Interactive Advisory Software Names New CEO Hot

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IAS has been in business for over a decade and has been through lots of management changes and attempts at breaking into the independent advisor business. It has a storied past.


About six years ago, IAS struck a deal with financial-technology giant Intuit, makers of Quicken and QuickBooks(and now owners of Mint) and IAS was to be used as the backbone for for a new easy to use portfolio management system aimed at smaller advisors. Intuit folded that operation within a year, however.


IAS has been through at least a couple of rounds of venture capital financing. About a year ago, its founder, Herzel Hyton, left and IAS's financial backers have put in place a new team of top managers. 


The company was originally created by a loose consortium of advisors who banded together in the mid-1990s to try to revive an app originally created in the 1980s by David and Linda Grace. That app was on DOS and was legendary for its speed and usability. It allowed advisors to track portfolios, produce tax return data, and track client contacts and tasks.


The consortium eventually found Herzel Hyton, who owned a successful CRM software company in Atlanta and Hyton, an entrepreneurial visionary, brought in the Graces to try to revive the all-in-one app that this group of advisors loved so much.


IAS created a huge buzz a decade ago when it launched at an IAFP Success Forum. It was hailed by one writer as being the future of financial planning because it offered a single application that would handle portfolio reporting, financial planning, and CRM. It never caught on, however, on because advisors invariably did not like one aspect or another of the integrated system and the applications advisors needed had grown so much more complex than they were in the 1980s. IAS remains a classic story about how advisors have long searched in vain for a "silver bullet" application.


In all fairness, IAS has made a valiant effort at stitching together on one database the apps an advisor needs , and I have my biases on this topic. IAS includes a client portal with its system, and my company makes a client portal. IAS's client portal is not the central focus of its integrated app, however.


I also don't believe any one app can be all things to many advisors. Independent advisors want best of breed apps and won't settle for a financial planning app that's overly complex in order to have the benefits of integration with a PMS and CRM system.


How will a company that makes an all-in-one CRM, planning, and PMS app compete with a company that only makes a CRM app or only a planning app? With software becoming obsolete every few years by the pace of change, apps singularly focused on one or two core functions in an advisor's office make the most sense.


Advisors want to be able to choose their apps separately, I believe, and integrations using modern technology makes that totally doable. That is the direction of technology for advisors: apps that do one thing great. That's why we see so few reviews of IAS on A4A.


It will be interesting to see if the new CEO of IAS moves the company into focusing on PMS, which seems to be its strongest point, or if he continues down the path of creating a silver bullet that does it all.


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