Altruist, a venture-backed fintech platform and digital custodian used by more than 1,700 financial advisors, launched Altruist Clearing, a self-clearing brokerage, on Thursday.
It’s a long-awaited move for the fintech company that launched in 2019 as a commission-free custodian built specifically for RIAs.
“Our clearing operations are moving in-house which has always been a part of our plan,” Mazi Bahadori, chief compliance officer and EVP of operations at Altruist, told RIA Intel in an email. “We now have the flexibility to do more to improve the experience for RIAs and their clients. We’ll also have full ownership of the customer support model and will be able to develop new features and services faster, so the entire advisor experience is in our hands.”
Altruist said the addition of self-clearing makes it the wealth management industry’s first all-one-custodian. Along with clearing operations, the company offers advisors digital account opening, trading, billing, and reporting capabilities in a single technology platform.
As part of its future product roadmap, some of which will be announced in the coming weeks, Altruist said advisors will have access to new account types and asset classes, and they will also experience better cashiering, trading, rebalancing, and tax management capabilities.
Since its inception, Altruist has gone toe to toe with more established custodians like Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade (Schwab bought TD Ameritrade in 2020), BNY Mellon’s Pershing, and Fidelity, which in 2020 collectively accounted for 84 percent of the total independent and hybrid RIA assets under custody. However, to do so Altruist has relied on Apex Clearing as its backend custodian.
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“As a self-clearing custodian we are removing external dependencies to execute, clear, and settle trades. By building these capabilities we are focused on providing the maximum value to advisors possible,” Bahadori said.
The company said that the transition for assets currently custodied with Apex should be seamless for existing advisors and their clients, and that it can be done by “clients checking a few boxes within their Altruist mobile app or desktop portal to acknowledge a new account agreement.”
One of Altruist’s primary goals is to streamline the disjointed software services that can cost financial advisors time and money. The company claims to save advisors as much as 90 percent on technology costs.
In 2021, Altruist raised $50 million in a Series B round of funding from some of the most recognizable names in finance, including Vanguard Group, one of the world’s largest investment firms with trillions of dollars in assets.
“Everything we’re doing is in service of helping advisors have a better experience, by also helping them radically lower costs, grow faster, eliminate paperwork and make the experience of their customers even better,” Bahadori said. “Painfully manual processes and poor customer support no longer need to be the norm for today’s modern advisors — they deserve a modern custodian to match, that’s more efficient, fully digital, won’t compete for their clients, and is unique to them.”
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