machine learning or artificial intelligence in clever ways,” he said.
“One really clever one that I am quite
fond of is FP Alpha,” he said. “What
FP Alpha does is an advisor can feed in
information — for example, a client’s
tax return [or] a client’s estate plan-
ning documents — and it’ll analyze those
documents and also whatever other
information the advisor has
compiled about that family’s
financial situation and it will
What this means is that
“the rise of the virtual para-
planner is actually happen-
ing as we speak and that’s a
big deal,” he said.
For instance, benjamin isan AI assistant and businesssupport system that provides advisors with work-flow automation. “That’salso really significantbecause it can take some of the tasksthat are routine but time-consuming andautomate them,” Bruckenstein said.
Bruckenstein also predicted the huge
number of online trading platform out-
ages and glitches we have seen this year
will likely slow after the pandemic is
over. At that point, there will be fewer
individual investors at home with time
to make trades during the day and more
staff at data centers who can quickly fix
any issues that arise.
“Some of the systems were just notprepared for that type of volume becauseit’s unprecedented,” he said, stressing hethinks the large volume is not beingdriven by advisors and brokers.
He also predicted that, by Q3 in 2021,
RIAs and other financial firms will be
able to have as many people as pos-
sible back at the office who want to be
there. But “new habits are forming”
and “one of the things we’re learning
is you’ll probably never need as much
office space as you did pre-pandemic,”
he pointed out.
Many employees will continue towork at least part of the time fromhome, even after the pandemic is over,Finally, he predicted areturn of business travelfor meetings and conferences after the pandemicends. But he predictedthere will be fewer suchtrips and events than pre-pandemic,and that advisors and others will bemore selective in which events theydecide to attend.
Jeff Berman can be reached at email@example.com.
“Is too much power being
concentrated in the hands of too
few firms right now? I don’t think
so. But if the trend continues as it
is, there’s certainly a possibility
that that will happen and that it
could stifle innovation.”
Hightower Strikes Biggest Deal to Date
RIA aggregator Hightower Advisors has acquired Bel AirInvestment Advisors, a Los Angeles-based wealth management firm with $8 billion of assets under management and
43 employees, including 10 financial advisors.
The early 2021 purchase, which represents the largestacquisition in Hightower’s 12-year history, follows nine transactions by the company in 2020. The deal “is a heck of a wayto start off the new year,” Hightower CEO Bob Oros said.
Hightower now has 114 advisory businesses in 33 states. Asof Sept. 30, it had $61.6 billion of assets under managementand $81.4 billion of assets under administration. The deal toacquire Bel Air was signed Dec. 31 and is expected to close inthe first quarter of 2021, according to a Hightower spokesperson. Terms were not disclosed.
Founded in 1997, Bel Air provides customized wealth man-
agement services and investment solutions exclusively to
ultra-high net worth individuals, families, trusts and founda-
tions with $20 million or more in investable assets.
Of Bel Air’s 10 advisors, eight are based in Los Angelesand two are based in its San Francisco office, which Bel Airis looking to expand, according to Todd Morgan, its chairman and co-founder. Prior to Bel Air, he started his career atGoldman Sachs in Los Angeles.
Explaining his firm’s reason for acquiring Bel Air, Oros stated: “Hightower is very attracted to high-quality businesseswith great leadership teams that are multi-generational withan orientation towards growth, but most of all people that arevery focused on serving their clients with world-class advice.And Todd and his team at Bel Air checked every one of thoseboxes, plus a few.”