ActiFi, the online practice management company that has already helped numerous TD Ameritrade-affiliated advisors improve their practices, announced Wednesday, September 1, that it would now be supplying DecisionMark, a customized version of its Web-based ActiFi Roadmap tool, to the 15-year-old Zero Alpha Group, the international network of independent high-end RIA firms that has a collective $5 billion in AUM.
In an interview on September 1, ActiFi CEO Spenser Segal said he believed that a tool like DecisionMark, which allowed advisory firms to benchmark their own business data against real-time data from peer firms of similar size and business models, “will become table stakes” over the next three to five years “for every broker-dealer and custodian.” In that near future, he believes, “custodians and broker-dealers will be able to institutionalize their practice management wisdom.”
The Web-based tool will allow advisor users to not simply view benchmarking data, but to analyze their own data and compare it to their peers, performing analysis in near real-time. Since it can integrate with other advisor applications like the SalesForce CRM system, DecisionMark will allow each firm’s principal to set up dynamic dashboards for the firm and individual staffers, setting goals and monitoring progress toward those goals using customized metrics and rules.
The benchmarking data will come, in Zero Alpha Group’s case, from the other members of the network. In the case of a custodian or broker/dealer, Segal explains, the data could come from that gathered by the custodian or BD from the firms affiliated with that BD or custodian. Since the firms in Zero Alpha all are successful businesses with full-time CFOs, he points out, they already gather data for their own firms, in addition to participating in broader benchmarking studies, but the problem has been in gathering current data–on a quarterly or even monthly basis–rather than, in some cases, year-old data, in being able to analyze that data and then apply that analysis to business decisions.
“We’re providing a heads-up display” for advisors, argues Segal, “rather than driving by a rear-view mirror” that uses stale benchmarking data like that gathered by existing benchmarking firms, though he was quick to give those firms, such as FA Insight and Moss Adams, credit for their work.
While such a benchmarking tool might be applicable to many businesses, Segal said “we’re devoting 100% of our efforts in the wealth management space.”
WealthManagerWeb.com’s editor, Kate McBride, previously wrote about the success of TD Ameritrade advisors using the ActiFi Roadmap system.