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Principal Financial Group launched a digital advice program, Principal SimpleInvest, which provides retirement savers with access to personalized investment advice online, along with guidance from financial professionals, the firm said.

SimpleInvest uses mutual funds and exchange-traded funds managed by Principal Global Investors as well as the trading services of RobustWealth, a digital wealth management firm bought by Principal in 2018.

“Principal SimpleInvest combines very sophisticated technology with a human connection intended to offer meaningful financial guidance to help people – at any place in their savings journey – save enough for their future needs,” according to Mamadou Sow, head of Direct to Consumer at Principal.

The program was first offered as an IRA rollover option for former Principal 401(k) plan participants. It’s the latest Principal offering that it said builds on the firm’s goal of improving retirement outcomes for investors, following its acquisition of Wells Fargo’s retirement business earlier this year.

YCharts Integrates With Schwab Advisor Center

YCharts, an investment research, analytics and client communications platform, has become one of the first wave of providers to offer new, streamlined single sign-on integration into the Schwab Advisor Center platform as part of Schwab’s planned strategy to broaden technology solutions for the more than 7,500 independent investment advisors who custody with the firm.

The nearly 1,000 joint customers of YCharts and Schwab can also access the single sign-on integration, which allows advisors to move from YCharts to the Schwab Advisor Center with one click.

“YCharts is a valuable addition, and fits well within our broad strategy to provide advisors with solutions that help them deliver a secure, seamless experience for their clients,” said Kartik Srinivasan, Managing Director, Digital Product Management for Schwab Advisor Services.

“By reducing the friction between advisors and the technology they need to do their jobs efficiently, we’re giving them valuable hours back in their day,” said YCharts President and CEO Sean Brown.

Advisors attending the Schwab IMPACT conference will be able to view the new YCharts addition to Schwab’s Advisor Center platform.

LGBTQ100 ESG Index Launches

The environmental, social and governance universe has a new entrant, the LGBTQ100 ESG Index, rolled out by LGBTQ Loyalty Holdings, a financial methodology and media company.

According to LGBTQ Loyalty, the new index is the first to reference LGBTQ community survey data in the methodology for a benchmark listing of the top financially performing companies in the U.S. that respondents say are most committed to advancing equality.

The index, which will be reconstituted annually, comprises 100 LGBTQ equality-driven companies from the nation’s top 500 publicly traded companies based on LGBTQ Loyalty surveys. It will maintain industry sector grouping whereby each sector can represent up to 25% in the weighting calculation. The biggest sectors in the current weighting are technology, at 25%; health care, at 17.4%; and finance, at 12.4%.

Among its top constituent companies are Cisco Systems, Coca-Cola, JPMorgan Chase and Amgen.

New Sustainability Report Card Grades Mutual Funds

As You Sow upgraded its Gender Equality Funds investing tool with a sustainability report card that the Berkeley, California-based nonprofit said grades investments on six environmental and social issues that include gender equality, fossil fuels, deforestation, military weapons, tobacco and guns.

The updated search tool helps investors find mutual funds and ETFs that match their values and offer financial returns that beat the market, it said.

The sustainability report card combines data from As You Sow’s suite of six Invest Your Values tools and enables investors to easily see whether their 401(k) options or personal portfolios are invested in industries they may want to avoid or companies that have weak gender equality policies.

The Invest Your Values free, online search tools provide insight into the environmental and social impact of their portfolios, alongside traditional metrics including financial returns.

Confluence Analytics Introduces ESG Tools

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based Confluence Analytics started fielding a suite of environmental, social and governance-focused research and rating tools that enable investors to draw clear links between ESG ratings and the return characteristics of stocks and ETFs, the company said.

“Until now the ESG data available to investors had serious limitations,” according to Conor Platt, founder of Confluence Analytics. “Vendors’ ESG rankings and metrics vary widely and are updated inconsistently, so users end up inherently biased by their chosen vendor’s perspective,” he said in a statement, adding: “For all the data that the typical vendor provides, they are silent when it comes to providing direct links between ESG ratings and investment returns.”

Confluence partners with OWLShares to use that firm’s multi-sourced, consensus-based data universe, reducing the effects of latent biases, Confluence said. It also offers clients performance rankings, rankings forecasts and alpha forecasts, it said.

The new Confluence Analytics suite of tools is available to RIAs, institutions and asset managers and can be customized to suit specific needs, the company said.

New Innovator ETFs Start Trading

Wheaton, Illinois-based RIA Innovator Capital Management introduced the November Series of Innovator S&P 500 Buffer ETFs on the Chicago Board Options Exchange.

The Innovator Defined Outcome suite of ETFs “allow investors to take advantage of market growth while maintaining very specific buffer levels against loss,” according to Bruce Bond, CEO of Innovator ETFs.

In a separate announcement, the company said its suite of ETFs, including its flagship Buffer ETFs, are taking advantage of Rule 6.9, which allows in-kind transfers with regard to options held in ETFs. The rule was  proposed by the CBOE and approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission in mid-October.

In-kind transactions allows investors to defer certain tax consequences until they sell an ETF, helping them avoid capital gains distributions, among other benefits.

The rule change has, in effect, created a “new era of tax efficiency for ETFs using options,” according to Innovator, which added there is now a “path for options-based ETFs, including its flagship Buffer ETFs, to be more tax-efficient by taking advantage of in-kind transfers previously only available to traditional ETFs.”

The firm’s November Series of ETFs include the Innovator S&P 500 Buffer ETF (BNOV), Innovator S&P 500 Power Buffer ETF (PNOV)  and Innovator S&P 500 Ultra Buffer ETF (UNOV). Each has a 0.79% management fee.

Carson CX Tech Stack for Advisors Updated

Omaha, Nebraska-based Carson Group, which manages $11.2 billion in assets, made several enhancements to its CX technology stack that it said were “designed to help advisors serve their clients, articulate their value and grow their firms.”

A new version of Carson’s Personalized Gameplan was launched, branded as “Life’s Moments,” that the firm said illustrates the lifespan of an advisor-client relationship through an interactive timeline and showcases “key pivotal decisions where the advisor added value and guidance to the client’s life.”

The redesign was done to “match and enhance the Carson CX, with improved print formatting and functionality as well as integration into advisors’ Document Storage systems,” it said.

Notes taken electronically in the Personalized Gameplan are automatically tracked and formatted for post-meeting client updates, grouped by advisor and client checklist items (To-Do’s) and displayed in a single, digital view, the company said.

Client’s mobile experience was improved with updates to the Carson CX that was originally launched in May 2019. The updated CX leverages new tools that “simplify the account aggregation process,” while “enhancements have also been made to improve readability and accessibility, especially for visually or auditory impaired users,” it said.

Enhanced reporting on client actions include advisor email notifications for major cash events, profile updates or risk tolerance updates and design changes that “improve the user interface and streamline client interactions with their financial priorities and profile information.”

– Michael S. Fischer contributed reporting.

— Check out last week’s portfolio product roundup here: Morningstar Teams With Millennium Trust on Mutual Funds: Portfolio Products