WealthStack Roundup: Principal Teams with YieldX, Smartleaf on Direct Indexing for Bonds

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On Thursday, the global active investing firm Principal Asset Management announced a collaboration with two other companies, the fixed income technology platform YieldX and Smartleaf Asset Management.

The result of that partnership is an enhancement to Principal’s model portfolio offering, first rolled out in 2022 (also built in partnership with Smartleaf), which can now incorporate individual bonds.

With the offering, Principal lays claim to being the first full portfolio direct indexing solution, meaning beyond equities to include individual bonds.

Smartleaf, which has been around for years, has long been known for its trading and rebalancing technology in addition to its latest efforts in direct indexing. YieldX, which launched in September 2020 with its core suite of fixed income search, analytics and portfolio-building tools, has since integrated with many third-party technology providers and custodians.

Modern Life Partners With Pacific Life

Dealing with life insurance has long remained one of the aspects of their clients’ financial lives that advisors love to hate.

Modern Life, a startup technology provider that launched out of stealth in August, is on a mission to make advisors’ lives easier by empowering them to compare life insurance quotes from carriers in minutes as well as perform data-driven underwriting assessments, and manage clients from a modern user interface and dashboard.

Modern Life, which refers to itself as a tech-enabled life insurance brokerage, announced this week its latest distribution partnership with Pacific Life Insurance Company. Advisors will now have access to Pacific Life’s product portfolio through the tech platform.

Pacific Life joins 15 other carriers that have partnered with the startup, including John Hancock, Lincoln, AIG and Prudential, among others.

And the company’s platform, which is licensed in all 50 states, provides access to the full suite of insurance products, including permanent life, term life, long-term care and disability.

At its launch out of stealth, the company had $15 million in seed funding, led by Thrive Capital (which also recently invested in the tech-enabled RIA Savvy Wealth), along with 12 founders from startups that had attained unicorn status, including At Bay, Cedar, Flatiron Health, Hippo, Lattice, Newfront, Plaid, Reddit and Vouch.

Advisor360° Acquires Technology Remains of Agreement Express

Agreement Express as a brand and company is no more, but its technology will live on.

Advisor360° announced this week it had acquired the digital onboarding and other wealth management-related assets of provider Agreement Express. Terms of the deal were not disclosed and the purchase was completed in December.

That acquisition was made from private equity firm Frontier Growth, which took a majority stake in Agreement Express in 2018 (the firm also made a big investment in the popular advisor CRM application Wealthbox in 2022).

Once the technology is integrated, Advisor360° will be able to seamlessly support investment and insurance accounts at every major custodian and clearing firm and further expand integrations with CRM providers.

Agreement Express was known for enabling advisors to digitally prepopulate new account forms and distribute them to clients who could then electronically sign them, among other features.

This is the first deal for Advisor360°, a software-as-a-service platform for independent advisors that was spun out of Commonwealth Financial Network as an independent business in April 2019. The firm won a Wealth Management Industry Award in 2022 for achievement in unified (all-in-one) systems by technology providers for the rollout of its digital onboarding technology.

Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company is currently Advisor360°’s largest customer, with the software being used by that firm’s more than 7,500 advisors.

In the announcement, Advisor360° noted the acquisition would likely help the firm with future development work, including “expanded automation and streamlining of paper and electronic workflows; simplified information gathering, organization, and bundling; new digital signing features; and bulk advisor onboarding for team hires or new office acquisitions.”

Former IBD Exec Joins Carefull

Jim Norwood, former president of financial institutions at Securities America, is joining Carefull to lead its efforts at driving adoption among advisors, banks and credit unions.

Carefull is a service and application for monitoring and protecting the finances and personal data of loved ones, primarily older adults, by creating a secure digital circle of care among family, caregivers and advisors.

Norwood has spent the past five years with Securities America; prior to that, he served in a variety of executive roles throughout his 30-year career, including an 18-year stint at LPL.

In November, Carefull announced it had monitored and analyzed $2 billion in transactions to protect clients from fraud and financial threats in 2022.

The company has partnerships with Cetera Financial Group and Nationwide Insurance.