FintekNews is pleased to offer our weekly feature column 3 Questions. Each week, we feature a thought leader within a unique sector of fintech and ask them to answer just 3 questions for our audience in their vernacular. This week, we’d like to introduce you to Greg Vigrass, President of Folio Institutional®, a leading investment solutions and financial technology company that offers an integrated brokerage and custodial platform featuring patented, state-of-the-art trading, portfolio management tools, and private placement capabilities.
NAME: Greg Vigrass
COMPANY: Folio Institutional
WEB ADDRESS: https://info.folioinstitutional.com/
How did you personally become involved in FinTech?
I joined Folio in 2003, long before “FinTech” and “robo advisor” were common industry terms. What attracted me to Folio was that it was so far ahead of the curve in making it possible for advisors to provide clients with a streamlined investing experience.
In many respects, Folio was an early leader in the robo space because we provided such capabilities well before others in the industry caught on. We pioneered online account opening, straight-through e-signatures, online bank link creation for online ACH transfers and so much more, when so many did not – and still do not.
Folio remains innovative and continues to be a leading provider of FinTech services. Today, we offer several pioneering tools. They include our Tax Football, which helps advisors to project the maximum, realizable taxable gains and losses from a specific trade(s); modular robo technology; entirely online access to private and alternative investments; dollar-based and fractional share trading; model management technology; and online access to hundreds of third-party portfolios.
I speak with advisors and enterprises all the time about how Folio’s innovative services can help them respond to clients’ desire for a digital engagement. Not only do they recognize Folio’s long-standing history of and commitment to building new technology, but, they are also impressed with how the digital tools on our platform streamline and automate so many administrative tasks. They understand that we’re dedicated to helping firms differentiate and add value to their customer relationships.
What does your firm do/offer within the FinTech sector?
Advisors are facing an industry revolution: clients have come to expect technology in all aspects of their lives, and some segments of the financial services industry have struggled to keep pace. Clients now wield more control over the relationship with their advisor, and they demand 24/7/365 access to advice and their portfolios. This transformation challenges advisors to deliver value and stay relevant in a highly commoditized industry.
Folio’s paperless, comprehensive brokerage and custody solutions make it possible for an advisor to rise to this challenge. Our tax optimization tools, SRI (sustainable, responsible, impact) filters and model strategies are leading “FinTech” must-haves for all advisors, regardless of a client’s account size. We also offer a suite of digital engagement services that give advisors a way to meet the needs of all clients and prospects.
Today, more than 77 RIA firms are using Advisor ConnexionTM (AcX), Folio’s turnkey digital engagement solution. Advisors use it to quickly launch their own digital investing service, access new markets and give their clients a completely online account opening and funding experience. Advisors can also use AcX to add pricing plan options, their advisory agreement and an investor questionnaire that automatically maps clients to a designated model strategy or allocation based on their responses.
Folio’s suite of engagement tools also includes our API Service that gives advisors complete control over an investing website’s look, feel and functionality. Similar to AcX, our API service is combined with our powerful back-end clearing and custody platform. And, coming soon, Folio will offer a new robo investing platform that will leapfrog those currently on the market. We work with some of the largest financial institutions and some of the newest robo advisors to meet their need for a customized technology solution.
What are the biggest problems facing the FinTech industry in the future?
Advisors and enterprises confront three main challenges:
- Many feel that they’re drinking from a fire hose. With a plethora of FinTech tools available, it’s hard for advisors to know what to choose. Understanding the needs and behaviors of current and future clients is the first step. It’s also important for advisors to consider how technology fits with their firm’s culture.
- Incorporating sustainable, responsible and impact (SRI) investments. Many of the same clients who are demanding digital engagement also want more SRI options, yet many advisors are not set up to accommodate them. SRI has become increasingly important to clients across every demographic, not just those interested in the environment and social issues. Folio was a pioneer in providing brokerage features, including securities filters and model strategies, which equipped advisors to offer SRI options to clients. We now own First Affirmative Financial Network, a pioneering RIA in this space, and The SRI Conference, the premier annual forum for investment professionals and investors engaged in sustainable, responsible, impact investing.
- Future-proofing client service tools. With technology evolving so rapidly, advisors and enterprises are hard-pressed to keep pace with industry changes. We offer flexible, open-architecture technology that better prepares advisors for the future, allowing them to easily incorporate new features as they become available – without having to “bolt on” multiple third-party solutions.