Ten years ago, outsourced portfolio management was still so exotic that we had to spend a lot of time every year simply reminding advisors not to confuse their professional worth with the work of picking the investments.
Now, after a decade of increasing comfort with technology, rising "robot" investment approaches and a market-rocking lockdown, TAMPs are no longer a novelty.
Advisors either understand what these platforms provide at this point or they're comfortable with the idea of retiring without ever bothering to find out.
For the ones who get it, the question isn't whether to delegate but which platforms make the best partners . . . and on those platforms, which strategists make the most sense as ultimate arbiters of how their clients invest.
To use a simple analogy, the TAMPs are the hardware providers. They make the "phones" that make modern wealth management conversations possible.
But the phones are just expensive toys unless you're using the right apps. That's the strategists available on each TAMP platform.
Some platforms spotlight unique approaches to the portfolio . . . run in house or by third parties with a next-generation vision of how to run money.
Others are fine with generic solutions that each address a broad slice of client needs more or less efficiently, without fretting too much over the intricacies.
The ones you pick out for your clients depends on your expertise and what's available. If your partner doesn't have the "killer app," you move.
And meanwhile, the strategists behind the investment models are naturally eager to expand their reach, too.
Some of those "app stores" can get pretty crowded. A simple quantitative screen either returns hundreds of lookalike models or only a few names.
In the former scenario, easy due diligence gravitates toward the biggest and best known fund complexes: the BlackRocks and Invescos that dominate the market landscape.
BlackRock and Invesco have signed up to be profiled in our new directory of this end of the industry, by the way.
When the Model Portfolios & SMA Strategists selection guide hits your screen on January 1, the trillion-dollar giants will get the treatment their scale deserves.
Model-only investing is a strategic priority for them. They already dominate the ETF market and now as those funds get built into unified portfolios, they want to make sure they maintain their relevance.
As far as I'm concerned, it's a declaration of war. If you're a fund company that isn't working as hard as it can to build models out of your solutions and get them in front of TAMP advisors, you're gambling with extinction.
Nobody wants to be a pure 40 Act mutual fund complex in an age of ETFs. Likewise, the days of the pure ETF provider spinning up endless unconnected portfolios are ending fast.
But beyond the giants, we're also making plenty of room for upstarts and innovators. Some are as new as it gets. Others have built a comfortable niche but now crave a bigger role.
Either way, I'm happy to talk about whether you have what it takes to interest our readers. Remember, they already embrace outsourced portfolios. They just don't know about you yet.
As far as I'm concerned, even a $30 million startup deserves the same space as a $9 trillion juggernaut. When you have the right client mix, both can play a crucial role.
Advisors know what they want. They'll "think different" if you have a compelling story to tell around the raw metrics.
How did you get that performance? How is it sustainable under various scenarios? What kind of client profile benefits from what you do?
It's all about matching the apps to the user. Our audience is finally on the app store, the TAMP.
That part is easy now. We're happy to keep steering advisors to the TAMP that makes the best fit for what they need and where they want to go.
But from there, the apps themselves are critical to client outcomes. The right choice can earn loyalty for generations to come. The wrong one can push accounts to a pure robo competitor.
TAMP advisors have already stepped up to show that they're more ambitious and alert than a lot of their peers who are only focused on retirement.
They want differentiated solutions. And I want to get those solutions in front of them.