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Junxure promises acquisition will improve its software

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All 12,000 users of Junxure are getting a personal note of reassurance from CEO Greg Friedman this morning after the popular CRM software firm announced it is being acquired by New York-based AdvisorEngine.

“A lot of customers bought Junxure because of word of mouth, or because they know me personally,” Freidman says. “So I’m communicating to them that I understand the uncertainty that this news creates, and asked that they allow us the opportunity to show them how really pleased they will be.”

As competition in the advisor technology space increases, independent brands have been scooped up by larger entities, such as Envestnet's recent acquisition of competitor FolioDynamix. In Junxure’s case, Friedman says that the acquisition will only improve the software’s offering.

“AdvisorEngine killed it with their user interface, and that’s an opportunity,” Friedman says. “Advisors struggle with adopting technology. They get excited about it because it’s going to solve problems. But then it is incredibly hard to adopt and implement. You don’t need a Ph.D. to run this platform. That’s a huge promise.”

Friedman will retain a role advising on strategy for Junxure, but says he will focus more on growing his San Francisco Bay Area-based RIA business, Private Ocean.

Friedman acknowledges he and Rich Cancro, AdvisorEngine’s founder and CEO, had been in discussions about a potential deal for some time. Both executives say the deal was cemented on preserving the customer service culture of Junxure.

“In a competitive marketplace, product is a horse race,” Friedman says. “But if you can consistently be there and answer the phones when they ring, you’re different. That’s true in virtually every industry. That’s the culture of Junxure.”

Despite 2017’s big deals in the advisor tech space, Friedman expects there will be a cooling off of M&A activity this year. "I think firms are going to focus more on implementation," he says. "There's been a lot promised."

The deal is AdvisorEngine’s latest acquisition after it rebranded itself from Vanare in November 2016. Cancro says that while there are ongoing discussions, no other deals are imminent for his enterprise technology firm. In a year, AdvisorEngine has grown from just four employees to more than 80.

Cancro adds the platform is not in competition with enterprise offerings from custodians, many of whom are now offering their own RIA-focused platforms. “We have great partnerships with a number of custodians,” he says. “Nothing could be further from my mind.”

Cancro says the addition of Junxure will allow AdvisorEngine’s platform to better integrate with other third-party software, and provide it a deeper data set to help advisors at every stage of wealth management. The CRM represents “the gold standard of advisor-built software,” he says. “From its capabilities, it’s obvious that an advisor built it for other advisors.”

Looking ahead in 2018, Cancro says independent advisors will need to invest in full-featured platforms to grow scale and assets as well as to promote their businesses, as the wealth management space continues to add competition from banks and non-traditional players.

“The independent advisor is going to have to pivot, from being really good at referrals to being really good at marketing,” Cancro says.

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