All Tied Up

Nuveen offers advisors a way to stay close to high

Nuveen Investments is now offering advisors an electronic distribution and service platform to accommodate clients' ever-changing needs and time constraints. The e-platform not only provides interactive tools and timely research, but a personal concierge to be at advisors' beck and call.

As the market has become saturated with fund companies pushing products, advisors' shelf space is limited and advisors are growing weary of the typical wholesaling pitch. "Advisors are looking for companies that can be partners, that can help them with their practice, and help them grow revenue," says Louis Holland, managing director of Nuveen Advisor Partners in Chicago. "We want advisors to have a one-stop point of contact to answer all their practice management, investment, and solution needs." Advisors, he says, also want companies to adapt to their demands, and that means providing aid in person, by phone, and via the Web.

The e-platform provides client/advisor e-mail capabilities, access to articles, interactive tools, and live online events. Advisors are also afforded guidance and support in sales and marketing, investment strategy, managed money, financial planning, client management, practice management, and business planning.

Also included on the platform is an "advisor partner," who acts as a concierge by providing personalized service. Each advisor partner has a customized Web site that offers instant messages, real-time online meetings and presentations, a video presentation library, and third-party news feeds.

The e-platform was launched in July, and Holland says about 10,000 advisors--in financial institutions, at New York Stock Exchange firms, and independent broker/dealers--are using the platform.

Matthew McGinnis, an analyst with Boston-based Cerulli Associates, says Nuveen's e-platform is "cutting edge in terms of what fund companies are doing to target and build relationships with advisors using the Web. I think the idea behind the [Nuveen] site is to make Web-based relationships with advisors more of a pull versus a push." Nuveen's content on the site "is as good as, or superior to, its peers," he says, and the relationship management component in the form of an advisor partner is a clever feature that "creates a dialogue between an advisor and Nuveen."

The e-platform's content is culled not only from Nuveen's robust in-house library, but also from the fund company's partnership with the online information content provider, Horsesmouth. "[Horsesmouth's] data is written by experts who are in the financial industry; [the articles are written] for advisors by advisors, and they tackle a number of different concerns," Holland says, "like comprehensive wealth management, why fee-based services make sense now, 529 plans, wills, and retirement planning."

In designing the e-platform, Vince Pelligrini, VP and manager of e-commerce development at Nuveen, says the challenge was to remedy "some of the shortcomings of the traditional wholesaling model" by combining technology and content. "Advisors as a whole are tired of the typical product push and typical office visit with a PowerPoint presentation."

Nuveen is also willing to tailor content to an individual firm's needs through the platform's "e-partner program." Since advisory firms vary in technology smarts, Nuveen's e-platform can be customized to fit a firm's level of sophistication. For instance, Nuveen can weave its technology into an advisory firm's Intranet site, and for less sophisticated firms, customized services via e-mail, a conference call, or in-person visit can be arranged.

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