Moneta group Investment Advisors this week announced the launch of a new client portal and mobile app. The internally developed technology enables Moneta’s more than 6,000 clients to securely interact with their investments and advisors – and ultimately with each other – via their smartphones and browsers.
Founded more than 150 years ago and based in St. Louis, Moneta has gone through several iterations and today manages nearly $33 billion in client assets across 26 teams in five states. The company, which is 100% owned by 52 partners, only recently began pursuing a focused inorganic growth strategy, having spent the past five years building a team and platform to support it.
The new portal integrates with Moneta’s existing tech stack, which consists primarily of third-party products built around a MuleSoft-enabled, plug-and-play integration tool for disparate applications and datasets. The customer portal is one of the few technologies in the stack that the company believes needs to be developed proprietary.
“we We looked at Orion, eMoney and Salesforce and felt that neither of these customer portals is really what we wanted to offer our customers,” said Keith Bowles, Moneta COO, according to tThe company hired an unnamed software development company to build the portal to their specifications. “It meant a significant financial investment as well as thousands of hours between our internal team and the developers.”
Leveraging internal data, as well as information available through Salesforce and other external partnerships, the Moneta portal uses what the company’s executives call a type of “machine learning” to anticipate events in customers’ lives and make events relevant to them delivering content at the right time.
“It’s about lifestyle and life stage and the pain points or celebrations that are [clients] may be going through,” Bowles said, citing college graduation as an example. “We can send our off-to-college guide to those parents and it goes to their mobile app and they can then forward it to family and friends.”
According to Bowles, the release is just the first of planned iterations of the client engagement platform, which will eventually include a social feature called “Moneta Communities,” allowing clients to connect with each other in a sort of exclusive social media space, to share lessons, insights or seek financial advice from peers.
“We want to create a community where business owners or people preparing for retirement can connect with other successful families and share their ideas and what’s been happening in their lives,” Bowles explained. “So we’re making this mobile app more of a social mobile app.”
Other portal features, which may have built-in SEC compliance, include access to financial data, instant messaging, online scheduling of consultant meetings, DocuSign signatures, a secure document vault, and a customizable multi-media content feed for training materials.
Moneta expects to use the technology to reach new generations of digital-first customers, but will not make the portal available outside of the Moneta network. Efforts appear to be primarily focused on maintaining intergenerational relationships and driving educational content that can then be shared externally.
“It’s estimated that nearly $30 trillion will be passed from baby boomers to subsequent generations,” Bowles said. “We see this wealth transfer coming their way and we educate them about this wealth transfer and how to prepare for that wealth.”
Education has long been a part of the Moneta ecosystem, Bowles said, but has historically focused on providing consultants and team members with in-house career training and a library of digital resources through a learning management system called Cornerstone.
“You want to be a consultant? There is an entire advisor track. We have a two-year partner-in-training program where you’ll be mentored by four different partners and see four different teams run,” said Bowles, explaining that the program’s success inspired the company to launch the LMS To expand the platform, customers offer wealth creation via the portal and the mobile app.
“We’ve just started to grow all of our wealth creation — fundamental investing, charities and endowments, next-gen education for off-to-college, and buying your first home,” Bowles said. “We build all of these educational pieces for our clients and our clients’ children based on life events.”
As the platform evolves, Bowles said Moneta is ready to begin accelerating M&A activity, which has gained momentum since opening its Denver office in 2019 and acquiring a local practice that same year. After this first step, Moneta’s assets have grown by 39% and three more locations have been added in the metro areas of Kansas City, Boston and Chicago.
2021 the law firm founded a trust company in response to client needs for trustee services and the firm’s desire to retain control of clients’ assets. It also makes the company more attractive to potential takeover targets.
“We took a different approach than most companies,” Bowles said. “We’ve said we need to be able to have a back office to support mergers and acquisitions and we’ve spent the last five years doing that. Now that has paid off and expanded and you see us expanding aggressively.”
The goal is to reestablish the community of 450 professionals built over more than a century in St. Louis, with an initial focus on areas where a presence has already been established. Moneta is currently in talks with five companies — three potential mergers and two acquisitions, Bowles said, two of which are in cities outside of the target areas.
“If there is a like-minded company that is culturally compatible with us and wants to grow and remain independent, we would definitely welcome those cities,” he said. “We are looking for companies that want to remain independent. I think you hear that a lot from a lot of companies, but we’re very independent and don’t feel like doing private equity. We’d like to be the only RIA that doesn’t.
“We think if we had raised private equity,” he added, “this mobile app would not have been created.”