Onyx Platform to Help Minority Advisors Start RIAs Will Launch in May

The Onyx Advisor Network is helping underrepresented advisors get the technology they need to run a wealth management firm.

Illustration by Institutional Investor

Illustration by Institutional Investor

Onyx Advisor Network, a new platform for underrepresented, fee-only financial advisors, will be open for wealth managers to join on May 9, founders Emlen Miles-Mattingly and Dasarte Yarnway told RIA Intel.

Miles-Mattingly and Yarnway revealed their plans for Onyx, a platform that gives new RIAs everything they need to start, scale and sustain their business, in December of 2021. Since January, a group of 11 beta users selected by the founders have been using the platform. “We wanted to make sure that different types of advisors were represented: women of color, women, LatinX, and African Americans were all present. LGBTQ+. We wanted to have a diverse set of advisors who could see themselves in the Onyx platform, mission and vision and then get their direct feedback on our partners and our onboarding process,” Yarnway said.

Now, Onyx is ready to welcome more advisors.

The founders say the platform can effectively replace a TAMP, or turnkey asset management platform, a broad term for businesses that typically provide outsourced investment management and other services to financial advisors.

Advisors who join the network pay a monthly fee of $549 and get portfolio management, billing, custody and other services through Altruist and Apex Clearing, and financial planning software RightCapital (the first planning software to integrate with Altruist) or Envestnet’s MoneyGuidePro. The network’s advisors also get customer relationship management software by Wealthbox, Synergy RIA Compliance Solutions, and communication archiving and surveillance through MessageWatcher. RIAs also get access to five model portfolios from Vanguard and as many as five portfolios from Alpha Architect.

“For a little over $6,000 per year, you have a compliance consultant. You have a custodian to be able to manage assets, which helps not only you but the families that you serve. You have tracking systems, we have a CRM,” Miles-Mattingly said.

Onyx will help advisors save over $10,000 each year on the products and services by bundling them together, according to the founders.

Additionally, advisors in the network also get a 10 to 15 percent discount on other services including Carson Coaching, Encorestate Plans, Holistiplan, National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, Shaping Wealth and Snappy Kraken. The network plans to have more discount agreements in the future.

Historically, minority advisors have been turned away from some financial services companies, in part because they don’t already have a business of a certain size, Miles-Mattingly said. But without those tools, those same advisors are at a disadvantage. Onyx is giving them the tools they need to succeed while also allowing them to maintain complete ownership and control of their RIA, he said.

“We are not an RIA,” Miles-Mattingly said about the network. “We’re not owning anybody’s business or book of business. We are not a conglomerate. What we are is a platform that enables the advisor to start scaling and sustain their business. With these members, we’re trying to empower them to go out and do their best work by giving them all the tools and resources necessary for them to build.”

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Yarnway and Miles-Mattingly, who are Black, both struggled to get their planning-focused firms off the ground. When they announced the creation of Onyx in December, Miles-Mattingly’s RIA, Gen Next Wealth, worked with 76 households and managed $15 million in assets. Yarnway’s RIA, Berknell Financial Group, worked with 79 households and managed $10 million in assets.

Since the announcement in December, Miles-Mattingly said the response from the industry, especially advisors the network is intended for, has been gratifying.

“The industry believes what we’re doing [but] I think the messages that excite me are the messages from the people, or potential members,” Miles-Mattingly told RIA Intel. “Messages saying, ‘I’m so excited that you guys are doing this. The industry needs this.’ You know, ‘I finally feel like there’s a place where I belong.’ Those are the messages that excite me that let us know that what we’re doing is right,” he said.

Onyx will hold the first in-person meeting for its network — a sort of conference within a conference — at the Future Proof Festival taking place September 11-14 in Huntington Beach, California. Onyx advisors can also attend the festival for a discounted rate.

The organizers of Future Proof, Advisor Circle, recently announced they were working with Choir, a consultancy aiming to make financial services conferences more diverse through certifications based on things like the diversity of panelists and speakers.

Next week, Onyx plans to begin holding weekly office hours for advisors who want to learn more about the network.

Holly Deaton (@HollyLDeaton) is a staff writer at RIA Intel and based in New York City.

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