Startups from across the U.S. were among the many companies who used the FinovateFall conference in New York on Tuesday to demonstrate financial services technology targeted at advisors, banks and individual investors.
Two standouts were BidMoni, based in Moss Point, Mississippi, and Wallit, based in Portland, Maine.
RIA BidMoni spotlighted enhancements made to its FiduciaryShield automated platform that launched last year for the retirement plan market. Since launching in summer 2018, it has been “steadily opening up the defined contribution space marketplace to fee-based advisors,” according to the company. The enhancements demonstrated at FinovateFall were designed to further enable advisors to grow their 401(k) businesses while better supporting industry requirements to monitor and document processes, it said.
The platform will “go beyond helping advisors connect with plan sponsor employers by identifying major risk factors in plans and presenting multiple solutions to remedy any problems that are discovered,” BidMoni said.
When developing FiduciaryShield, “the idea was to make it easier to shop for 401(k) plans,” BidMoni Co-CEO Stephen Daigle told ThinkAdvisor at the conference. To date, the platform has handled about $300 million in plan assets, he said, noting that the company beta tested it starting in summer 2018 and decided after testing to focus on the advisor space. About 250 advisors are currently using it, he said.
Retirement plan advisors, who must comply with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, are often burdened by inefficient processes and excessive paperwork, according to Daigle. Using FiduciaryShield, however, firms “can not only cultivate sales growth, they can simultaneously support improved advisor and firm compliance” — things he said “can and should go hand in hand.”
The BidMoni technology enhancements to FiduciaryShield include: The addition of FiduciaryShield Wellness Reports provided to advisors that highlight over 20 risk factors based on public filings that can be discussed with plan sponsors; a FiduciaryShield proposal request platform for efficiently shopping custodians, recordkeepers and third-party administrators; and FiduciaryShield 401(k) Prospector, which allows advisors to conduct customized searches of all plans and plan sponsors.
BidMoni also said it partnered with First Ascent Asset Management to serve as an independent 3(38) manager for plan sponsors who want to delegate fiduciary responsibility for the management of plan investments.
“RIA compliance and legal counsel have always had to worry about the risk of ERISA litigation,” Daigle said in a statement. “But if the right parameters are set on the front end and firms can actually document adherence, that risk is greatly mitigated,” he said, adding: “We’re confident our technology will bring ease to what was once a burdensome task.”
And Wallit showcased its Wallit rewards-based savings app for families with teenagers that rewards users when they save and spend money. The firm, which started as Ourly in 2016, demonstrated its new platform at FinovateFall. A beta version of the app was launched in April and an official launch is planned for next month, CEO Mike Vien told ThinkAdvisor.
Initially, the company is targeting banks and credit unions, and already has 10 clients and more than 20,000 monthly active users, he said. But, “eventually, financial advisors” are expected to make up a significant part of its client base also, he told us, explaining Wallit provides a way that those clients can more easily “help the entire family.”
Although consumers can access its app now on mobile devices, Wallit is also offering a co-branded version of the app for companies, and companies can also opt to use a version of the app entirely with their own brand, he explained.
Vien, an ex-Fidelity Investments executive, also served as chief operating officer of Boston-based RIA Shepherd Kaplan, he noted. Wallit disclosed that it raised $2.6 million in seed round funding led by early-stage fintech investors BlueIO, Mendoza Ventures and BoxOne Ventures, along with unnamed private investors and participation from the Maine Technology Institute.