What You Need to Know
- The firm is looking at tech-related acquisitions, CEO Eric Clarke says.
- It is crucial that advisors, at the very least, get educated on digital currencies, Clarke, says.
- Orion's confident that going ahead with the in-person Ascent conference was the right decision.
As Orion Advisor Solutions integrates Brinker Capital and HiddenLevers, which it recently acquired, the company is looking at more potential acquisitions, CEO Eric Clarke told ThinkAdvisor during a phone interview Wednesday, the last day of the Orion Ascent conference in Scottsdale, Arizona.
During the wide-ranging interview, Clarke also said that digital currencies were “here to stay” and that it was crucial for advisors to get up to speed.
He also explained why Orion opted to go ahead with its in-person conference despite a few other companies postponing their own live events until 2022 amid the spike in COVID-19 cases caused by the delta variant.
Brinker, HiddenLevers Integration
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“The Brinker transaction allowed us to greatly improve our asset management capabilities,” while the HiddenLevers transaction “allowed us to take their [investment] proposal technology and help our advisors grow by winning more business,” he explained. “That proposal technology addresses top-of-mind concerns that clients have and we’re seeing advisors really leverage that technology to help them close more prospects.”
When it comes to integrating those firms into Orion’s operations, he said: “With the Brinker transaction, I’d say we’re in the bottom of the sixth, top of the seventh” inning.
“All the advisor benefit” that they will start seeing the difference “comes in the seventh, eighth and ninth inning,” he said, adding: “There’s been a lot of groundwork that we’ve put in place so that we can now start building upon that.”
Meanwhile, the HiddenLevers integration is “in the third inning, so we’re just starting to implement our integration plan with them,” he said, predicting the integration will get close to the ninth inning “over the next seven to eight months.”
More Acquisitions Ahead?
Going forward, “if there are companies on the technology side that can help us better connect” Orion’s Prospect, Plan, Invest and Achieve framework strategy, “we’ll absolutely be looking at those,” he said. “We are looking at some of those now. We hope to continue to announce acquisitions that we’re making in that space.”
Specifically, “if there are opportunities out there where we can add scale to our business, we’re interested in those,” he told ThinkAdvisor. “Or if there are additional technologies that are helpful to our advisors, we’re absolutely interested in those as well. So we are having continued strategic discussions with about a half a dozen different parties right now. We’ll continue to have those.”
Noting Ric Edelman, founder of the Digital Assets Council of Financial Professionals, spoke on digital currencies at Ascent, Clarke stressed that Orion sees it as important to help advisors get educated on digital assets.
Although digital currencies are “obviously” not going away, “it is definitely still, I think, on the bleeding edge … as it relates to advisors trying to figure out how to incorporate digital currencies into portfolios,” Clarke said. At least some advisors are wondering how they can get the knowledge they need to “speak with some level of expertise around digital currencies” and the topic is “something that advisors are really trying to get their heads around,” he added.