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 Matt Wolniewicz, President of Fi360, a fiduciary education, training and technology company.
NAME: Matthew Wolniewicz, AIFA®
WEB ADDRESS: www.Fi360.com
What does your firm do/offer within the fintech sector?
Fi360 was founded in 1999 to bring a fiduciary standard of care to the financial services industry. Our vision is to have all wealth and retirement accounts managed by a fiduciary who has the credentials and tools to help investors achieve their goals. We published the Prudent Practices® handbook back in 2003 and launched the Accredited Investment Fiduciary® (AIF®) designation. The Fi360 Fiduciary Score® and Fee Benchmarker® enable advisors to win and retain new business, while the Fiduciary Focus Toolkit™ allows advisors to manage and document a repeatable prudent investment process while automating tasks such as investment policy statement (IPS) creation, investment monitoring and investment analysis.
What do you believe the next major innovation in financial technology will be and why?
I believe it will be the continuing convergence of “human” financial advice and “robo” advice. Robo was all the rage when it burst on the scene a few years ago with 50-60 new entrants, and in fact, many predicted that human advisors would become irrelevant. While the absolute number of human advisors continues to shrink, so do the number of pure robo advisors. There has been a consolidation in the robo space as big providers have launched their own solutions (Vanguard PAS, Schwab Intelligent Portfolios), other firms have made the decision to buy rather than build (Invesco buys Jemstep, Northwestern Mutual buys LearnVest), and only a few of the pure robos still seem to be commercially viable (Betterment).
We will continue to see these distinct capabilities coming together due to investor demand. On one side of the equation you have aging baby boomers who have a very strong need for in-retirement income, complicated estate planning needs and in many cases, significant equity holdings from the employers they spent their life working for. On the other side we have millennials who don’t have much in financial assets, are more likely to have many employers during their life and avoid actually talking to someone on the phone (but love their smart phones!). So there is a need to combine human advice and robo advice in a seamless manner, serving the client in the ways they want to receive financial advice. As Joe Duran says, “The client experience is key to advisors’ growth and profit as technology continues to dominate the industry. You need to be operating 24/7 and accessible via video and digital tools, or you won’t exist.”
What has been the biggest success in your firm to date?
At Fi360 we measure our success in how we empower financial advisors to better serve their clients by providing a prudent investment process founded in the duties of loyalty and care. There has never been more awareness of the fiduciary concept among investors, and even if the SEC fiduciary rule never becomes law, the tide has turned with investor expectations. 2017 was a big year for our company. Fi360 was named one of the Top Places to Work by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, our community surpassed the 10,000 active designees threshold, and we launched our new Fiduciary Focus Toolkit™ and Fee Benchmarker®. Any one of those accomplishments would have been cause for celebration and we experienced them all in one year!
Over the course of our company’s history, our fiduciary standards have been put to the test in court. The Prudent Practices® have been used in legal arguments associated with prominent fiduciary lawsuits, including those noted below, and have stood up against each challenge. Regardless of any federal regulation, we know the standards we teach are good for investors and therefore good for the industry. The Prudent Practices® are at the core of everything we do as a company and this substantiation only propels the Fi360 community toward our mission.
- Tussey v. ABB (2010): Expert testimony on Prudent Practices accepted by the Court.
- Tibble v. Edison (2014/2015): Amicus brief filed on Prudent Practices; Supreme Court on 5/18/2015…
- Affirmed continuing duty of fiduciaries to monitor plan assets
- Held that courts can’t dismiss breach claims based on ERISA’s six-year statute of limitations
- Declined to elaborate on meaning of ‘continuing duty’
- Kruger v. Novant (2016): Declaration on Prudent Practices filed to support Motion to Approve Settlement.
- Gordon v. Mass Mutual (2016): Declaration on Prudent Practices filed to support Motion to Approve Settlement.
Matthew Wolniewicz, AIFA® is President of Fi360, where he is responsible for creating the strategy to exceed client expectations, while driving topline revenue growth and building a client-centric sales and customer service organization. As a member of the executive team, Matt is the driving force behind growing the business and establishing Fi360 as a leading provider of financial services professionals and institutions.