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New Generation Tech Tools Amp Up Advisor Effectiveness

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Tony Petrilli has waited a long time for this.

“I dreamed of this technology for 30 years, technology that allowed rapid development and customization on the front without being constrained by the operational controls required on the back end, and it is finally here,” says the CEO of ViewTrade Holdings.

The technology he dreamed of during all those years as a senior executive at financial companies, he says, will give Registered Investment Advisors the ability to customize their platform to their investment process, with tools specifically geared to giving them an edge.  It’s the technology ViewTrade Institutional has developed.

Though ViewTrade Securities has been providing technology services for financial firms around the world for nearly 20 years, ViewTrade Institutional is a new player in the custodial space for RIAs, with a solution rich in investment decision-making tools and the full set of operational and administrative tools for smooth operation of the RIA.  

The Market

“Roughly 68 percent of advisors are still true investment managers,” says Steve Sak, Sales Executive for ViewTrade Institutional. “They develop their own portfolios, their own strategies.”

But many of those advisors lack sophisticated software tools to help them make the best decisions in today’s algorithm-driven trading environment. Many of the platforms provided by custodians to advisors are built on old technology, focused on operational and administrative aspects of the business.  “But the main job of the RIA is to use their skills and experience as an investor. The agreement they sign with their client is called an investment management agreement, not an operational and administrative agreement,” says Petrilli.

“You can look at the platforms other custodians provide, and what do you see? You see a retail, self-directed brokerage platform with a few more operational and administrative capabilities.   Those custodians say go ahead and run your business on that,” says Petrilli. “Well that’s not what the RIA is being paid to do. They are paid to invest. So, to help with this, what do these same custodians do?  They give the advisor access to the same ‘research’ that they give their self-directed retail customers. Well, investing is not just news feeds, or charts, or fundamentals. It certainly is not just reading headline research notes and what someone else thinks the target price is or buy or sell decision should be.  That’s out of date.”

He points out that institutions have gone well beyond those approaches. “Today, investing has become more science than art, too much science in my opinion, and the RIA needs tools to look deeper into the market to find where and how money is flowing in and out.  Chart patterns and trends need to be evaluated based on probabilities. The current investment environment needs to be understood from all angles. In other words, the RIA needs to understand the algo factors that drive the market behavior just as much as understanding the company or industry or sector.    They are looking for the edge that their client is paying them to have” he says, “and to do this, they need tools that provide insight.”

Institutional-level tools for any advisor

ViewTrade Institutional has built such tools. The company’s AlphaToolsTM help advisors spot market opportunities by providing highly-graphical visualizations of market interactions and supplement the advisor’s expertise with tools that track the ebb and flow of money in markets, from seasonality data, to options radar, to relative strength vs. any benchmark, and beyond. “In financial markets, you need to participate in the flow,” he says.

What these AlphaToolsTM created by ViewTrade Institutional are doing is finding elements of alpha. Once they can see that, advisors can incorporate the information with their own intuition and expertise.

Technology covering the entire RIA process

The idea behind ViewTrade Institutional’s newly-developed technology is to address the core business of RIAs—investing, while still giving the RIA a complete set of operational and administrative solutions to run their business efficiently.  

“Delivering a platform that meets the needs of each constituent within the RIA firm—the client, the investment officer, the trader, the client service representative, the operations associate, the compliance officer, the third-party manager, and the robo offering of the firm, requires a whole different type of technology.  You must look at it from a completely different perspective. You have to move away from technology built around core processing and control toward technology built around digitized services.”

“We have done this using very modern technology on the front-end, with APIs to the back-end and middle office so that the front-end can be customized without worrying about the impact downstream” say Petrilli. “This allows our platform to be connected to any custodian, any specialized tool set, portfolio reporting tool set, and any data and information source that the advisor needs to customize the RIA’s investment process, while also giving the RIA the ability to customize the operational and administrative processes.  The ability to publish online newsletters to clients and prospects, access financial news, live TV feeds, and tailor the end clients’ online experience complements that full technology offering.”

While other technology firms are attacking some of these issues, he says ViewTrade Institutional has an advantage because ViewTrade Securities operates a broker-dealer as well as being a technology firm. “We have been providing business-to-business-to-consumer services for decades.  And we understand what it takes to run an efficient and highly scalable financial services business. By combining institutional brokerage with technology, we can provide our RIA client with very cost-effective services, improving the RIA’s profitability while also facilitating growth, investment performance, and customer loyalty to the RIA. “   

“We’re coming at it from being operators in this business without being a competitor to our client,” Petrilli says. “We take that experience right to our technology and how we price our service, and that gives us greater flexibility in partnering with our RIA client that just can’t be matched by technology-only firms.”

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