Fidelity Investments launches wealth management platform for independent advisors

Source: Fidelity Investments

Fidelity Investments (Fidelity) today announced the formal launch of Fidelity WealthCentral (WealthCentral), the industry's first Web-based wealth management platform that integrates Registered Investment Advisors' (RIA) most critical operational systems.

WealthCentral brings together portfolio management, customer relationship management (CRM), financial planning, portfolio rebalancing and trading into one unified workstation. The platform has been implemented with 25 clients, and will be rolled out to Fidelity's remaining 3,500 RIA clients throughout 2009 and 2010.

Fidelity today also released results from a study(1) conducted by Moss Adams(2) on its behalf that found that RIAs that have integrated core technology applications made 36 percent higher revenue per professional and 30 percent higher profits per owner, compared to those firms that have not integrated.

"Since we announced the development of WealthCentral, the response from advisors has been overwhelming," said Scott Dell'Orfano, executive vice president, Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services. "Now more than ever, advisors see that efficiency is a way to help enhance profitability. WealthCentral is designed to address this need by helping to relieve advisors of the burdens of managing technology and conducting data reconciliation. We are confident WealthCentral will help transform the way advisors approach their business."

"With WealthCentral, Fidelity is offering both a line-up of 'best-of-breed' third-party business applications and an unprecedented level of technology integration. The result of this combination is a well-rounded wealth management platform for registered investment advisors," said Alois Pirker, senior analyst, Aite Group. "Aite Group's most recent research indicates that RIAs are demanding this type of advisor platform. Fidelity is leading the way in addressing these requirements."

WealthCentral Designed to Help Transform the Way Advisors Conduct Business

WealthCentral offers advisors several benefits, including: more streamlined workflows, a comprehensive client view, and centralized support, all via a single interface. Traditionally, advisors have had to manually enter data into various applications, which may increase the potential for errors. Unlike any other platforms in the industry, WealthCentral's core applications are all compatible with each other, so that advisors will only have to enter client information into their system once. The system then automatically updates, and through the integration of Advent Back Office Services (ABOS), reconciles information across the platform's various applications. And because WealthCentral is Web-based, with all applications and client data hosted by Fidelity and third-party providers, it can dramatically help simplify an advisor's need to manage technology.

Advisors can also benefit from the integration of market-leading third-party capabilities, including:

  • Portfolio Management -- Utilizing Advent's APX-hosted multi-custodial platform via ABOS, this application can help enable quicker trading decisions and more reliable client reporting.
  • CRM -- A customized version of Oracle's CRM On Demand system specifically designed for RIAs to manage all aspects of their client and prospect relationships.
  • Financial Planning -- Utilizing Emerging Information System Inc.'s NaviPlan Central, this application offers advisors holistic, goal- and cash flow-based plans to help them address the complex planning needs of their clients.
  • Portfolio Rebalancing -- Leveraging the technology and portfolio modeling and rebalancing expertise of Northfield Information Services, these tools allow advisors to use rules and risk factors to help identify, measure and manage overall portfolio risk for their accounts.
  • Account Servicing and Trading -- All of the third-party capabilities within WealthCentral are integrated with Fidelity's account servicing and trading platform. Advisors can conduct online cashiering, service requests, and new account opening, helping them enhance customer service by maintaining control over their service transactions and reduce errors.

"WealthCentral isn't just another technology architecture for advisors, it's a platform that can help facilitate a better way of doing business," said Edward O'Brien, senior vice president, Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services. "We believe there's a reason why no other custodian has been able to deliver anything like this before: Because building a single platform requires a significant capital investment and a tremendous commitment of staff time and resources to seamlessly integrate separate business applications."

"A team of over 250 individuals has spent two years working closely with our third-party business providers to develop hundreds of modules in order to get the systems to virtually talk with one another. WealthCentral's architecture is unique in our industry -- that's why we have a patent pending," added O'Brien.

New Fidelity Research Shows Shift Toward Integration

According to the new Fidelity research, RIAs report that they are well aware of the benefits of integration with over two-thirds (69 percent) indicating they are either integrating systems or have attempted to do so at some point in their firms' history. Advisors see the No. 1 benefit of integration as greater operational efficiencies, followed by improved productivity and reduced manual input time. And 64 percent indicate that a single, integrated platform would be valuable to their business.

However, despite the potential to increase profits and productivity, integration remains a challenge for some firms. The research found that the No. 1 reason for not pursuing integration is the inability to identify an appropriate solution.

"Most advisors did not pursue this profession to manage technology," said Dell'Orfano. "With our $50 million investment in WealthCentral, we focused on what advisors have told us they need to serve their clients and successfully grow their businesses. Through its industry-leading third-party integration, WealthCentral allows Fidelity to offer advisors an easier way to help them manage their technology, so they can focus on what they do best, helping their clients."

1) Fielding of the survey took place from February 25 to April 9, 2008 and draws on data submitted by hundreds of financial advisory firms who responded to the 2008 Moss Adams Financial Performance Study of Advisory Firms. From this sample of firms, 470 met our criteria for a complete and valid survey submission, including the minimum requirements of at least one year in business, $50,000 in annual gross revenue, operating as solely or primarily as an RIA and reporting assets under management (AUM) for 2005 to 2007.

2) Moss Adams LLP, the 11th largest accounting and consulting firm in the United States, provides accounting, tax, and consulting services to public, private, and nonprofit enterprises in many different industries. Moss Adams is an independent company and not affiliated with Fidelity Investments.

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