Adding Planning Makes Orion A Triple Threat: Platform, Products And Now The Process

For advisors using a TAMP to manage money, the future is now clear as top integrations roll out from the back office through the portfolio all the way to client-facing systems.  

Orion Advisor Services made a splash last week buying financial planning software company Advizr but this is more than just another fold-in acquisition designed to extend an already-expansive wealth management platform.

For a company like Orion, this deal amounts to a quiet declaration of war on the industry as we know it. Suddenly the strategic picture snaps into focus.

Quite a few financial technology providers have grown to the point where they can handle every back office function, from accounting to client analytics and then on out to reporting and billing. 

But Advizr sits on the client end of the advisory relationship, as far front in the office as it gets. The system structures and supports the financial planning process, illustrating goals, progress and cash flow, right there in the client portal.

Advisors using Advizr can monitor a lot of financial plans in real time, acting as active coaches who can intervene at their discretion to get a plan back on track. 

I’ve seen a lot of financial planning tools over the years but this one is distinctive in the way it treats the plan as an emerging story and not a drafted-and-done archival document. And it does it right in front of the client, functioning more as a bank-style customer activity monitor than an advisor-facing planning system.

As of now, it’s part of the Orion ecosystem. When it’s completely integrated, the back office will have an open channel to the far front, welding the far ends of wealth management into a unified whole.

That’s a big deal in itself. The tool that supported the process on its own was powerful, but still just a tool advisors could program to aggregate client data, build the pretty graphs and then release into the client portal.

The Orion platform on its own brings a whole lot of power to the process, and now it’s all focused on feeding that single unified point of client contact. The rebalancing, the reporting, all the functionality refers back to the client, who can see and appreciate the added value.

Then things get REALLY interesting

Other reporting has already hinted at the way this combination lets Orion feed the equivalent of “robo planning” to advisors who never picked up that particular discipline. If you’ve skipped the plan or downplayed it as a necessary promotional headache, the solution is here.

And if you’ve innovated on the planning side, this will obviously a great way to leverage that proprietary expertise to get better outcomes for more people. One day you’ll be able to let the robo planner absorb your knowledge, turn it loose and when it encounters a situation that requires your attention, it will let you know.

The platform supports the automation. You can build the process or rely on what Advizr has already developed.

But the marriage of platform with process is only the opening act here. Orion’s real secret weapon is its affiliated universe of investment models via the company we used to call FTJ Fundchoice.

FTJ, now known as Orion Portfolio Solutions, builds and manages the portfolio, the piece that sits between back and front offices and gives the plan the instruments it needs to become reality.

If that piece is integrated into the planning process, everything runs from a single system. The investments are validated in the in-house platform. It’s literally plug and play.

Of course it’s open architecture, so if you want to bring in proprietary models from outside to meet unique situations or simply add value, go for it. Make it as complicated as you like.

But if pure efficiency is the goal, just push the buttons and watch the plan evolve, grab the assets it needs and then trade when needed to rebalance or simply liberate income to distribute.

Orion is explicitly targeting retirees and retirement plans here. Plan sponsors get a complete end-to-end solution. The advisors who want to work with those sponsors have all the tools they need to boost engagement, provide reasonable plans and better outcomes, and ultimately talk them into an individual client relationship.

“Bringing together these components will help advisors fulfill their fiduciary responsibilities regardless of the current regulations and cement their value to clients in a clear and measurable way,” CEO Eric Clarke promised in the press release.

And as FTJ CEO Dean Cook points out, now is the time.“With 10,000 baby boomers retiring each day, providing our advisors with a strong income-oriented proposal tool is a top priority for us.”

The integration should be ready later this year. For now, Orion and Advizr are holding a webinar in a few weeks to demonstrate the power of the end-to-end process. Registration is free.

Of course, if you aren’t outsourcing at least part of the client portfolio, it will be tough to take advantage of the opportunity. Our guide to joining the world of TAMP-enabled advisors is HERE


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