SEI enlists Gabe Garcia to create a technology platform for RIAs
SEI announced that it has hired Gabriel Garcia as Head of Client Experience, Business Development and RIA Strategy to lead the design and development of a suite of technologies to support the growth of Registered Investment Advisors who hold with SEI at all stages of their activity.
An industry veteran whose resume includes leadership roles at Charles Schwab, BNY Mellon | Pershing, E*TRADE Advisor Services and Cresset Capital Management, Garcia said SEI’s position as a financial technology custodian and provider is what sets it apart from countless others who have tried to develop end-to-end integrated technology solutions. for advisers.
“You have very capable, capable, cutting-edge fintech companies that provide outsourced technology capabilities, but they don’t offer custody,” he said. “And then you have very capable and capable custodians – the big three currently own around 90% of all RIA assets in the market – but they haven’t really broken through from a fintech solutions perspective.”
SEI was founded as a fintech company in 1968, at a time when global finance was just beginning to move towards digitalization. SEI Private Trust Company, the federal savings association through which it offers custodial services, was licensed 33 years later in 2001 – and SEI Wealth Platform, the first iteration of a suite of technology solutions end-to-end for advisors who own with SEI, was available in the United States 10 years later.
Five years ago, according to Garcia, SEI began rebuilding SWP from the ground up. “It’s the new age,” he said. “Not built on archaic technology, but very intuitive and digitally driven. And we will continue to evolve, iterate and add features based on advisor and client feedback.”
SEI’s Custody Technology Platform provides advisors with a way to consolidate model management, cash management, billing, performance reporting and more, while an architecture-based investment platform open allows them to manage their own portfolios, choose from SEI’s investment solutions, or a combination of the two, in a unified managed account framework.
As long as the company is owned by SEI, Garcia said, any combination of technologies is possible.
“We’ve reached a point where everyone is looking for a better workflow and a more unified platform,” said Dennis Gallant of Aite-Novarica Group. “They’re looking for digitization and access. Every business, whether you’re a wirehouse rep or an RIA, is looking to improve scale and customer experience.” Gallant said that RIAs, particularly and especially before the pandemic, were lagging behind in terms of technology that can make life easier for the advisor and the client.
As SEI’s Advisor Business Division has served the Independent Advisor market for more than three decades, the goal is to update and build on this long-standing reputation to position it as an end-to-end solutions provider. end-to-end for RIAs in particular, as well as as a partner who can help them grow their business. But that doesn’t mean other businesses can’t take advantage of SWP as well.
One of the new features that will be rolling out next month was developed based on customer portal technology acquired from Oranj just over a year ago. The new SEI Connect portal will offer full aggregation of all client accounts – from credit cards and checking accounts to car and mortgage loans, full performance reporting functionality, a vault that can be used by both the advisor and client (as well as a vault where clients can store documents privately), digital account opening capability and live chat capability. SEI had not responded before the press to a request for information about the account aggregation providers that powered the portal.
“It’s intuitive, it’s elegant, and it provides a great UI experience,” Garcia said, referring to the portal’s UI elements.
SEI will also launch an Advisor Growth Lab in July, which Garcia described as “a destination for RIAs to go and receive practice management information, tools and resources through research, video lessons, guides and communities where we bring advisors together to discuss things relevant to their roles in the organization or their business.
The Growth Lab initiative will be available to all interested advisors, he said, not just SEI clients.
“We support the counseling profession and believe in empowering counselors to protect the future of the clients they serve,” Garcia said. “We want to be seen as a trusted, transparent and aligned partner with RIAs when they seek custody, technology and investment solutions.”
“SEI certainly puts a lot of resources, time and effort into it,” said Gallant, acknowledging the many competitors in the field. He pointed out that the acquisition of Oranj was a smart investment to deliver an improved user experience and praised the platform’s flexibility, which he said is in increasing demand across the industry, but that smaller, newer businesses need most.
Garcia said the platform is especially well-suited to businesses that struggle with technology and would prefer a single, unified end-to-end experience with the ability for external integration.
“Whether you’re an advisor just starting a new RIA and looking for custodial and technology solutions or an established company that’s been in the business for 10 or 20 years and looking for something to complement their existing custodial technology solutions or wholesale change,” he said, “we’re open for business and happy to engage with anyone.”
As of March, SEI Advisor Business supports RIAs with approximately $29 billion on deposit, while SEI manages, advises, or administers approximately $1.3 trillion in total assets.