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Fidelity, TD Ameritrade Heavily Discount Lead Gen Tools

By Murray Coleman October 16, 2017

Advisors can pay thousands of dollars to buy lists of potential clients. Or they can spend less and sharpen their social media skills through LinkedIn. But critics complain both methods are time consuming and less-than-ideal ways to tailor marketing campaigns to each advisor’s unique client base.

Highly customizable off-the-shelf “lead generation” software is advancing, say technology experts. The combination of greater access to wealth-specific industry data, better integration capabilities, highly intuitive interfaces and more competition is seen as driving down prices.

That’s especially true for firms that can buy licenses covering multiple advisors and their staffs, notes Anand Sekhar, a practice management executive at Fidelity.

“At the end of the day, advisors who want to grow their practices are finding advances in lead generation software now able to introduce a level of depth in marketing that hasn’t been available in the past,” he says.

Working with one of the more experienced players in the field, Infinata, the Boston-based custodian and asset manager is offering such technology at a 75% discount to RIAs and broker-dealers using its platform.

Likewise, TD Ameritrade says it’s making available to advisors at “steep” discounts lead-gen apps from the software developer, which is now part of GlobalData.

In fact, that online app, High Net Worth Insight, has been offered through the broker-dealer’s third-party platform of pre-negotiated and pre-vetted technology solutions for years, says Vanessa Oligino, TD Ameritrade’s director of business performance solutions.

But more recently, she notes, Infinata’s app has become one of TD Ameritrade’s most popular independently produced tech tools.

“For advisors who are interested in focusing on growth, the sophistication of this type of program is making manual sorting through outside lists and social media tools less appealing,” Oligino says.

The reasons aren’t just due to improved technologies. Industry benchmarking research conducted by her group indicates just 10% of U.S. advisors consider their current marketing plans as producing “effective” results.

Vanessa Oligino

“Most firms are telling us that they see a need to more aggressively pursue outside marketing as a way to spur future growth,” Oligino says.

Smaller competitors selling lead generation software to wirehouses and broker-dealers include New York-based Relationship Science, which is now offering individual licenses for up to $49 a month. For larger user groups, that rate is “negotiable,” says Neal Goldman, the tech developer’s chairman.

Also worth noting is that core financial planning software developers are integrating more lead generation tools into their lineups, including Fidelity’s eMoney suite.

“This technology is becoming affordable to the point where one advisor can realize significant time and monetary savings from doing it the old-fashioned way,” says Bryce Buckley, head of Infinata’s wealth management products.

A solo advisor can now get the complete HNW suite for less than $2,000 a year, he estimates. Group rates can usually be negotiated for less than $1,000 annually, according to Buckley.

Subscriptions provide access to a database of more than 1.5 million corporate execs with at least $250,000 in liquid investable assets, Buckley points out. “We’ve built robust profiles on each person,” he says.

Fidelity’s heavily discounted rate off the retail Infinata suite’s price is white-labeled as Referral Edge. “Nobody has a marketing budget to do everything, but this software is a package that we’ve found to be the most cost-effective so far on the market,” says Chris Thomas, managing director at Massey Quick Simon in Morristown, N.J., an independent RIA that manages more than $2.4 billion.

With a focus on serving as a multi-family office, the firm’s staff has tried different tools from Bloomberg and others that track highly liquid M&A events by ultra-high net worth investors. Those services were just too generalized and required lots of manual intervention, Thomas says.

Along with his colleagues, he has also tried LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator service. Thomas, though, finds it’s too limited to “who you know” in that network. He also believes such a tool’s private email functions can’t deliver “warm introductions” for advisors.

“We found that paying for this type of social media tool just didn’t reach a level of functionality worth the time and cost involved — the response rates were just too low for our tastes,” Thomas says.

Data points come from a combination of public filings, regulatory reports, real estate listings, a variety of social media networks and corporate websites. Massey Quick Simon, which uses Fidelity as its custodian, has been using Referral Edge for about two years.

“This lead generation software doesn’t replace our traditional relationship building process,” Thomas says. “But in terms of setting up meetings with new families who aren’t directly referred to us by our existing clients, we feel like this technology now has the capabilities to give us more highly defined leads. It’s giving us the raw ammunition needed to effectively attack the wealth marketplace.”