Raymond James (RJF) says its Freedom portfolios and similar products are as close as it is likely to get when it comes to giving advisors robo-like technology. But the firm is moving aggressively on other high-tech fronts, especially its mobile offerings, according to two executives.
“If the advisor wants to, say, give clients the ability to do some model management [work] on their own, the advisor can do that,” said Bella Allaire, head of technology and operations in an interview Wednesday during the firm’s yearly independent advisor channel in Nashville. “The biggest thing we say, though, is that we [as a firm] are not going directly to the client.”
“And we are looking at a product geared for younger generations with a lower asset level – that would still be offered through the advisors,” explained Vin Campagnoli, chief information office.
Raymond James, which includes about 6,400 advisors, has a Technology Advisory Council to provide input on what its IT focus should be. “The top priority for ‘16 planning was mobile, more mobility,” Campagnoli said. “What we did for advisors in the office met their expectations, but they want it to be mobile and quick, too.”
The firm says that its next product launch, set for May, is a document storage feature, or client vault, on its Investor Access website, so advisors and clients can better collaborate.
“The client will soon be able to post any documents there – such as a copy of a will or trust,” Campagnoli said. “Likewise, an advisor can put a review package for the client there.”
As documents are added to a client’s document vault, a message would go out alerting advisors and investors.
In the summer, Raymond James will give a mobile application to advisors so they can get more client data and do more for their practices while out of the office. “It makes them fully movable … on [Apple] devices,” Campagnoli said.
Next, the firm intends to work on a mobile app for clients. “It would mirror that of the advisors,” he said.
This summer, clients will gain access to what Campagnoli calls a “dual factor” security feature, also referred to as two-factor authentication.
“It is an option that some banks have,” he explained. In addition to using their usual login information, clients can get a [one-time] PIN sent to them by text or a phone call.
Further down the line, Raymond James plans to roll out a complex wealth- and product-management system that integrates a large amount of data and details on financial products.
“We are two years into the planning and design,” said Allaire. “We have some first-release dates a few years out.”
The technology aims to integrate a large amount data and a variety of features for building portfolio and financial models, drift reporting, remodeling work and so on. “This would help advisors with model-based practices and those who want a comprehensive solution [for financial planning] in one place,” she said. “It’s very sophisticated and involved.”
The firm was working on this for its “top advisors” before it announced plans to acquire Deutsche Bank’s U.S. wealth management group of about 200 advisors (and rename the group Alex. Brown), said Campagnoli.
“We do not think — with the 700 or 800 attributes of products it includes — anyone else in the industry has this technology,” Allaire said. “It will let the advisor understand the characteristics of products, structures and other aspects of complicated investments.”
Why such a robust system? “Advisors need to X-ray investments and correlate them, so they can run models and review their suitability for their clients – to see what is best,” she said.
— Check out DOL Fiduciary Means Higher Costs, Robo Exploration: Raymond James Exec on ThinkAdvisor.