Future Advisor, which was sold to BlackRock last year, will serve millions more clients, including individual investors just starting out, BlackRock officials said Tuesday.
The two firms will do so by signing new deals with investment advisor and broker-dealer firms, they said at a news conference in Manhattan in which they discussed coming partnerships with various advisors and broker-dealers, including LP Financial, the nation's largest independent B-D.
BlackRock will use FutureAdvisor’s expertise “not only for investment management, but also for risk management solutions,” said Salim Ramji, head of BlackRock’s U.S. wealth advisory business.
The purchase of FutureAdvisor, he said, is part of a plan to provide retail strategy through BlackRock’s distribution partners in the wealth management firms, Ramji said.
A typical BlackRock partner that would be interested in the services offered with FutureAdvisor would likely be a bank that has “hundreds of advisors and wants to build out its investment management capabilities,” he said.
Firms working with FutureAdvisor and BlackRock will be able “white label” more of their advisory services than if they tried to do it themselves, he added. For instance, Ramji said that their systems will be available to all LPL advisors under a deal that is near completion.
Future Advisor is a digital wealth manager that was co-founded in 2010 by Bo Lu, a former Microsoft program manager. Lu said he became interested in starting the advisory firm when many of his young friends couldn’t find investment professionals to help them start out with small portfolios.
“We were seeing the underserved part of the industry,” he said. Those young investors made a lot of common mistakes starting out that were many times corrected by computers. Lu said this led him to start FutureAdvisor.
“We created it so we could look at what you have in your portfolio and how can we improve on what you have,” Lu said.
Ramji said the partnership is both to help the individual investors who can’t find advice and advisory firms that are trying to serve them in competition with huge firms.