In yet another sign that technology is having a big impact on the wealth management industry, five leading
RIA firms are banding together to create a fintech accelerator: Scratch Works.
This new platform is designed to identify and fund promising fintech startup
The group held its inaugural meeting
during the Barron’s Top Independent
Advisor Summit, which took place
recently in Orlando. Staged like the
TV show “Shark Tank,” three fintech
companies presented their pitch to
ScratchWork’s five investors before
roughly 500 of the industry’s largest
independent advisory firms. Fidelity
Executive Vice President David Canter
served as the program’s emcee and host.
The five investors from leading RIA
firms were: Marty Bicknell of Mariner
Wealth Advisors, Jon Jones from
Brighton Jones, Richard Burridge of
RMB Capital, John Eadie of Covenant
and Michael Nathanson of The Colony
Group, who collectively manage more
than $60 billion in assets. Sponsored
by Fidelity, eMoney and the University
of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business,
ScratchWorks attracted more than 50
fintech firms, who gave their pitches
for venture capital investments, strategic partnerships and distribution
What motivated the leaders of these
RIA firms to launch ScratchWorks?
“Technology is constantly transforming and evolving, and we formed
ScratchWorks to join forces with the
most innovative minds in the industry,”
Bicknell explained at the event.
“Disruption, for those who embrace
it, is an opportunity. But how do those
ideas get discovered, how do they come
to life? How do they get put in motion?
That is the motivating force behind
the ScratchWorks fintech accelerator,
which is to connect innovative technol-
ogy companies and their entrepreneurs
to wealth management leaders,” he said.
After a rigorous review process that
included input from experts at the Leeds
School of Business, 10 semi-finalists were
identified for further consideration.
That group was later whittled down to
the three finalists that gave their pitches
live to the Scratch Works investors at the
Barron’s event: InvestmentPOD, Circle
Black and Snappy Kraken.
FINALIST NO. 1
First up was InvestmentPOD. CEO
Jacqueline Ko Matthews pitched her
technology platform as a multi-strategy,
white-label robo-advisor for advisors.
“Everybody wants to build a portfolio
that stands the test of time,” she said,
noting that every 10 years or so there
has been a major market downturn that
can significantly impact client portfo-
lios, such as what occurred during the
financial crisis of 2007-2008.
Matthews’ idea is to leverage technology to create a platform that combines
a multi-strategy portfolio management
approach with both asset and strategy
diversification in order to lower the
costs typically paid to expensive outside,
specialist money managers. Through
automation, algorithms and technology,
she can simplify the process and make
this platform more accessible — allowing advisors to make these sophisticated
investment strategies cost effective for
all their clients, not just those with a
high net worth.
“The current crop of robo-advisors
is over simplified and only provides
one approach, passive indexing, which
has become over commoditized,” she
explained. “To justify their 1% fees, advisors are going to have to provide a higher
service level, such as dynamic indexing, which historically has been done
through manual efforts and expensive
By Tim Welsh
ScratchWorks Unites Fintech and RIA Funding
Five advisory firms take a critical look at entrepreneurial ideas presented to
them in a “Shark Tank” format, and the industry gains as a result