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Orion Buys Planning Software Startup Advizr

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CEO Eric Clarke of Orion Advisor Services. CEO Eric Clarke of Orion Advisor Services.

Orion Advisor Services has bought Advizr, a New York City-based financial planning software startup and developer of a client experience technology platform.

The purchase price wasn’t disclosed for the transaction, which closed July 10, Orion Advisor Services CEO Eric Clarke told ThinkAdvisor.

The addition of software stands to help Orion keep up with rivals including Envestnet, who earlier this year bought MoneyGuidePro for $500 million.

The Advizr acquisition follows Orion’s recent restructuring and rebranding of its operations that brought it and parent company NorthStar Financial Services Group closer to realizing their mission to help advisors “operationalize their vision for success and deliver a best-in-class client experience,” according to Orion.

Advizr entered the advisor tech space in 2012 and expanded its focus to the employee financial wellness market. Its client experience platform is known for its sleek interface and intuitive user experience, Orion noted in a July 11 announcement about the acquisition.

Advizr’s technology allows advisors, financial institutions and employers to engage investors in various ways, depending on each client’s service model — from highly collaborative to fully investor-led, Orion said. That versatility is accompanied by a “best-in-class” client portal that Orion said provides investors with a variety of “dynamic personal financial management capabilities powered by a comprehensive financial planning engine.” With its ability to seamlessly support goal- and cash-flow-based methodologies, Advizr has made the traditionally complex planning experience easier, Orion said.

Bringing Advizr’s “intuitive approach to the firms we serve will take the client experience capabilities we provide through our technology” and turnkey asset management program (TAMP) offering “to the next level,” Clarke said in the announcement. Combining all those components “will help advisors fulfill their fiduciary responsibilities regardless of the current regulations and cement their value to clients in a clear and measurable way,” he said.

“Our acquisition of Advizr is about the future opportunities we can create together for our users,” he told ThinkAdvisor, adding Orion “will not charge advisors an additional fee for Advizr’s tools.”

Asked why Orion decided to buy Advizr at this time, he explained: “When we looked at the advisors on our platform, only about 30% had implemented a financial planning integration. And those advisors had established financial plans with only 30% of their clientele. This told us there was something fundamentally broken about the planning process as it stood. We knew we needed to bring better technology and a great client experience to our users.”

Orion selected Advizr specifically because “we’ve seen a growing advisor demand for more tools to create a great client experience,” he said, adding: “This has been in the works for a long time, and we chose Advizr because we believe its standout client experience can help advisors on our platform grow their business.”

He singled out Advizr’s iterative planning as “one of the strengths” of its platform, explaining that “if a client approaches an advisor and just wants to discuss retirement planning or a similar issue, Advizr can build a planning solution in a way that is intuitive and immediately engaging.” Advizr’s technology enables clients and advisors to “engage each other at their own comfort, whether that’s a collaborative approach or one initiated by the client,” he said.

The “best part of this relationship,” meanwhile, is that the “code base and tech stacks” at Orion and Advizr match, which he predicted “will lead to a quick integration.” Also, “future innovations between the two of us will be market ready, and less expensive, than other acquisitions we’re seeing in the industry,” he projected, adding: “At the end of the day, this acquisition continues to bolster our offering to enterprise-sized firms, regionals and smaller firms alike.”

The similarities between the back ends of the two platforms will allow the combined experience to reach the market quickly, Orion said, projecting the integrated capabilities will be available to current and prospective clients by late 2019.

FTJ Fundchoice, which NorthStar bought last year, will incorporate Advizr’s income planning capabilities into its TAMP, according to Dean Cook, CEO of FTJ, whose brand name will soon change to Orion Portfolio Solutions. “With 10,000 baby boomers retiring each day, providing our advisors with a strong income-oriented proposal tool is a top priority for us,” he said.

Advizr’s co-founders — CEO Hussain Zaidi and COO Mustapha Baassiri — will join Orion’s executive team as president of Financial Planning Solutions and executive vice president of Financial Planning Solutions, respectively. The pair will continue to lead their team out of Advizr’s Manhattan location, according to Orion, which added that existing Advizr clients “should expect no disruption to their current service and will be among the first to benefit from the company’s position as part of the Orion brand family.”

— Check out Indie BDs Dominate as Tech Rises and Brands Fall on ThinkAdvisor.


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