At one of the most famous events in the worlds of art and fashion, a software firm linking asset managers with financial advisors and accredited investors will launch its technology platform.
After announcing a goal of helping minority-owned investment management firms raise $1 trillion in client assets at last year’s Art Basel Miami Beach, DFD Partners founder Devon Drew is hosting a kickoff event next month for the technology that acts as a matchmaking service between advisors, investors and fund companies. Nearly 7,000 advisors have joined the waiting list to get access to the machine learning-powered platform, where they’ll “have an opportunity to search out investments based on their preferences” without having to worry about “getting 50 calls or 100 emails” from wholesalers, Drew said in an interview.
The advisors and investors use DFD’s service free, while asset managers will pay $3,500 per investment strategy and $125 per month for each user, according to Drew, a veteran wholesaler whose career in the industry includes time with Vanguard, JPMorgan Chase, Merrill Lynch and American Century Investments. Last year’s Art Basel Miami Beach event drew advisors from the wirehouses, LPL Financial, Dynasty Financial Partners, Carson Group, Raymond James, Stifel, Ameriprise and Commonwealth Financial Network. Asset managers using the platform for customized searches and outreach to advisors and investors include Channing Capital Management, Fairlead Strategies, Kerusso Capital Management, Seeds Investor and Adasina Social Capital. The technology “allows them to grow” with “time, money and resources savings,” Drew said.
“There’s mutual alignment across the board for the platform,” Drew said in an interview, citing a goal of getting from 6,842 advisors ahead of the Nov. 1 beta launch to around 10,000 in the first quarter of next year. “I think we can do it with the right go-to-market strategy.”
The firm, which Drew leads as CEO with former BlackRock Director Bilal Little as president, is seeking to gain a foothold in the competitive area of the industry in which advisors and their clients decide which firms’ funds to use in building their portfolios. Besides advisors and their clients along with other retail investors on one side of the equation and fund managers on the other, a universe of vendors provide services such as trading software, portfolio modeling, custody, lead generation and investment research. The dizzying array of services to choose from can present a struggle for advisors, who often prefer to be independent from any single vendor or asset manager.
For many advisors, “answering calls from asset managers randomly is not my favorite thing to do,” but they tend to “have a fairly challenging time” when identifying or performing due diligence on alternative choices to giants like BlackRock, Vanguard, State Street and Fidelity Investments, according to Samuel Deane of Atlanta-based Deane Wealth Management. Deane, a 2023 Financial Planning Rising Star award winner, invests in advisor technology firms in addition to operating his practice. He signed on as an early adopter of the platform. DFD’s software will help fuel the “democratization of the industry,” Deane said in an interview.
“Just having that level of access to these differentiated strategies from asset managers of all shapes and sizes I think is good for the industry,” Deane said. “I think there’s room for some new entrants to the market.”
Investment managers and advisors can find each other through DFD’s platform by searching with filters based on categories like firm name, industry role, experience, areas of expertise, past types of recommendations and demographic information. To begin speaking with each other, one user reaches out to another, who must give permission to start the conversation. The system also assigns a “profile match score” on a 100-point scale for a reading on whether two users might be a fit for one another. DFD is already eyeing more potential capabilities for the platform.
“Eventually we’ll be able to facilitate transactions,” Drew said.