A New Investment Option: Orion Communities
Though it has operated a TAMP since 2018, formerly FTJ FundChoice, now Orion Portfolio Solutions, Orion only recently launched a model marketplace allowing advisors to blend model strategies with their own investment decision-making. Orion Communities was rolled out along with Market*r in March with 40 money managers on board across equities, fixed income and alternatives.

Clarke organizes the marketplace constituents into brand names, like models from BlackRock and Amerian Funds, boutiques, like Clark Capital Management and Main Management, and “diversifier” strategies involving alternatives and other assets in non-correlated models. The strategies have been carefully vetted by Orion for consistency.

“Advisors are already able to access a variety of different model marketplaces from different locations,” said Clarke. “Our technology makes it easy for advisors to not only adapt a model or a strategy, but to also individually customize and personalize that model portfolio for their end investor, making sure that they’re taking into consideration, in a specific way, that client’s individual cost-basis considerations, any investment restrictions, and then being able to deploy that model in a way that’s most meaningful to each of the investors they’re working with.”

Clarke said that Orion recognized that some advisors wanted to offer their clients managed investment offerings personalized beyond what can be found on turnkey platforms but maintain a technology-enhanced experience.

The strategies are available as separately and unified managed accounts, and are highly customizable, said Clarke. Users can use Communities to select, compare and allocate to models across a number of characteristics. Advisors can then choose whether or not to approve any changes submitted by the models’ strategists within their accounts, or choose to automatically accept recommended trades.

“Too many model marketplaces require advisors to adopt a model in more or less as-is format,” said Clarke. With communities, advisors will be “able to bring that model into the household level, and then apply rules and restrictions in an automated way to optimize the outcome for that investor.”

Growth In The Age Of Covid
Orion hasn’t lost sight of the fact that these significant expansions come as advisors and their clients are reeling from a pandemic and its associated economic downturn. The firm announced that advisors will be able to freely access Orion Planning from April 1 through July 1, in hopes that it would enable them to deliver affordable financial planning services to impacted families and businesses within their communities.

“As things started to unfold, we heard heroic stories about the things companies were doing to reach out to the community, and our executive committee had a brain storming session of sorts,” said Clarke. “We decided we would roll out our planning technology, client portal and associated planning workflows not only to our advisors free of charge, but to any financial advisor for them to leverage, and to encourage them to reach out to members of their communities that had been impacted by the virus and offer some peace of mind and reduce anxiety levels as we went through this pandemic.”

The firm also launched an onboarding program for advisors new to cloud-based technology called “Business As Usual,” allowing expedited onboarding and support for users signing on in early April, free access to those users through July 1, and deferred payments through Oct. 30, as well as five free hours of business product support for companies moving from legacy installed software to cloud-based technology. The offering was intended to get advisors onto the platform in time to file their quarter-end audits with Orion’s technology.

Orion also stepped in to provide volatility-related client communication campaign materials for advisors in the initial stages of the downturn.