The Fintech Revolution Is Here

How RIAs Can Adapt and Thrive

Written by

David Beazley

Published on


6 min

This post is a crucial read for RIAs navigating the fintech transformation in wealth management. It not only highlights the imperative for RIAs to adapt to burgeoning fintech innovations like AI, blockchain, and big data but also showcases successful integration stories. David Beazley, Managing Partner at Alumni Ventures, offers a rich exploration of how these technologies enhance client service, drive efficiency, and ensure sustainable growth, especially amidst the largest wealth transfer in history. By presenting a blend of industry trends, success stories like Morgan Stanley’s use of AI, and actionable fintech solutions, the blog serves as a roadmap for RIAs to future-proof their business in this dynamic landscape.


David Beazley
David Beazley
Managing Partner, Alumni Ventures

From the discipline derived from Division 1 athletics to the entrepreneurial spirit fostered through the nation’s top journalism school, my foray into finance has been anything but conventional. Post graduate school I developed an alternative investment strategies newsletter, targeting high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) and financial service professionals. I then pivoted to traditional wealth management, wielding Series 7 and Series 66 licenses. These combined experiences, deeply immersed in the world of Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs), sharpened my acumen in guiding HNWIs through the complexities of both traditional and nontraditional investments. It also fueled my passion for the financial sector, and propelled me into venture capital.

The pace of fintech innovation is accelerating, revolutionizing the wealth management landscape. RIAs need to proactively adapt or risk falling behind more nimble competitors. RIAs must prepare for the next generation investors, especially as we approach the greatest wealth transfer in history. As baby boomers convey trillions to their heirs, these younger, more tech-savvy investors will look for smarter, innovative ways to manage their money. This blog provides key insights on fintech tools and trends, plus tangible steps RIAs can take to leverage these technologies for enhanced client service, improved efficiency, and future-proofed growth.

This blog represents the essence of a lifelong learning journey, offering insights into the ever-evolving and intersecting landscapes of venture and wealth management. My goal is to share perspectives, illuminate paths, and empower others to thrive in this dynamic space.

— David Beazley, Managing Partner at Alumni Ventures

Learn About Our Offerings for Wealth Managers

AV provides a range of solutions for wealth managers who want to maintain a competitive edge. Venture capital can bring multiple benefits to your clients’ alternative assets. Click below to discover more.

The Winds of Change: Industry Momentum Demands RIA Adaptation

The fintech revolution is well underway, and signs point to more disruption ahead. In a recent survey by Deloitte on retooling wealth management, more than half of wealth management clients expressed a willingness to utilize automated advisors in the future. The message for RIAs is unambiguous — adapt quickly or risk obsolescence.

Investment in fintech startups has skyrocketed globally and in the Americas specifically, with particular growth in the wealth management sector. According to CB Insights, global fintech investment jumped more than 300% from 2017 to 2022, reaching $247 billion. Funding for wealthtech hit $15 billion in 2022, up 156% year over year.

While investment cooled in 2023, the wealthtech sector remains strong. For example, Altruist, the modern custodian and portfolio management software for RIAs, closed a $112 million Series D in April 2023, specifically to take on Schwab and Fidelity in the $128 trillion RIA market. Other categories receiving fintech funding last year include, but are not limited to, automated client outreach, blockchain and crypto, data aggregation, and, of course, AI-powered analytics.

The Winds of Change: Core Technologies Reshaping Wealth Management

According to Cerulli Associates, 12,000 registered investment advisors in the United States alone earn a combined $200B/year in assets under management (AUM) fees. These RIAs must meet rapidly evolving investor expectations or risk revenue loss.

Technologies Driving Transformation

Client Outreach 

With the emergence of the digitally-native investor who expects bespoke correspondence, personalized and efficient client communications are paramount. For example AdvisorEngine utilizes client information to create targeted messaging, ensuring each outreach feels customized and relevant. By automating routine interactions, advisors can focus more on in-depth, client-centric services.

Blockchain & Crypto

By enhancing security, transparency, and compliance, blockchain’s distributed ledger technology promises to reduce transaction costs and streamline asset tokenization. Firms like Securrency (acquired by DTCC) and Harbor (acquired by BitGo) provide this infrastructure for RIAs. BitGo also recently launched their platform to help RIAs better manage crypto assets by integrating digital asset management with more traditional portfolio management platforms like Orion and InvestCloud.

Data Aggregation

Data aggregators like Quovo (now Plaid) focus on investment and brokerage data integration. This empowers advisors to construct comprehensive client profiles by securely connecting not only multiple wealth management sources like Vanguard and John Hancock, but also banking, trading, and other investment accounts. Plaid’s strategic acquisition of Quovo expands its capabilities in this space.

Artificial Intelligence

AI-powered robo-advisors such as Betterment and Wealthfront are achieving real traction by automating repetitive tasks, lowering investment minimums, and simplifying digital interfaces — all while generating quantitative investment recommendations. Robo-advisors use algorithms to manage portfolios, often based on Modern Portfolio Theory.

Although these services are easy, accessible, and cost-effective, neither AI nor automated services can fully replace human insight and emotional intelligence. The most successful RIAs will leverage fintech for efficiency while preserving their most valuable asset – personalized relationships.

Prudently adopting fintech solutions can help RIAs transform organization, insights, and engagement. Here are proven solutions worth evaluating:

Client Relationship Management

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    CRM, branded portal, and client engagement platform
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    Streamlined CRM built specifically for financial advisors
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    Salesforce Financial Services Cloud

    Industry-specific CRM

Client Portals

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    Advisor Websites from AdvicePay

    Turnkey client portal solution
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    TradePMR AdvisorWare

    Interactive, customized client portals
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    Digital portal provider in a connected data ecosystem

Client Portals

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    Orion Advisor Technology

    Award-winning portfolio management and reporting
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    Sophisticated portfolio management and accounting
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    Comprehensive portfolio management tools

Marketing Automation

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    Snappy Kraken

    AI-optimized marketing automation for advisors
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    CRM and marketing automation in one platform
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    Social media and website automation

Marketing Automation

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    iCapital Network

    Comprehensive fintech platform for alternative investments
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    Real estate, marine, legal, and art finance opportunities
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    Alternative investment platform with portfolio analytics

Emerging startups like Savvy Wealth, Farther, and Vise, which offer new RIA platforms, automation, and AI assistance, are also worthy of consideration.

The innovation landscape evolves quickly, but these technologies demonstrate fintech’s potential for RIAs. Leaders will reinvent their value proposition by strategically adopting solutions aligned with their expertise.

AV’s Emerging Fintech Portfolio

The most active venture investor in the United States, Alumni Ventures, is closely watching this industry both for individuals and for the advisors that serve them and support clients’ financial decision making. Below I outline a few portfolio companies AV has invested in directly — from back-office infrastructure to personalized individual investment technologies.

For RIAs

  • Alto – Provides a portfolio diversification marketplace for advisors
  • True Link – Helps monitor and manage client spend and fund disbursement
  • VestMark – Technology solution for back-office functionality to improve client services

For Investors

  • Ellevest – Empowers women to build and manage their wealth
  • EarlyBird – Delivers family-focused investing in a simple, customized experience
  • OpenInvest (acquired by J.P. Morgan) – Provides streamlined sustainability investing opportunities and reporting
  • Pattern – Enables users to match with financial advisors for personal money management
  • Doorvest – Simplifies rental investing and allows professionals to invest directly in fully managed rental properties through their platform
  • Dub – FINRA, SEC-approved social brokerage application for copy-trading
  • Circle – Global crypto-currency exchange
  • Moby – Investment and financial industry newsletter platform that provides expert analysis and in-depth advice for both professionals and individual investors.

On Our Radar

  • Alphathena – AI-powered, direct indexing platform for RIAs to build and optimize custom investment strategies for client portfolio optimization.
  • Allocate – Private market alternative investing operating system.

Learn About Our Offerings for Wealth Managers

AV provides a range of solutions for wealth managers who want to maintain a competitive edge. Venture capital can bring multiple benefits to your clients’ alternative assets. Click below to discover more.

Success Stories Showcase Impact

We can already see clear signs of progress in implementing novel fintech solutions, platforms, and automation from small firms to some of the world’s largest financial advisors.

AI powered technology is transforming the way firms service and support their staff and clients. The impact (of AI) will be very significant, potentially comparable to the advent of the internet.

—Sal Cucchiara, Morgan Stanley’s Chief Information Officer of Wealth and Investment Management.

  • Fidelity Investments is also investing in AI for wealth management. Catchlight, a company incubated at Fidelity Labs, is an AI-powered platform to support RIAs with marketing and prospecting. Catchlight works with firms like Advisors Excel, an RIA that manages $18.5 billion in client funds to enhance their client prospecting and improve engagement and conversion.
  • Other wealth advisory firms are not only using new technology solutions, but also directly investing in the companies. Ritholtz Wealth Management helped lead the $8M seed round for data-sync software platform Dispatch, and is also a customer.
  • Boston-based Winthrop Wealth credits Addepar with allowing it to spend more time on client relationships by transitioning from an inefficient one-advisor model to a more scalable and productive business. Also using Addepar, multifamily office Signature Family Wealth Advisors saw assets under management jump from $1 billion to nearly $5 billion post-implementation for transparent reporting.
  • Aurum Wealth Management, with more than $700 million in AUM, leveraged Orion’s portfolio management technology to deliver superior client service and business intelligence at lower costs.
  • Silicon Valley-based Sand Hill Global Advisors evolved its decades-old practice by adopting eMoney Advisor financial planning software. It attracted new generations of tech entrepreneurs as clients.
  • At the behest of their investors, Advisor Group’s network of 7,000+ advisors uses iCapital’s platform to efficiently provide clients access to an expanded menu of alternative investments.

All these successes demonstrate that prudent fintech adoption allows RIAs to gain competitive advantages and deliver enhanced value.

The Time Is Now

Fintech adoption is reaching a tipping point. Top RIAs are proactively enhancing offerings through new technologies. M&A activity is accelerating as digitally fluent firms acquire less tech-savvy competitors. By embracing this change, forward-thinking RIAs can deliver unparalleled value and differentiate through tech-enabled client experiences. Leaders will separate quickly from laggards in the new era of financial advice. The time for action is now.

Learn About Our Offerings for Wealth Managers

AV provides a range of solutions for wealth managers who want to maintain a competitive edge. Venture capital can bring multiple benefits to your clients’ alternative assets. Click below to discover more.

This communication is from Alumni Ventures, a for-profit venture capital company that is not affiliated with or endorsed by any school. It is not personalized advice, and AV only provides advice to its client funds. This communication includes forward-looking statements, generally consisting of any statement pertaining to any issue other than historical fact, including without limitation predictions, financial projections, the anticipated results of the execution of any plan or strategy, the expectation or belief of the speaker, or other events or circumstances to exist in the future. Forward-looking statements are not representations of actual fact, depend on certain assumptions that may not be realized, and are not guaranteed to occur. Any forward-looking statements included in this communication speak only as of the date of the communication. AV and its affiliates disclaim any obligation to update, amend, or alter such forward-looking statements, whether due to subsequent events, new information, or otherwise.