Grow and Retain Prospects With Cost-Effective Technology The StoneBridge Way
You know the prospects you want, kids of good clients or spouses with a 401(k); you don’t want to turn them away but how can you serve them cost-effectively?
Sophisticated wealth management firms on a growth trajectory—or those seeking to hit a growth stride—are taking a hard look at ways technology can both cut costs and increase efficiency.
A hybrid RIA with approximately $1 billion in AUM, Stonebridge operates as a branch under the registered investment advisor Triad Hybrid solutions. The firm is headquartered about 90 miles outside Philadelphia. With 21 staff divided between two locations in Pennsylvania, leaders at the firm needed to bring in a solution that struck a balance between many factors.
First among these was being able to serve lower AUM clients, whether the children of clients, spouses or other prospective clients with potential. Being weighed was the need for a platform that could not only help the firm provide sound financial advice, and do so cost-effectively but one that was also as automated as possible and flexible.
We have learned portfolio analyst Kristopher Korzi and advisor Bradley Sanders, have been at the forefront of efforts rolling out the automated digital wealth solution to clients.
“We came to AdvisorEngine specifically for their technology,” explained Korzi, adding that the firm offers three different avenues of advice. Prior to rolling out the platform offering from AdvisorEngine clients fell into three categories at Stonebridge. There were those clients that just needed or wanted pure asset management. Then there were the firm’s fee-for-service financial planning clients who desired to invest on their own but just needed some extra help. And finally there were the firm’s full service clients.
“As a business we also work with 150 retirement plans and between 6,000 and 7,000 participants,” Korzi said, adding that no matter which of the firm’s offerings you are talking about, sometimes spouses or others have assets they want to roll in. Or there are those folks that need less service, for which the AE platform is a good fit.
The culture of the founders
Korzi and Sanders described how the founders, through many years of experience, discovered that rather than be turned away, prospects possessing fewer assets were still open to the idea of a simpler relationship with less handholding.
In other words, the founders concluded that if they could offer a prospect with fewer assets a more automated and lower-cost alternative to a full service relationship those clients were more often than not open to the idea.
And that is where the idea for the firm’s StonePath Digital Wealth offering originated.
Flexibility and customization
Korzi explained that there were multiple reasons behind the firm’s decision in selecting the AE offering after researching several others.
“Flexibility and customization was much better than the other platforms we looked at,” he said, adding, “for example the risk questionnaire we ended up using our own custom creation.”
The digital account opening was another positive for the firm.
“It looks clean and gets you [as the client] through the account opening process quickly, including the risk tolerance and on into Docusign,” Sanders said.
Sanders also reported the integration between AdvisorEngine and TD Ameritrade Institutional as the custodian and its iRebal rebalancing application was comprehensive and easy for the team to implement as well.
“When a new account comes online it does so seamlessly,” Sanders said.
That is not to say there were no hiccups along the way, most technology rollouts have their share.
“A lot of it had to do with us being a hybrid, there were a lot of additional features we needed AE to build onto our implementation of Docusign that slowed things down a little bit but now we are off and running,” Korzi said, noting that the firm hoped to push it out to all 6,000 of its plan participant clients in the near term.
Integrations, planning and account aggregation
“One of the reasons we signed up with both AdvisorEngine and TDAI was that we could run our own models on there—other systems and platforms we evaluated required us to use their models,” Korzi said.
The ability to customize their installation of the AdvisorEngine offering with WisdomTree models helps get clients acclimated to the Stonebridge way of doing things.
“This is kind of our farm system,” Korzi said referring back to Sanders’s use of a baseball analogy earlier in the conversation. “We get them used to our models while using the platform and when they move up to the big leagues they are fairly accustomed to things,” Korzi added referring to the firm’s full service offering.
While Stonebridge uses the in-depth, sophisticated features of eMoney Advisor financial planning with its full service clients, the simpler and intuitive built-in planning found in AE’s platform works well for clients with less complex needs.
“Someone thinking about buying a house and needs to figure out how much money to put down, for those clients it is covering the basics,” Sanders noted.
“Another thing we use AE is for account aggregation,” Korzi said.
The lighter side
Both men are married but only Sanders has children thus far: three girls that keep he and his wife pretty busy.
Sanders enjoys golf, singing karaoke in his basement, is a baseball fan and is a connoisseur of craft beer, something there is no shortage of in that part of Pennsylvania.
When asked how many growlers he has: “More than I can fill but it goes bad so fast.”
Korzi for his part likes to hunt and cook. He prefers archery, and uses either a compound bow or crossbow in pursuit of local whitetail deer.
“I go every season,” he said noting that he tends to hunt from a tree stand. He did not get out as much last season as he has in the past.
“I had to cut down a little last year because we were changing broker-dealers in the fall,” he said.
When asked about his cooking prowess, Korzi made light of his skills.
“Mainly I like to grill. I didn’t say I was a great cook,” he added with a laugh.
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This blog is sponsored by AdvisorEngine Inc. (“AdvisorEngine”) The information, data and opinions in this commentary are as of the publication date, unless otherwise noted, and subject to change. This material is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered a recommendation to use AdvisorEngine or deemed to be a specific offer to sell or provide, or a specific invitation to apply for, any financial product, instrument or service that may be mentioned. AdvisorEngine makes no representations as to the accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made and will not be liable for any errors, omissions or representations. As a technology company, AdvisorEngine provides access to award-winning tools and will be compensated for providing such access. AdvisorEngine does not provide broker-dealer, custodian, investment advice or related investment services.
About Eamon McFadden
Eamon is involved with all aspects of our client on boarding process. He is determined to service advisors as best as possible, while enhancing our platform along the way. Eamon's background is in Electrical and Electronic Engineering where he gained hands-on, practical understanding of engineering systems and computers.