July 23, 2018
It just may be. Envision’s Fundkeeper Solution has materialized, and it is delivering correspondent broker-dealers a new mutual fund clearing option.
Let’s be honest, direct mutual fund transactions have always been a painful experience for all involved. Whether it be the investor, the advisor’s team, or a broker-dealers’ back office, the “check, and app” experience is rife with inefficiency, limited transparency, and compliance headaches.
The ongoing combination of the advisors love affair with an insurance-like dated paper experience, along with its commissions and trails, and the mutual fund companies who have long declined to automate their account opening processes demanding wet signatures, to name a few.
The result is a form of disparate processing, management and reporting anarchy that drains broker-dealers resources and causes enormous amounts of frustration.
We’ve seen many broker-dealers try to solve their direct-business transaction dilemma. Best Interest was the most recent catalyst. Firms looked to their clearing firms, only to be derailed by their inability to change traditional advisor behavior, along with the increasing fee conversations.
Add to that the fact that “going brokerage” is not the easiest exercise, especially when your broker-dealer has decades of direct transactions it’s responsible for overseeing.
When we initially looked at FundKeeper, we wondered if the platform could streamline the mutual fund transaction, payment, and accounting process for broker-dealers, and deliver as advertised.
Some background information on the solution. It’s a mutual fund clearing platform developed by Envision Financial and U.S. Bancorp Fund Services. Envision Financial has its roots in mutual fund shareholder record keeping including omnibus accounting and with supporting 529 type accounts.
U.S. Bank is a Top 5 major bank that also has a transfer agent and can provide customer support capabilities. Together, they developed the FundKeeper platform, delivering broker-dealers a mutual fund-only clearing platform.
We found validation of FundKeeper’s benefits within a broker-dealer use case that’s proving Envision and U.S. Bank “may have a tiger by the tail.”
The use case centers around CUSO Financial. Serving credit unions and bank programs, CUSO/Sorrento Pacific Financial, whom Atria Wealth Solutions acquired last year and earlier this year also acquired Cadaret Grant, is one of the more innovative firms we see in the retail wealth marketplace, and a firm we keep an eye on.
Earlier this year CUSO rolled out FundKeeper with very positive feedback.
“FundKeeper has allowed advisors on the CUSO system to get the benefits of scale and lower cost,” Monica Daggs, CAO of CUSO, shared.” “We wanted to move beyond the operational ‘status quo’ of paper-based direct business. It’s important for our firm, and the firms we represent, to own the advisor experience, and FundKeeper’s consolidated accounts and API file strategy allows us to control that user experience.”
Going beyond Daggs thoughts, Ian Martin, EVP of U.S. Bancorp Fund Services, sees “FundKeeper helps solve the bulk of operational challenges that broker-dealers are facing today supporting the direct business mutual fund business model.”
“The FundKeeper platform streamlines the onboarding, transfer, maintenance and post-transaction data flow and reporting of direct mutual funds,” Martin added.
So, a validated mutual fund only platform that provides broker-dealers, and their advisors, with a lower cost, highly automated, one-stop shop for direct mutual funds. Those reasons are why we took a more in-depth look.
Dysfunctional inefficiencies describe the existing mutual fund check and application approach. For broker-dealers that feels like their direct business is an albatross around their proverbial necks, the FundKeeper platform is a new option.
Based on our demonstrations and conversations, FundKeeper provides the tool chest for a simpler, lower-cost, and streamlined way to process direct mutual fund transaction automation, that includes cash management, consolidated statements, data feeds and enhanced compliance.
Daggs noted that over half of CUSOs advisors had adopted the system, and one even said, “Why would I ever do a direct to fund transaction outside of FundKeeper, ever again?”
We classify FundKeeper as a conversation changer for broker-dealers that are trying to solve their direct mutual fund quandary.