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The Advisor With a $275M Firm and a Software Startup

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Oranj -- and a growing list of next generation advisor software -- is the new black for firms seeking to “out-robo” robo advisors.

The robo wave is forcing flesh and blood advisors to improve their digital presence and that has fintech companies like Oranj rushing to fill the void.

The nearly two-year-old Chicago-based startup has signed on 27 financial advisory firms in the past month alone, bringing its total clients to 314, according to Oranj CEO David Lyon.

Fees start at $250 a month and go up from there, depending on the number of advisors in a firm. Oranj’s customers range in size from early stage wealth managers to established firms with $500 million in assets under management.

Future growth could come from broker dealers as well as from regional banks that provide wealth management services, Lyon says.

Meanwhile, Oranj is attracting investment interest from both the tech and investment space, he adds.

“People have changed the way they live their lives. They have come to expect a digital resource when working with a professional,” says Lyon, who also runs his own investment firm Main Street Financial, which has north of $275 million under management. “Advisors need to meet with their clients in the way their clients want to be met with.”


Financial advisors have been slow to update their digital presence, but that’s changing as tech-savvy clients have grown more demanding, giving rise to a slew of more sophisticated products.

“Advisors have long wanted to upgrade their digital offerings. They simply didn’t have the option,” says Michael Kitces, director of research at Pinnacle Advisory Group. “A growing realization that advisors will actually pay for quality technology solutions -- and are actually more likely to pay than direct-to-consumer solutions -- is driving a growing number of ‘advisor fintech’ offerings, including companies like Oranj.”

In addition to Oranj, names in this second generation of advisor software space include Advizr, Trizic, Upside, Wealth Access, Jemstep, Vanare -- which bought online wealth management platform NestEgg -- and Guide Financial, which was just acquired by John Hancock, says Grant Easterbrook, co-founder of startup Dream Forward Financial.

Fidelity recently snapped up another advisor tech platform, eMoney. At the same time, consumer-focused robo advisors like Betterment are now targeting the advisor market too.   

“We’re seeing a wave of both startups and more established firms entering the space to modernize the advisor software industry,” Easterbrook says.


Lyon says he got the idea for Oranj three years ago when he was looking for a tech solution for his own firm, and came up short.

“Our clients didn’t want the 30-page report, they wanted the bottom line,” he says.

Originally Lyon’s firm, Main Street Financial, developed software for itself. But soon other RIAs who shared the same custodian, TD Ameritrade, were asking to license the technology and the business was born. The name Oranj is a play on the orange used in Main Street’s marketing materials.

Oranj functions as an advisor tech one-stop that provides a variety of different services, including a financial management app for clients, tools for connecting advisors with clients and prospective clients, and analytics to help advisors track clients and respond to their needs.

A client, for instance can go to the platform and change a goal, such as his or her retirement age. The advisor will get a notification and can follow up via the app.

“The technology is really a platform to collaborate with a client,” Lyon said.

In a crowded field, one way Oranj differentiates itself is by helping advisors generate new business in a user friendly way, Lyon says. Advisors can add a link on their websites where prospective customers can create a profile and begin to connect with Oranj.


Bill Winterberg, founder of FPPad.com, calls Oranj an “all-in one-solution for relationship management, which it does very well.”

Greg Straka, the cofounder of Rethink, a financial services startup in Charleston, S.C., said he signed up for Oranj because of the customer experience it offers.

“Oranj is the only truly comprehensive financial planning software I could find that puts the client in control,” Straka says. “It allows our customers to raise their hands when they want help, and if they don’t need any, they have the tools in their hands.”

But even with all the bells and whistles, one-stops like Oranj face the challenge of convincing established firms who have “already invested enough into their own systems,” to give them up and adopt an all-in-one instead, Kitces says.

Lyon says Oranj will continue to innovate to lure customers. Coming soon: deeper analytics to allow advisors to more closely track clients.

“Consumer behavior has evolved,” Lyon says. “Advisors are looking at robo advisors and saying, ‘What can I learn from that? This is the way people want to do be served today.”

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