Fiserv and AdviceAmerica are not new names to many advisors. Before it sold its RIA custodian business — Fiserv ISS (formerly DataLynx) — to TD Ameritrade in May 2007, Fiserv had a smallish but devoted following among RIAs, particularly on account of its customer service.
But even after that divestiture, Fiserv has continued to serve the middle- and back-office needs of many advisors among RIAs and bank and insurance broker/dealers, especially in the separately managed account (SMA) space, through its Fiserv Investment Services unit.
As its name implies, AdviceAmerica has been a player in the online financial planning business for more than 10 years, providing the engine behind some major bank, credit union and community bank, B/D, and even direct-to-consumer online planning applications for over 10 years.
On June 7, Fiserv announced it had acquired AdviceAmerica for an undisclosed sum, prompting the president of Fiserv’s Financial Institutions Group, Mike Gianoni, to say in a statement that the deal “advances the Investment Services strategy to be the platform of choice for the wealth management industry.”
Purna Pareek, the founder and CEO of AdviceAmerica, and Cheryl Nash, senior VP of Fiserv Investment Services, visited the Investment Advisor Group’s offices in Hoboken on July 1 to speak about the acquisition and the new venture’s plans.
Q: Tell us about your strategy. Who are your users now, and who do you hope will become your users?
Nash: Before the merger, Investment Services was focused on its technology platform for managed accounts–asset managers, banks and trust companies, and back-office solutions for the whole wealth management space. As we started looking at trends in the marketplace and what our clients and the industry were looking for, we saw a great opportunity with AdviceAmerica.
Pareek: We have tools for agents and broker/dealers–relationship management tools, tools to sell insurance policies and annuities, for example.
Q: So how do you use the AdviceAmerica platform to do financial planning?
Pareek: We serve three or four different channels. One is the major firms, the large-enterprise customers, where we provide the technology platforms on which we can build multiple custom applications. But from the perspective of investment advisors such as independent broker/dealers and agents, we have a suite of tools. One of them is called AdvisorVision, which is a financial planning tool used by investment advisors and financial planners.
Then we have a whole bunch of other tools, such as CRM tools, called ClientVision, which is a Web-based relationship management (CRM) tool designed for one- to 10-person offices such as insurance agents, investment advisors, and insurance brokers. One interesting twist that we offer on AdvisorVision is a little planning tool–it’s an private-label tool–that advisors can add to their Web site, and clients and prospects can use it to do quick retirement planning.
Q: So this is a good way for clients to see how far behind they are, and then they’ll want to give the investment advisor a call?
Pareek: That’s right. The customer can click a button that says “I want to talk to you, give me a call,” or they can send an e-mail. You’ve captured all this data [by the consumer providing their financial data in the online tool], and AdvisorVision will populate that data [into its application].
Q: So for that first advisor-prospect meeting, the advisor doesn’t have to say, “Bring me all your financial data and income tax returns for the last 10 years?”
Pareek: Yes, you don’t have to do all that data entry because the client has already gone through it on the Web. You know the client already, you know the assets, the IRAs, the 401(k) [assets]. It’s a lead generation mechanism along with a productivity enhancement tool because you’re capturing all this data.