The 2020 Technology Tools for Today (T3) Advisor conference — held last month in San Diego — attracted about 100 technology companies, their RIA-focused innovations and some dynamic presentations. For instance, long-absence advisor-tech entrepreneur Reed Colley took to the main stage to launch his latest technology platform — Summit Wealth Systems.
Colley first appeared at T3 over 12 years ago with the rollout of the cloud-based performance reporting platform Black Diamond. Black Diamond, known for its elegant interface, ease of use and service excellence, is a case study in how a young startup can become a leading player in the advisor technology space in only a few years; its platform now has over $1 trillion in assets.
In 2011, Colley sold Black Diamond to Advent Software for $73 million. Four years later, SS&C bought the company for $2.3 billion.
To lay the ground for Summit Wealth Systems, Colley and his team interviewed over 100 advisors and uncovered their main complaint: Much of their “tech stack,” meaning their “tech pile,” is cumbersome, has multiple systems cobbled together and suffers from feature bloat — making their systems difficult to use and limiting the adoption of most of their key capabilities.
To fix this problem, Colley introduced Summit Wealth Systems — a modern wealth management platform that includes portfolio accounting and reporting, wealth modeling, rebalancing, and client communication capabilities all housed in one unified system.
Built on advanced “cloud-native” technology that includes “micro-services, atomic design and single tenancy,” its novel systems architecture and development methodologies mean Summit Wealth can provide RIAs with their own unique database and each investor client of the RIAs with a “hyper-personalized” experience.
Another returning star was Oleg Tishkevich, CEO of cloud-native platform INVENT, which he introduced at last year’s T3 gathering. It now boasts impressive growth numbers: over 10,000 users and $260 billion on the platform.
Tishkevich detailed the many ways cloud-native technology should modernize legacy systems. To fully realize these cloud-native capabilities, though, INVENT needs the cooperation of the gatekeepers in advisor tech — the custodians.
He made the case that the wealth-tech industry needs to come together and support the major players and custodians controlling innovation in wealth management and encourage them to prioritize resources, foster a sense of urgency and accelerate change — leveraging the promise of cloud-native technologies.
Since every custodian has a different agenda and competitive appetites, getting agreement in operating methodologies, data standards and open application programming interfaces (or APIs) is nearly impossible. For innovation to flourish, it needs to come from the ground up.
The T3 discussion upped the noise and collective worry of the advisor tech industry, which is highly concerned that — with Charles Schwab’s looming acquisition of TD Ameritrade and Schwab’s favoring of its legacy platforms over TD’s — this opportunity will become more and more remote. TD has been a leader in open architecture with its award-winning and tech-vendor- friendly Veo Open Access initiative.
Compounding this view was the news that a potential challenger to the Schwab/TD Ameritrade merger, E-Trade, could be gobbled up by Morgan Stanley. Virtually everyone at T3 agreed that this development would be the end of E-Trade’s RIA custody business, as no advisor wants to custody with a direct competitor, and no Morgan Stanley advisor wants to have a competitive channel within its own company.