Many firms offer services, especially aggregators, to help investment advisors set up an advisory firm, or offer them software on a platform to help work with clients. A new Software-as-a-Service-based membership organization for independent advisors launched last week takes that model further.
Chalice Financial Network, which will focus on RIAs with $50 million to $250 million in assets under management, will offer services on an unbundled basis for a $250 monthly fee (minimum one-year membership). No RIA or broker-dealer affiliation is required.
And at least for CFN, membership has its privileges, as it includes helping advisors not only run their advisory business, but provides tools for them be better business managers, says Keith Gregg, co-founder, chairman and CEO of the organization.
“It can be daunting being a business owner,” Gregg told ThinkAdvisor. “A lot of advisors have never done it before.”
He says they not only provide top-grade third-party advisory software and fintech solutions in one platform to advisors, but also provide business solutions, such as software for accounting, so advisors aren’t wasting time accessing separate programs.
“We have a single sign on where they can look at all the software,” Gregg said. Having separate sign-ons for business software can take “50% of an advisor’s day bounding around the systems and not focusing on revenue building.”
Some of the providers on the platform include Redtail, WealthForge, Venture Co., Vestwell, Oasis Outsourcing, QuickBooks, ProSites and more, CFN noted. The flat fee covers some services, but advisors can select software they want for a discounted fee.
CFN launched last week, and day of the launch there were “106 advisors and counting,” Gregg said.
Gregg, who developed the idea of CFN, said that with the large growth of independent advisors, he felt small- to medium-size advisors weren’t being serviced and many were lost when it came to running a business. CFN, Gregg says, not only helps them set up their advisory, but works with them continuously to grow their businesses. Not only the software, but the service will aid with setting up lead generation websites and even offers health insurance for members. It also provides access to investment and merchant banking, succession planning and enterprise services, such as human resources, IT, payroll, finance, marketing and legal.
Gregg also saw that smaller advisors, who had left bigger firms to set up an advisory, felt isolated. “They missed the camaraderie of a large wirehouse, for example,” Gregg said. “We said, ‘let’s create a community, let’s do what the [Small Business Association] has done.”
The CFN’s advisory board includes Daniel Krueter, founder of Gladstone Group; Eric Clarke, CEO of Orion Advisor Services; Morris Nutt, CEO of Trinity Capital Management, Don Plotsky, managing member of Uinta Investment Partners; Rich Cancro, CEO and founder of AdvisorEngine; Steve Dunlap, founder of Stratym Consulting, Spenser Segal, CEO of ActiFi; Stephanie Brown, former GC of LPL, and Riskalyze CEO Aaron Klein.
When asked about the new venture, Riskalyze’s Klein replied in an email, “I was pleased to join Chalice’s advisory board. The vision that Keith and Derek [Bruton, managing partner and chief operating officer] are bringing to the marketplace has the opportunity to be a really unique driver of independence for advisors. The conventional wisdom is that all advice will be delivered through billion-dollar firms, and I’m a believer that there is a lot of space still for small independents. Access to tens of thousands of dollars in savings — from guaranteed issue health care to technology — is a key differentiator for those firms.”
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