Personal Capital-BancAlliance Deal Brings Wealth Management to Smaller Banks

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / evgeshagWealth management has historically been a good source of revenue for banks, but it carried a significant cost, too. Smaller banks, with fewer resources, often cannot afford the employees that deliver the revenue.

A new deal announced this week between wealth management firm Personal Capital and BancAlliance, a network of 200 community banks, aims to make wealth management and brokerage services accessible to smaller banks at a much lower cost than they might otherwise pay. In partnerships with broker-dealers, for example, banks may surrender a large part of the profit in commissions in order to offer the service.

Personal Capital is part of the new wave of companies disrupting wealth management by offering services for a fraction of the cost. It is a hybrid advisor, meaning most of its services are digital (or “robo”), but are backed up by about 130 human advisors. The minimum investment with the company is $25,000.

“We never really worked with financial institutions because, for the most part, they have their own wealth management capabilities, but in the case of community banks, they do not,” Mark Goines, vice chairman of Personal Capital, told Investment News.

BancAlliance, operated by Alliance Partners, will provide Personal Capital services such as personal financial management tools and wealth management. These services can be white-labeled by each institution.

JP Nicols, chairman of Next Money, a network of fintech innovators, said that the deal comes at a good time for community banks. “Personal Capital gets them professional money management in an attractive user interface for presumably a reasonable price.”

Chris Fortunato, principal at KEC Ventures, said this deal is a way for community banks and credit unions to offer services competitive with larger banks. “BancAlliance is going to give it away to its customers and it will seemingly supplement their existing wealth management tools, if they exist at all, but at least it’s a way to avoid allocating significant resources toward making that unit competitive in some other way.”

Even larger banks have warmed up to digital advisors. BBVA Compass struck a deal with the roboadvisor FutureAdvisor in January, and SigFig has made a number of bank deals, including with UBS in May.

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