MMI and Barron’s announced the winners of the 2021 MMI/Barron’s Industry Awards at a special virtual Awards Ceremony on November 11th. Now in their thirteenth year, the Industry Awards recognize innovation and achievement in the investment advisory solutions industry over the past year.
“The eagerly awaited MMI/Barron’s Industry Awards provide an exciting window on the innovation in our industry in the past year,” said Craig Pfeiffer, MMI President and CEO. “They celebrate the leadership shown in embracing change in a rapidly evolving wealth management sector during a time of unprecedented challenge.”
Jack Otter, Global Head of Wealth & Asset Management at Dow Jones, the publisher of Barron's, added, “Barron’s is proud to co-present the awards with MMI. The awards offer perspective on the innovative efforts being made by leading wealth managers, asset managers, and solutions providers. The winners are clear leaders in improving advice delivery across the industry, creating better outcomes both for advisors and the investors they serve.”
The winners in the 12 award categories this year are:
Digital Innovation: Honoring a new technological innovation (or specific enhancement to an existing platform or tool) that enhances the investor or advisor experience with advisory solutions
- Bank of America Merrill Lynch—Merrill Lynch Investment Advisory Program: Digital Wealth Overview (DWO)— A new digital experience that helps clients see their bigger financial picture – whether investments are held at Merrill and Bank of America or at other firms – and to drill deeper into those insights with highly personalized, narrated, and interactive video presentations. This innovation allows advisors to create new digital connections with their clients in a way that complements all of the traditional client/advisor interactions.
Doing Good: Honoring programs that support a deserving cause or give back to the communities we serve
- Invest in Others—Grants for Change— Grants for Change provides critical funding to nonprofits that are working to create and enhance opportunities for communities of color. Since the program was launched in the fall of 2020, Invest in Others has awarded more than $325,000 to 14 organizations serving BIPOC in urban and rural communities across the country.
Social Justice: Honoring exemplary commitment and progress in embracing and advocating social justice in the investment advisory solutions industry
- Cetera Financial Group—Caring Cetera— Cetera financial professionals initially came together to advance the firm’s fundamental belief that financial well-being and literacy are part of an equitable society. Cetera is committed to expanding opportunities for the next generation of financial professionals. The CeteraNext scholarship program aims to inspire and help students interested in a financial planning career who are part of traditionally underrepresented communities in the financial profession.
- Raymond James—Diversity & Inclusion: Pledge to the Black Community— Staying true to its people centric culture, Raymond James associates and advisors remain focused on fulfilling the pledge they made the Black community following the social unrest of 2020. Strategic partnerships have been developed with non-profit organizations to expand representation in recruitment and college pipeline programs. Additionally, mentoring initiatives were launched in support of the development and retention of the firm’s Black associates. Across Raymond James, advisors engaged with our communities to host sessions around financial literacy, career planning and educational development. The firm has also hosted sessions to facilitate dialogue with its associates and advisors on recognizing, understanding and celebrating cultural differences.
Sustainable & ESG Investing: Honoring programs that support awareness and adoption of sustainable and ESG investing
- Envestnet | PMC—ESG Due Diligence Enhancements & New Impact Overlay Screens— Supports all investors, and their advisors, in their ESG investing journey. As investors become more aware of the benefits of ESG and the issues that mean the most to them, PMC nimbly creates tools, like impact overlay screens, for advisors to utilize and act on these requests. PMC has also developed a specific ESG due diligence program which helps financial advisors and their clients make well-informed ESG investment decisions.
Distribution Excellence: Honoring firms that provide exemplary and innovative advisor sales support both in the field and from the home office
- Practice Management Consultants, LLC—Black Financial Advisors Network Exclusive Coaching Programs— Founded four years ago to fulfill the need for culturally diverse and experienced advisor coaches in the wealth management industry to coach ethnically diverse financial advisors. The coaches bring a unique cultural advantage to the wealth management coaching industry and have an average of 20 years of industry experience in their respective fields of specialized expertise. The Black Financial Advisors Network Exclusive Coaching programs help advisors navigate everyday practice management obstacles, create strategic operational plans built off their vision for their practice, and holds the advisors accountable to their annual business plan with custom-designed mentoring sessions given by Subject Matter Experts.
Thought Leadership/Education: Honoring new programs, research, educational campaigns, or content that meaningfully advance industry knowledge and understanding of topics key to the future of advisory solutions
- iCapital Network and CAIA Association—AltsEdge— AltsEdgeTM, an alternative investing education program for wealth advisors developed by iCapital and CAIA Association, offers research-based, CE-accredited modules to prepare advisors to optimize the use of alternatives in client portfolios. The AltsEdge program consists of ten guided modules covering an overview of the private markets, various types of strategies and product structures, hedge funds, registered funds, and portfolio construction.
Disruption: Honoring a groundbreaking new product, technology, or process that will fundamentally alter the future delivery of advisory solutions
- Franklin Templeton—Goals Optimization Engine (GOE)— GOE is Franklin Templeton’s proprietary and patented solution that enables advisors and financial services firms to deliver personalized, high-value services to end-investors at greater scale. Based on proprietary research that won the prestigious Harry M. Markowitz Award in 2018[i], GOE combines Franklin Templeton Investment Solutions’ portfolio construction expertise with dynamic programming to deliver individualized portfolio pathways based upon an individual's unique goals. With the ability to handle and optimize between multiple investor goals, GOE uses probability of success as the driver for the initial asset allocation and each reallocation in order to maximize likelihood of achieving the goal. Portfolio paths further adapt to client changes and portfolio performance.
Wealth Manager Platform of the Year: Honoring a wealth manager platform that exemplifies innovation in delivering better outcomes for investors and financial advisors
- Morgan Stanley—Expansion of Advice Delivery and Portfolio Management Capabilities— The combination of 1) strategic acquisitions to enhance capabilities across all channels/segments; 2) advisory product expansions that help Financial Advisors and their clients better manage risk and potentially enhance portfolio tax outcomes in a highly scalable way; 3) cutting-edge technology developments with the seamless integration to portfolio management capabilities including the Investment Proposal Tool and Strategy Builder have assisted Financial Advisors in growing their business efficiently and delivering a superior client experience.
Asset Manager of the Year (AUM of $10 billion or less): Honoring a smaller asset manager that exemplifies innovation in delivering better outcomes for investors and financial advisors
- Horizon Investments—Horizon Goals-Based Solutions— Our mission is to empower financial advisors who are embracing goals-based planning. Horizon builds investment strategies that align with changing aspirations and address potential market risks at each stage of a financial journey. Innovative solutions that target risk mitigation and retirement distribution needs exemplify our commitment to addressing the multifaceted demands of goals-based financial planning.
Asset Manager of the Year (AUM between $10-$50 billion): Honoring a mid-size asset manager that exemplifies innovation in delivering better outcomes for investors and financial advisors
- Clark Capital Management Group—Employee-Owned Firm Celebrates 35 Years— This year, Clark Capital celebrates a milestone anniversary—35 years of delivering asset management excellence. For over three decades, the firm has continued to find new ways to meet the evolving needs of advisors and their high net worth clients. Clark Capital’s breadth of strategies and services have resonated with advisors. Over the past year, the firm has experienced a double-digit year-over-year growth rate in total assets, largely driven by organic growth. The growth the firm has experienced has been aligned to a singular focus: partnership with independent financial advisors.
Asset Manager of the Year (AUM of more than $50 billion): Honoring a larger asset manager that exemplifies innovation in delivering better outcomes for investors and financial advisors
- J.P. Morgan Asset Management—Empowering Change— In February 2021, J.P. Morgan Asset Management launched Empowering Change, a unique program that provides partner MDI & CDFIs exclusive distribution of the newly launched Empower Money Market Share Class. For MDI & CDFI’s, this new share class offers the ability to diversify their revenue streams by being able to attract institutional investments, empowering them to grow their banking footprint, expand their capabilities, and further support the communities they serve. The program launched with four MDI partners and within eight months has increased to seven and continues to grow.
Solutions Provider of the Year: Honoring a solutions provider (technology or service provider) that exemplifies innovation in delivering better outcomes for investors and financial advisors
- iCapital Network—Global Alternative Investing Infrastructure— The iCapital platform offers a seamless, digitally enabled, end-to-end alternative investing experience. Leading wealth management firms, family offices, private banks, asset managers, transfer agents, administrators, and custodians integrate iCapital’s technology infrastructure, creating an intuitive investment experience for the wealth management industry and the HNW clients it serves. Additionally, the firm’s customized digital solutions offer asset managers, banks, and wealth management firms the opportunity to leverage iCapital’s technology and services to scale and reach new sources of capital.
About the MMI/Barron’s Industry Awards Program:
Nominations were reviewed and evaluated by a specially appointed MMI Industry Awards Steering Council and the MMI Membership Experience Committee (MEC). The council and committee members represent all segments of the MMI membership—asset managers, wealth managers and solutions providers. The Steering Council and MEC reviewed the nominations based on:
- Level of innovation and forward-thinking
- Potential to effect noticeable change in the investment advisory industry
- Advancement of existing investment advisory practices and protocols
- Potential to deliver improved outcomes for financial advisors and investors
After carefully reviewing the nominations submitted, the Steering Council and MEC determined a slate of finalists in each award category. The primary contacts at each of MMI’s 182 members firms were eligible to vote to determine the winners in each category.