After more than a year of development and testing, a digital passport that allows financial professionals to easily gain entry to online tools and services — even ones they haven’t used previously — is coming to the broader market.
Finvera, a verification and authentication service, is already used by LPL Financial, MassMutual, Nationwide, and others. Now it is ready for more customers and companies are eager to leverage it, said Cameron Nordholm, the cofounder and CEO of Gainfully, the San Francisco-based software company that built Finvera. Financial advisors can expect to receive prompts to create a Finvera profile from “household names” in finance as soon as this spring, Nordholm told RIA Intel.
Founded in 2015, Gainfully is a venture-backed firm best known for software that helps finance professionals communicate with clients and prospects while adhering to compliance rules. But one of Gainfully’s clients was impressed with its ability to quickly verify and authenticate professionals, a useful feat. “We got really good at fingerprinting advisors and everyone said, 'hey can you unlock that so we can use it ourselves?'” Nordholm said.
That discussion led to the idea for Finvera.
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Gainfully created and began testing a verification and authentication service early last year, then called IdentiFi. Since then, it changed the name to Finvera. “The name change, or the rebrand, was just for trademark purposes” and the website domain was available, Nordholm said. The product itself is the same.
Finvera functions similarly to other single sign-on software; it remembers usernames and passwords. But unlike other services, Finvera cross-checks and verifies the identity of securities, advisory, and insurance professionals with a variety of inputs, including their registrations with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, or FINRA, and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Single sign-on services are not particularly new or special. Many companies use them to make life easier for employees and improve their security. Any company that can do that securely with a better experience or lower price will attract customers, said Doug Fritz, the CEO and founder of F2 Strategy.
But Finvera profiles have other utility, too. They function like digital passports, verifying user identities and helping them prefill information at any company in the Finvera network.
That connectivity saves professionals and companies valuable time, Nordholm said. To register with a fintech company or asset manager and use their services, advisors often must fill out 20 or more fields then wait up to three business days to be approved and receive login information. In that time, professionals interested in testing new software or services can lose interest. To offer the convenience, companies pay a fee to Gainfully to be part of the Finvera network.
Asset managers are eager to strengthen their relationships with financial advisors and among the primary potential customers. “For them, Finvera is all about eliminating their registration forms,” Nordholm said.
BlackRock, for example, has been outspoken about its desire to play a bigger role in wealth managers’ businesses through tools and services, in addition to its investment products. It’s also taking steps to make its model portfolios more accessible and top-of-mind for advisors. In 2018, Invesco acquired Intelliflo, a brand and service provider to advisors that it has folded other services into.
“Asset managers are focusing on their interactions with end users and clients and leveraging technology to do so. Ease of use and scale of access for the RIA channel is a critical next step to providing greater connectivity end to end for clients, intermediaries, and asset managers,” Bernadette Geis, leader of Asset and Wealth Management Leader at PwC US, said.
Other customers include a growing number of financial technology companies specifically interested in working with wealth managers, especially independent RIAs. “We provide a turnkey way for them to compliantly know who they are working with,” Nordholm said.
Professional trade associations have also expressed interest in Finvera.
Privacy is a pillar of Finvera, Nordholm said. Professionals can choose what information, such as their email or phone number, is available to the Finvera network.
Across all the organizations using Gainfully’s products, more than 400,000 professionals have access to them. The company has 15 employees and last raised a $5.5 million Series A round of funding in 2019. Nordholm said Tuesday there were no other fundraising announcements to make but that the company would consider investment opportunities to help it grow.
Michael Thrasher (@Mike_Thrasher) is a reporter at RIA Intel based in New York City.