Orion Advisor Tech CEO Eric Clarke Orion Advisor Tech CEO Eric Clarke.

Charles Schwab and Fidelity Institutional have joined the Orion Portfolio Solutions turnkey asset management platform as part of a comprehensive update announced Thursday.

The addition of Schwab as a custodian option deepens the firms’ existing partnership in a move that immediately expands the Orion platform to a much larger pool of assets, Orion said. Schwab integrated its digital account opening tool with Orion Tech last year.

Fidelity, meanwhile, has added its core lineup of investment strategies to both OPS and Communities, Orion Advisor Tech’s model marketplace. Orion Communities is now offering Fidelity’s lineup of 30-plus model portfolios and model-delivered separately managed accounts, while OPS will feature eight Fidelity model portfolios and a themed model SMA strategy.

At the same time, the TAMP has undergone a variety of technology and user improvements that went live for users this week, including support for Orion’s automated marketing software, a new proposal generation system and a new risk scoring rubric.

Industry Insiders’ Views

The additions of Fidelity and Schwab are “a huge deal,” since “Orion gets instant distribution to two of the largest platforms in the industry,” said Tim Welsh, president, CEO and founder of consulting firm Nexus Strategy, in an interview with ThinkAdvisor.

“It definitely puts them on an even playing field with everyone in the industry in the TAMP world,” Welsh explained. “This will be a big competitive threat to Envestnet.”

(Envestnet did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Orion’s announcement.)

Also significant are the enhancements to Orion’s marketing tools, because those “are always a big deal,” Welsh said, noting the “number one request from any advisor is ‘help me grow,’ so those digital tools will be in high demand.”

It was a “brilliant strategic move by Orion to build out that marketing platform,” he added.

More Market*r  Details

Noting that proactive client acquisition is the “first step in developing a strong advisor-client relationship,” Orion said it started to extend Market*r, its automated prospecting and campaign building solution, to advisors leveraging the OPS platform.

It says this development should help advisors “bring prospects to their virtual doorstep with customizable, omnichannel campaigns tied to personalized goals, immediately setting the stage for planning engagements,” the platform provider explained in a press release.

“The extension of Market*r and the new in-house proposal generation technologies are the bigger story here,” said Joel Bruckenstein, head of the Technology Tools for Today (or T3) hub in an email sent to ThinkAdvisor. “The Market Cycle Advised Mandates is also significant, as is the enhanced risk scoring.”

Overall, during the COVID-19 pandemic, “advisors need to up their digital marketing game,” Bruckenstein explained. “That’s where Market*r plays an important role.”

Also, given the increased market volatility experienced this year, “getting risk scoring right is extremely important,” he added. “I am glad to see that Orion is investing in this area.”

New Offerings

The Fidelity offerings include:

  • Fidelity Target Allocation Model Portfolios, Fidelity’s earliest suite of models with the longest track record, which provide five different asset mixes designed to achieve a spectrum of risk profiles as well as seek to enhance potential for excess return
  • Fidelity Business Cycle Model Portfolios, which incorporate a dynamic investment approach based on shifts in the business cycle, designed to enhance risk-adjusted returns
  • Fidelity Bond Income Model Portfolio, designed to provide a high level of income and manage risk with a diverse investment universe, including exchange-traded funds
  • Fidelity Advisor Women’s Leadership SMA, which seeks to invest in companies that prioritize and advance women’s leadership/development.

Orion’s latest news comes two months after it announced plans to merge with investment manager Brinker Capital and form a firm with some $40 billion in managed assets; also, Genstar Capital made an investment in the new entity, joining TA Associates. Nearly a year ago, the platform provider  announced the first phase of technology updates to its TAMP platform.

The merger with Brinker has given Orion “more capabilities and resources as an investment provider,” so that was “one of the benefits” of that merger, said Welsh.

The “cumulative effect” of that merger and Orion’s 2018 purchase of FTJ FundChoice “just takes [Orion] to the next level” and is part of “Orion’s strategy, which is technology plus investment access equals victory,” he said.

Strategic Updates

On Thursday, Orion also released new in-house proposal generation technology, a step-by-step framework that it said “ties diversified investment proposals to investors’ specific needs.”

From the upgraded interface, advisors can now “access real-time portfolio data to aid in investment selection, including risk and asset class information,” the firm said, adding: “Once proposals are built, advisors can adjust them on the fly” between single strategy, unified managed accounts and self-directed proposals.

“The most important steps in the advisor-client journey are the first ones,” Cory Kendall, national sales manager at OPS, said in the announcement, adding: “Our new technology lets advisors cast a wider net for new business and get right to work crafting goal-based investment strategies.”

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