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Advisor Group Unveils Enhanced Tech, Including Express Onboarding

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What You Need to Know

  • Express Onboarding was designed to streamline the process by which newly recruited advisors transition to Advisor Group.
  • That and other enhanced tech platforms were introduced at the firm's annual ConnectED conference in Las Vegas on Monday.
  • Advisor Group has invested about $65 million to date for its digital transformation platforms.

At its annual ConnectED conference in Las Vegas on Monday, Advisor Group launched several enhanced technology platforms including Express Onboarding, a newly designed Advisor Business Hub portal, and an upgraded customer relationship management platform for its 10,100 or so financial professionals who the company said now oversee over $475 billion in client assets.

Also being rolled out is Vidyard for Advisor Group, a platform that it said enables advisors to quickly record individual marketing and client communication videos through a desktop application.

All these tech platforms are being tested by a “significant” number of the company’s advisors, and they “will be, in some form or another, rolled out between now and by the end of the second quarter of 2022,” Greg Cornick, Advisor Group president of advice and wealth management, told ThinkAdvisor.

Initial advisor feedback has been positive, including from “next-generation” advisors, he said, adding the platforms will be made available to all Advisor Group-affiliated advisors.

“A lot of what we’re announcing is the culmination of multiple years of work” on a digital transformation strategy, he explained, calling it a “journey … to create this seamless, intuitive and engaging advisor and client experience.” Now, “we’re pretty excited to get out in front of advisors with it,” he said.

Advisor Group has invested about $65 million to date for its digital transformation platforms, it said. The company declined to say how much more it plans to spend on the initiative.

Streamlining and Simplifying Onboarding

Express Onboarding was designed to “streamline, simplify and expedite the process by which newly recruited advisors transition to Advisor Group and their new wealth management firms,” the company said in its announcement.

Advisor transitions have traditionally been complicated, but Advisor Group’s “enhanced process — powered by investments in paperless technology, automation and closer integrations — aim to make each step easier and faster,” it said.

“The way to think about Express Onboarding is as a “complete digitization of the onboarding process into Advisor Group,” Cornick explained to ThinkAdvisor. “It’s going to really make more streamlined the recruiting process as advisors are looking to join us.” That is because Express Onboarding has “ripped out a ton of steps, a ton of duplicative data [and] it’s extremely intuitive,” he said.

Express Onboarding is “very much an extension of what we experienced in the COVID environment, where in the recruiting world, we started seeing this hybrid demand” where advsors still wanted to talk to people live and work with recruiters “but then there [were] a bunch of folks who were becoming very comfortable” working remotely and just wanted to do it “completely digitally,” according to Cornick.

Advisor Group previously launched an eQuipt digital client onboarding and account management platform about two years ago. EQuipt is “alive and well and it’s growing [and] it’s going to be that primary interface” for the “B2C” connection between Advisor Group and clients, Cornick said.

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Other Platforms

The company’s new, “closely integrated” CRM platform will be used by home-office service specialists at each of Advisor Group’s six broker-dealer subsidiaries to support financial advisors and address their needs, the company said. It “consolidates and integrates several older advisor support systems into a new platform that leverages Salesforce’s latest technology,” according to Advisor Group.

The new Advisor Business Hub portal, meanwhile, “brings together all the applications, platforms, content, services and other growth tools that advisors need to run their businesses and serve clients in a modern, easy-to-use interface,” according to the company.

Advisor Group is the first network of independent BD firms to bring the Vidyard technology to financial professionals, through a new strategic partnership, according to Advisor Group. The platform “automatically routes the video through all necessary channels for compliance review without the need for manual submission,” according to Advisor Group.

Vidyard also offers “built-in branding capabilities, the ability to insert calls-to-action in videos themselves and analytic tools to measure engagement,” it said.

The Latest Educational Initiatives

Advisor Group also highlighted two educational initiatives to support financial planning and the delivery of quality advice to clients.

First, the company is piloting Financial Planning Jump Start, a six-month curriculum in collaboration with Advanced Planning Educational Group that Advisor Group said was designed to train and coach early-career advisors and associates in the basics of financial planning.

The program combines in-person and virtual training events with group coaching sessions to “guide participants on the path to completion,” it said.

Jump Start is piloting now and will launch by the start of 2022, Cornick told ThinkAdvisor, adding it will be made available across all six Advisor Group BDs.

Advisor Group also announced the expansion to all its network firms of the Behavioral Financial Advice Training Program, which previously was available to just advisors at the former Ladenburg Thalmann subsidiaries Securities America and Triad Advisors that Advisor Group acquired last year.

About 5,000 financial professionals registered to attend this year’s hybrid conference, including about 3,000 in person and 2,000 virtually, Cornick said.

(Pictured: Greg Cornick of Advisor Group)