What’s Next for Altruist

RIA Intel sat down with Jason Wenk to discuss Altruist’s impressive growth and what advisors can expect going forward.


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Just five years after its founding, Altruist, a venture-backed fintech platform and digital custodian, has quickly grown to be a major player in the traditionally closed-off custodial space.

The company has raised $290 million to date. Last year, the custodian became self-clearing, a long-term goal, and acquired the brokerage and custodian platform Shareholders Service Group.

The company said that its year-over-year revenue growth is 600 percent and that it has had back-to-back yearly organic AUM growth of 300 percent.

“The momentum has continued to build literally every quarter,” founder and CEO Jason Wenk told RIA Intel. “This year should be another massively big increase over last year, which was already like a really, really big increase [over previous years].”

Altruist does not publish its total AUM but says it is now the third-largest custodian in terms of RIA firms served. More than 4,000 advisors and thousands of RIA firms custody with Altruist. According to Cerulli Associates, a Boston-based wealth management research and consulting firm, Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade (Schwab bought TD Ameritrade in 2020), BNY Mellon’s Pershing, and Fidelity represent 84 percent of the total independent and hybrid RIA assets under custody, as of year-end 2021. That number doesn’t include assets held under hybrid RIAs’ broker-dealer affiliations.

In T3’s most recent annual advisor software survey, Altruist was listed as the No. 1 custodian that advisors are considering switching to in the next 18 months.

Wenk sat down with RIA Intel to talk about what Altruist brings to the table and what advisors can expect going forward.

Responses have been edited for clarity and length.

Altruist has grown to be a major contender in the custody space, something that is notoriously difficult to do. Why is that?

A large part of it starts from having spent a long time in the shoes of our customers. I built two meaningful RIA firms myself, and so I’ve used all of the other vendors. When we built Altruist, we had the benefit of figuring out what were the best components, who opened accounts the best, fastest and easiest, and who had the best sort of tools, what were the biggest pain points of running a big custodial firm. And then figuring out how can we solve those, and our customers have seen that. A lot of the things we’ve done have become industry standards. When I started the company, the goal was always to be commission-free. Robinhood was commission-free, we were commission-free, and then Schwab and everyone else followed.

We’ve had back-to-back years of over 300 percent organic growth and a year-over-over revenue rate of approximately 600 percent. Part of why the revenue growth is growing really quickly is that we have become self-clearing. This allowed us to control our road map and really build a better product because we don’t have to share economics with a downstream clearing partner. Interestingly, we were able to give more back to our customers too. So we did things like more than double the yield we pay on cash and we eliminated our platform fee. So even though we’ve given way more back to our customers, we were actually able to do that while increasing revenue significantly.

How did technology play a part in your growth and how do you see it playing a part going forward?

I think one of the things that’s made a huge difference in our story is that the incumbent custodians started as traditional financial services organizations. Even the technologies that power them were designed to operate in a completely different manner. They were driven by paperwork, phone calls, and fax machines. In my opinion, it’s actually really hard to transition from sort of that more monolithic paper and surface kind of model to a tech model. We were a technology company from day one with the goal of creating digital custody solutions. So every single workflow is designed for B2B. We were designed for RIAs, and we were designed to be digitally native too. So we weren’t like putting lipstick on a pig, so to speak.

Every solution shouldn’t be technology exclusive, but I think there’s a fair amount of first principles thinking that has not been applied to this industry. Sort of like an engineer’s way of thinking about problems. We’ve heard a lot about advisors complaining about the levels of service at other custodians, but instead of needing to hire more service members, what if the technology just worked? You’d have a lot fewer people reaching out for the manual phone call, update, or whatever it might be. This then allows a custodian to operate at a level of efficiency they’ve never operated before. So I’d say that technology is at the core of how we think about the business. Where can we do amazing things that just work and create efficiency?

So what does your road map look like going forward?

We have some really big news coming out about our cash yield that I can’t speak too much on but I will say that we don’t charge any money-on-money market mutual funds, which means that advisors can get whatever the highest yield is in the industry. We’re gonna make some changes around how we do cash management because we think there are some really awesome opportunities to just be the best at everything, meaning having the highest yield in the industry by far. We’ll have that soon.

We’re also really aggressively expanding our integration. We’ve built an open API that makes it very easy for fintech firms to integrate with Altruist. It’ll be companies like Orion and Tamarac, Black Diamond, and Advyzon as well as financial planning applications, risk tools, CRMs, etc. It’ll make it really easy for advisors to have optionality. They can use our built-in solutions, they can use their current solution, and they can do both. This summer, we’ll most likely be launching the very first, fully digital, fixed-income trading platform for advisors. With the fully featured version of the product, it’ll be just as easy to buy fractional shares of bonds as it is to buy stocks or ETFs.

Has anything surprised you about your growth?

When I started Altruist, I think I understood the market reasonably well. I knew what it would take to be considered desirable to RIAs. Some people think that the cost of switching custodians is high, but I think that if there is an obvious enough amount of value, then people will definitely switch. If anything, what we’ve learned is that there’s a lot more demand for a great digital first custodian than people probably would have assumed.

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