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The Skience wealth management digital platform has been “re-architected” to enable advanced efficiency, scalability and configuration, according to the Herndon, Virginia-based company.

The firm, formerly known as The Athene Group, offers wealth management consulting services within Salesforce’s cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) platform.

Skience 11.0 allows administrators to easily configure the user experience including application behavior, integrations and data layouts via Skience’s data cloud, “eliminating costly and frustrating delays caused by custom development work,” the company said in its announcement. 

Administrators can also add and rearrange elements from data transmissions that are visible in the CRM, giving wealth managers “pinpoint control over information needed to create a comprehensive view of their clients’ wealth,” the company said. The platform can accommodate new business lines as advisors expand their service offerings to support new custodians and product manufacturers and supports future upgrades “seamlessly and inexpensively.”

Skience 11.0 also marks a “significant advancement for our company, as it opens up the possibility for us to extend our business capabilities into new markets,” according to its CEO, Sanjeev Kumar.

VanEck Changes Name of Alternative Energy-Focused ETF

New York City investment firm VanEck changed the name and ticker symbol of the VanEck Vectors Global Alternative Energy ETF, effective July 9.

The new name is VanEck Vectors Low Carbon Energy ETF and the new ticker is SMOG (changed from GEX) and better reflects its energy ETF’s low carbon approach, according to the firm’s news release.

“As climate change and its potential solutions have become more present in our global discourse, the language used by those within the energy sector, as well as those investing in it, has changed and evolved,” according to Ed Lopez, head of ETF Product at VanEck. “What used to be referred to as ‘alternative energy’ is now more commonly referred to as ‘green,’ ‘clean’ or ‘renewable,’ and numerous large public companies in the energy space have acquiesced to investor demands to set more stringent, low carbon, emission standards,” he said in a statement.

The fund has an expense ratio of 0.63% and invests “at least 80% of its total assets in stocks of low-carbon energy companies,” added Lopez. It holds about 30 stocks and tracks the Ardour Global Index Extra Liquid, which focuses on companies involved in the production, transportation and storage of power via environmentally friendly, nontraditional sources such as wind, solar, hydro, geothermal and biofuels.

Hartford Funds Introduces AARP Balanced Retirement Fund

The AARP Balanced Retirement Fund expands Hartford Funds’ lineup of multi-strategy mutual funds with an investment strategy that the Wayne, Pennsylvania-based asset manager said was designed to “generate real total return” on a long-term basis while also decreasing downside risk and any impact from inflation on retirement accumulations.

The fund is a reconstructed version of the former Hartford Multi-Asset Income Fund, with a changed objective, principal investment strategy, portfolio manager and benchmark. It will invest in a variety of equity and equity-related securities, debt securities, structured products, derivatives, money market instruments and other investments, including other mutual funds and ETFs, according to Hartford Funds’ announcement

The target market is investors in or near retirement, who have less tolerance for major declines in the market, but still need to generate real returns to meet spending needs, it said. Wellington Management Company is the fund’s subadvisor.

Diamond Hill Launches International Strategy

Diamond Hill Capital Management launched the Diamond Hill International Fund, an international equity strategy that seeks long-term capital appreciation. 

The new fund invests mainly in foreign equity securities that portfolio managers Grady Burkett and Krishna Mohanraj see as undervalued, Diamond Hill said in a news release

They plan to diversify investments across multiple countries and regions, including up to 30% exposure to emerging markets, while maintaining 35-55 holdings in the strategy, the company said. The International strategy is available as a mutual fund or institutional separate account. The fund is available in multiple shares: A shares (DHIAX), I (DHIX) and Y (DHIYX), each with a different expense ratio: 1.16%, 0.87% and 0.75%, respectively.

Model FA Introduces Community Resource for Financial Advisors

The Model FA online community built by advisors, for advisors, launched a resource library and podcast. The Model FA community is looking to bring subject matter experts and advisors together to share best practices for branding, prospecting, selling, marketing and practice management, it said in a news release.

The Model FA community was inspired by the need for expert-provided, field-tested, up-to-the-moment practice management advice at a time when the role of financial advisors and client expectations placed upon them continue are changing rapidly.

“When we launched our RIA in 2016, we made a commitment to continually experiment, evolve, and adopt best practices in marketing, selling, and practice management,” Patrick Brewer, CFA, CPA, founder of SurePath Wealth and host of the Model FA podcast, said in a statement. But tested advice proved to be “surprisingly hard to find,” said Brewer, adding that Model FA is “a resource …  that our profession desperately needs.”

Advisors in the Model FA community have access to resources including the podcast; a blog offering advice on launching, marketing, scaling and transforming a financial service firm; and a resource library with templates that it said will enable advisors to “stop re-creating the wheel, get inspired, and build the firm of their dreams.”

— Check out last week’s portfolio product roundup here: MassMutual, CommonBond Offer Student Loan ReFi Plan: Portfolio Products