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Technology > Investment Platforms

Morgan Stanley-Backed Fintech Teams With Schwab on Advisor AI Solutions: Tech Roundup

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What You Need to Know

  • Morgan Stanley-backed CogniCor established a formal relationship with Schwab to provide AI-enabled solutions to RIAs.
  • Orion and the Texas Prepaid Higher Education Tuition Board make new enhancements to the LoneStar 529 Plan.
  • Envestnet appointed Ron Ransom to serve as group head of its ESG office.

Morgan Stanley-backed fintech firm CogniCor is now part of Schwab Advisor Services’ Provider Listings program, a resource for registered investment advisors who are researching third-party technology solutions to leverage in their firms.

Using the Provider Listings, independent advisors can filter technology providers based on the kind of tool or service needed and can get information about the level of integration with Schwab. Each listing includes additional detailed information about the provider, including screenshots of the technology in action.

Sequoia Financial is the first customer as part of the new pact, CogniCor and Sequoia said Thursday in a joint announcement.

CogniCor operates an AI-powered business automation and learning platform for highly regulated industries.

Continued consolidation in the sector has driven RIA firm owners to pursue M&A-based growth, leading to a significant need for scalable solutions that allow for quick and efficient onboarding and education of new staff and advisors, new account openings and helping clients transition existing accounts to their advisors’ new firms, the companies pointed out.

Once an RIA establishes a direct agreement with CogniCor, its digital assistant will “facilitate a seamless experience for advisors,” the firms said. The RIA can then integrate these solutions into their day-to-day operations, boosting efficiencies and automating critical back-office functions, they noted.

Sequoia, one of Schwab’s largest RIA customers, is working closely with CogniCor to test the latter’s latest AI-enabled solution, the Meeting Assistant, on a large scale, the firms said.

Orion Updates Texas LoneStar 529 Plan

Orion Advisor Solutions and the Texas Prepaid Higher Education Tuition Board announced new enhancements to the latter’s LoneStar 529 Plan that is managed by Orion and administered by the board.

Among the updates, new class RIA units were introduced that Orion said Thursday were designed to be sold via fee-based advisors with no plan-level sales charges or distribution fees.

Other significant changes include reduced plan-level fees, replacing age-based portfolios with target enrollment year portfolios, and the reduction of sales charges from 5.75% to 2.75% for Class A units.

Individual asset class portfolio options were also significantly expanded with the addition of several new asset classes, including a Guaranteed Interest Account.

Investing in an IRC Section 529 college savings plan early has several benefits, including tax-advantaged investing, estate planning benefits control and flexibility, accessibility, and affordability, Orion pointed out.

With the LoneStar 529 Plan, advisors and their clients can now select from portfolios based on a target enrollment year or their specific risk tolerance and create custom portfolios from a wide range of individual asset class options, according to Orion.

The plan’s shift to a target enrollment year structure was designed to make the “reduction of equity risk smoother along the investment glide path and mitigate the risk of large market movements on the portfolios,” Orion added.

Envestnet Appoints ESG Head

Envestnet appointed Ron Ransom to serve as group head of its Environmental, Social and Governance office, a newly created role the firm said was designed to bring a centralized focus to ESG activities across the company.

Ransom will report directly to Dawn Newsome, chief business operations officer of Envestnet.

As group head of ESG, Ransom will lead companywide efforts developing programs and policies to support Envestnet’s corporate ESG efforts, it said. He will “partner closely with divisions throughout the company, including the Sustainable Investing group within Envestnet | PMC,” according to the firm.

Sustainable investing is a major component of Envestnet’s financial wellness ecosystem, it said, noting PMC’s Sustainable Investing team helps advisors “integrate this type of investing into their practices, and helps their clients find ways to generate greater social or environmental impact through their investments.”

The ESG office “will focus on building strong relationships in the communities in which Envestnet operates and seek opportunities in which Envestnet can lead the industry,” according to the company.

Ransom has almost three decades of financial services experience and most recently served as chief business development officer at Envestnet, where he was responsible for managing Envestnet’s go-to-market strategy, it said.

Before joining Envestnet, Ransom had executive positions at Nationwide Financial, UBS and Bank of America.

New Impact Investing Platform Created

Investment and product development executives Josh Hile and Marshall Dunford announced the formation of Citizen Mint, a new impact investing platform it said was designed to help investors generate both financial returns and positive societal and environmental impacts.

The new company enters the sector as interest in impact investing has reached an all-time high, especially among Gen X and millennials, according to Citizen Mint.

Citizen Mint will focus exclusively on private market investment opportunities and use a proprietary process to source and conduct due diligence on high value investment opportunities, it said. The company will also offer a simple user interface allowing investors to select specific projects and interest areas and monitor investment impact and performance, it said.

Before launching Citizen Mint, Hile, who is serving as CEO, held investment and leadership roles at Russell Investments and, most recently, as director of investment strategy and research at Laird Norton Wealth Management, a $16 billion RIA and trust company specializing in impact investing.

Dunford, who is serving as chief technology officer, previously worked as a software engineer across various industries.

(Image: Shutterstock) 


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