Don’t look now, but your world is changing one merger at a time.

Wealth and asset managers, fintech providers, insurance and annuity companies and private equity firms have been busy. They’re consolidating capabilities, unlocking efficiencies of scale, and providing tech-enabled guidance on ways to improve financial outcomes for you and your clients and prospects. Look no further than Schwab/TD Ameritrade/USAA, Orion/Brinker Capital, Empower/Putnam/Personal Capital, Edelman/Financial Engines, United Capital/Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley/Solium/ETrade, Franklin Templeton/Advisor Engine, BlackRock/Aladdin/FutureAdvisor and Envestnet/Tamarac/Yodlee/MoneyGuidePro/Apprise Labs/FidX/Wheelhouse Analytics.

Why is this happening? And, what do these deals have in common?

Driven by advances in technology, we’re seeing a historic confluence of investment and insurance products, tech-enabled retail, wholesale and defined contribution distribution channels, and capital. Why? Because smart money understands the value of an easy answer to the most important question clients ask: “How do I maximize my retirement income?”

No two clients are alike, and every advisor builds their business with their own approach and expertise. But when you get down to it, most prospects connect with you because they want assurance they’ll be ready, financially, for what tomorrow brings. People need that assurance more than ever. Investors’ top concern is not having enough retirement income, according to an AICPA study. And the U.S. Government Accountability Office says 76% of Americans worry they won’t achieve a secure retirement.

There are lots of good reasons why an “easy button” experience for maximizing retirement is the top prize in the race for wealth management supremacy. EY did a study and found through tax-smart asset location and an optimal sequence of withdrawals across multiple accounts and products, investor outcomes can be improved by 33%. Advisors will reap rewards as their clients’ managed assets grow more rapidly. Firms will rejoice when advisors adopt user-friendly tech tools and put away the yellow pad. And clients win with more money to experience retirement on their own terms, not to mention more peace of mind when unexpected turns inevitably occur.

We’ve seen a lot of great but disconnected tech solutions in recent years that address bits and pieces of this fundamental challenge, but it takes an entire coordinated, optimized ecosystem to deliver the whole package. The good news is a lot of these capabilities exist and more help is on the way.

If automated asset management and some perfunctory risk quizzes were all it took to build an easy button to maximize retirement savings and income, the robos would have put us all out of work years ago. In fact, Schwab’s Intelligent Income only works if you sell everything you own and pay the taxes so you can buy Schwab Intelligent Portfolios. Investors have figured it out that it’s a bad deal and there are few assets to be found as part of Schwab’s Intelligent Income. 

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