When it comes to portfolio management and accounting software, there is no lack of competition. Albridge has historically done well among hybrid RIAs, although Morningstar, which is competitive across all demographics, has provided competition there. As a rule, mid- to large-size RIAs start their vendor searches with Envestnet/Tamarac, Orion, and SS&C/Black Diamond. With the possible exception of Albridge, all of the above named firms that initially launched SS&C/Black Diamond and accounting applications have expanded in an effort to become more of a platform solution. For example, Envestnet/Tamarac also offers CRM, rebalancing and a client portal. Presumably, they will also offer financial planning solutions powered by Envestnet/MoneyGuide. Orion offers CRM, rebalancing, compliance, a TAMP, a client portal, and some financial planning capabilities. Black Diamond offers CRM and rebalancing; and they have made it clear that they are looking to expand into other areas as well. Morningstar has long offered rebalancing and some basic CRM capabilities; more recently, they have launched basic financial planning application.
Advyzon originally launched as a platform solution, with some CRM and basic financial planning capabilities in addition to their portfolio management and accounting offering; but most of their initial success was due to their portfolio management and accounting capabilities. More recently, they have added additional features including robust calendaring, task management, automation, and document management.
Initially, Advyzon was looked upon as a solution for smaller RIA firms, but with the improvements they have made over the last year or so, they are now well positioned to compete for both hybrid advisors and larger RIA firms.
In my opinion, there are a few factors that have previously held Advyzon back from becoming a top-tier competitor over the last several years: A dated interface, a less than stellar client portal, and most importantly, the lack of a sophisticated rebalancing solution. As we shall see, the interface and portal problems have already been addressed, and the rebalancer is being piloted with a significant number of firms. Assuming all goes well with the pilot, Advyzon will be poised to successfully compete for larger deals by the time you read this.
The advisor-facing Advyzon interface rolled out this past June. It is highly configurable, so firms and advisors can customize it to their preferences. The new dashboard includes a calendar that integrates with both Microsoft Office 365 and G Suites. Users have control of that they want to synch between their Advyzon calendar and MS Outlook 365 or their Google calendar. There is also a task list available so that advisors can see all of their open tasks. In larger organizations, the tasks can roll up to the manager level, so the manager sees all open tasks across the firm. Advyzon includes workflow capabilities so tasks can be grouped into workflows. Once a firm sets up workflows, the advisor can see all of their workflows in progress and the manager can see all workflows in progress across a group of employees, or across the whole firm. For those familiar with building workflows, the process is relatively straightforward. No programming is required. You simply drag and drop objects to create the workflows. For those firm that do not have the ability to create their own workflows, for a nominal fee Advyzon will create them to the firm’s specifications.
Advyzon also includes an Automation Center. Within Automation Center, you can stipulate that if a specific thing happens, it automatically triggers a rule. So, for example, you can stipulate that if the status of a contact in your system is changed from a prospect to a client, a trigger automatically launches a new client onboarding workflow.
A client dashboard can be configured to suit individual tastes by dragging and dropping widgets around the dashboard. There are some nice integration and usability features built in. So, for example, if you click on a client’s address, you can launch Google Maps. If you click on the client’s Riskalyze number on the dashboard, it will take you in context to Riskalyze. There is a similar integration with Schwab that takes you to the client’s information within Schwab Advisor Services. The client dashboard has built-in sticky note capabilities, which was apparently a frequently requested feature. Some of the other data that displays on the client dashboard, in addition to the normally expected CRM data, includes last contact date, last review date and last action date, as well as an asset allocation overview, recent history list and an account list. Advisors can track a tax profile, estate documents, and much more. Custom fields can be created where necessary to track additional data. For clients in retirement, the application can track required minimum distributions (RMD). It can track RMD for inherited accounts as well.
Portfolio management and accounting capabilities via Advyzon more than suffice for most advisory firms. All the information you’d expect is there; it is well-organized and intuitive to use. The billing module is also robust. For multi-custody firms, you can see where an account is custodied. If the account is custodied at Schwab, you can click on the custodian’s name and you will be taken to the corresponding client data on the Schwab platform. In the case of TD Ameritrade, you are taken to the main VEO screen from which you can access the desired account. In the case of Schwab, you can also access Schwab research related to a specific holding; I am not aware of other firms that currently offer this level of integration with Schwab’s research.
Advyzon offers at least 30 reporting templates that provide more than enough capabilities to satisfy advisors’ needs. In addition to the client-facing reports, there are internal reports that cover risk/return metrics, upside/downside capture composites, 13F reports, ADV Schedule D, and more.
There is a document management system built into the platform with foldering capabilities. It does not have all of the power and features of stand-alone applications such as Laserfiche, but if may be sufficient for many use cases. When an advisor creates a folder on the system, it can be a private folder or one the client can also access. If it is the latter, custodial documents can be pushed to the folder. The advisor can publish Advyzon reports to the folders as well.
The new client-facing portal, which should be launching as you read this, is user configurable. It can be set to display small medium or large widgets. The small one allows for more information, but it is not appropriate for older clients who expect to view it on a phone. The portal contains three tabs: Overview, Insights, and Vault. The vault is where the documents are stored. The advisor can control the types of information the client can access within the Advyzon system.
Advyzon now offers a client prospecting portal. The advisory firm uses a template to customize their own factfinder than publishes it to the web. Once the factfinder is created, all data that the prospect provides is stored within the Advyzon platform. From there, it can be pushed to any of the applications that integrate with Advyzon. When a prospect registers, the advisor receives an alert, which allows the advisor to follow up with the prospect.
The final piece is the rebalancer, currently in beta. It is tax sensitive and location sensitive. When it is fully rolled out, it should fill the final remaining gap in the Advyzon platform.
Overall, Advyzon is an excellent value. Entry level pricing cost is $6,000 per year for a small firm. Larger firms will pay approximately $25 per account up to 1,000 accounts. Engagements over 1,000 accounts are custom priced. Pricing is dependent upon a number of factors including number of data sources, number of users, and types of securities.
The core portfolio management and accounting suffice for most firms. The reconciliation services receive high marks from advisors. The new client portal and rebalancing applications look good. The document management capabilities are not world class, but again, they are enough for many. The CRM capabilities will be sufficient for some, for those who need more, integrations with full featured CRM packages are available, and Advyzon offers integrations with several well-regarded financial planning software applications. Over the last several years, Advyzon has garnered some of the highest user satisfaction ratings in our T3/Inside Information Technology Survey, which indicates their client service is well above the norm.
If there is one small criticism I have, it is with the workflow builder. I like the ability to create completely custom workflows through a drag and drop interface, but many small- to mid-size firms have historically struggled with this task. I would like to see Advyzon build workflow templates for common workflows such as account opening, types of meetings (investment, financial planning, risk management, etc.) and other common tasks even though each firm tends to have their own specific process for these. It is much easier to edit an existing workflow template than it is to build your own from scratch.
Advyzon competes with some well-established firms that have excellent track records of meeting the needs of advisors, so the competition in the space is fierce. The competition is expected to continue, but I believe that Advyzon is poised to compete more effectively going forward. Overall, Advyzon continues to impress. Dollar for dollar, it is difficult to identify other platforms for advisors that offer so much for so little. That bodes well for their changes in 2020 and beyond.