Brooke’s Note: I’m the first to admit that I’m a little too chained to my desk here in Mill Valley. But I’m determined to attend to things that will open my eyes, hence those of our readers, when they happen locally and represent a side of RIA business life that I don’t know much about. A good example was when I heard that Envestnet Inc., through its recently acquired Yodlee subsidiary, was holding a very sweet little Silicon Valley incubation event at a hip, if windowless, workspace, in downtown San Francisco. I knew of two of the eight companies attending. One was Totum Wealth, which is headed by the dynamic Min Zhang. See: Why the U.S. should follow China in issuing 50-year bonds. I had never met Zhang. The other was Hedgeable, a New York-based robo-advisor that lives on the same block as Betterment, but which takes a different, lower profile. approach to success — and its owners, Mike and Matt Kane, who are twin brothers. Two companies that made out quite well in life as big Yodlee data users include FutureAdvisor and Learnvest.
If Envestnet is as big and successful as an outsourcer in the world of independent financial advisors in 2026 as it is in 2016,much may rely on its purchase of Yodlee, a very Silicon Valley data supplier, data sharer and data analyzer.
But of course, data companies are springing up in the RIA business and beyond as companies like ByAllAccounts get reenergized by big buyers like Morningstar Inc.. Companies like Addepar Inc. that call themselves advisor software companies are really all about the data. Then there are the data start-ups like Quovo.To get its hooks into the next generation of data-hungry online firms who are targeting the advisor and investor markets, Yodlee runs Ynext Incubator.
Min Zhang, founder of Totum Wealth, was also effusive in her praise of the Yodlee program. We sat down to catch up on her firm’s progress as the larger crowd began to assemble to head toward a restaurant for dinner. See: With algorithms and awkward questions, an ex-PIMCO 32-year-old crashes the RIA business
Zhang allows that her firm is so new that it is still adjusting its vision as it goes along. For example, though the firm started with the intention of selling the kinds of data analytics that a PIMCO uses in building portfolios, it is finding RIAs who are saying they’d prefer her to move up the food chain and literally provide the portfolios themselves.
“It seems advisors don’t want us to stop there; the want us to provide solutions. And I think they’re right.”
Zhang, 32, adds that an exceedingly nascent RIA business in China also beckons her. Zhang was raised in China and may be in a particularly good position to bridge divides. Why the U.S. should follow China in issuing 50-year bonds.