provider of integrated financial advice solutions to broker-dealers, independent advisors and insurance companies.
The deal broadened Fiserv’s reach into front-office applications including financial planning, retirement-income planning, customer relationship management and tools for proposal generation and plan monitoring. On May 5, 2011, Fiserv began marketing AdviceAmerica’s solutions as Financial Advice Solutions from Fiserv.
This summer, Fiserv plans to implement a solution that will move managed accounts using mutual fund advisory and exchange-traded funds onto its existing unified managed account platform. The UMA solution now supports third-party managers; Fiserv says the addition of mutual fund advisory capabilities will add functionality to meet the needs of mutual fund wrap programs, including rebalancing across multiple asset classes and making systematic contributions and withdrawals.
The UMA platform will operate as a product-agnostic platform; multi-sleeve accounts will work as they do currently, and traditional separately managed accounts, ETFs, and mutual fund advisory accounts will be set up as a sleeve. The platform will give clients the ability to seamlessly transition from single- to multi-sleeve products, according to Fiserv.
And later this year, Fiserv plans to converge its front-office tools with its middle- and back-office technology. The initiative will integrate its financial advice solutions, portfolio management and trading solutions and performance reporting solutions onto the company’s unified wealth management platform. The platform is to provide a single system where advisers can plan, trade and report.
The convergence of back-, middle- and front-office technology is key to offering a true unified managed household solution, according to Fiserv.
A comprehensive unified managed household technology solution is important to advisers because it promises to raise the sophistication of their services, according to Pirker, senior analyst with Boston-based research firm Aite Group, LLC.
Today, “investment management decisions are taken on a single-account level at best,” said Pirker. Technology of the sort that Fiserv is developing can help advisers make more informed decisions, even if they aren’t involved with 401(k)’s and other investment accounts within a household, he said.
“Take rebalancing retirement assets,” said Pirker. “(A household) might have a couple of different retirement accounts, but one retirement goal.”
Being able to coordinate accounts, even “outside” accounts, plays in to a developing trend in which investors are more interested in meeting life goals rather than beating benchmarks, he added.
At present, unified managed household solutions typically don’t encompass the full range of back-, middle- and front-office technology, said Pirker. Citigroup Inc.’s two-year-old OpenWealth platform and Fiserv’s current effort are steps in the right direction, he said.
“Slowly, we’re getting there,” said Pirker.
Nash said advisers’ demands for “householding” abilities and goals-based investing are behind its current effort.
“We are every much aligned with the vision of managing your household against a goal or a strategy,” she said. And being able to track the goals of multiple accounts provides “a much better view of where you as an adviser need take your (client),” she added.
Fiserv says its convergence is a key building block for a solution that can provide advisers with holistic financial management capabilities for all assets and liabilities of multiple individuals within a household. Advisers will be able to integrate and illustrate investment strategies that take into account the assets of both spouses, across multiple accounts, financial institutions and asset types from qualified retirement accounts to savings to real estate.
Fiserv’s solution also plays into a post-crash desire for simpler financial planning tools “versus a comprehensive 60-page financial plan,” said Nash. “We’re delivering a much more simplistic financial plan, where the adviser and client can sit down and really understand in 15 minutes where they need to go.”