Marstone: Humanizing Financial Services for Investors and Institutions

Margaret J. Hartigan, Founder & CEO, MarstoneMargaret J. Hartigan, Founder & CEO
During her decade as a financial advisor for Merrill Lynch, Margaret J. Hartigan unearthed some of the vital challenges crippling the wealth management landscape. These challenges include lack of client financial literacy, investor inexperience, inadequate advisor-investor engagement, and unscalable business technologies that often make financial conversations static and uncomfortable. She also realized that people benefit when ideas and information are conveyed through clear language and meaningful visuals, enabling them to make better financial decisions. These findings led Margaret to establish Marstone, offering a new engagement model to demystify financial advice and democratize investment and financial planning. The company humanizes financial services, allowing people to understand their financial life better and ultimately build greater bonds with their advisors. “Our idea is to create an intuitive Apple-like experience that is all about the user,” extols Margaret.

Addressing the evolution of today’s wealth management industry, Marstone offers a white-label digital advice (robo-advisor) and financial planning platform that enables advisors and financial firms—including banks, brokerages, insurance companies, and asset managers—to retain and expand their client relationships, and help scale their mid-and-back-office processes. The company’s innovative solution brings greater control, understanding, and transparency to the end-client, while allowing the institution to build trust and loyalty with existing clients and access new client segments. “Our technology integrates seamlessly with a firm’s existing infrastructure including native and external data sources to offer one comprehensive platform,” explains Margaret.

Marstone brings an easy way to launch and brand a personalized client-facing digital investment product, with tools for portfolio creation and management, account aggregation, interactive reporting, and more.

Discarding the one-size-fits-all approach, Marstone allows clients to build personalized portfolios based on their own goals, beliefs, and interests. Realizing every firm has unique needs, the platform is innovative and flexible, expanding or contracting based on the needs of the financial institution. Marstone can act as the sub-advisor, offering a proprietary risk tolerance questionnaire and algorithm that places investors into appropriate portfolios created and managed by Marstone. Understanding that many firms’ core competency is investment management, Marstone can also simply provide the technology; institutions can use their own risk tolerance questionnaire, including scoring algorithm, and model portfolios. Lastly, there is a hybrid model that ties into third-party model managers allowing institutions access to best of breed investment managers.

Adding to its flexibility, Marstone’s aggregation feature lets users link their external accounts from other financial institutions to get a holistic view of their financial lives, including banking, investing, mortgage, and credit. The client dashboard allows customization of account nicknames and personal photos so clients can truly see themselves in their money. With wide-ranging out-of-the-box attributes, the white-label solution allows customization with branding and modifications such as user workflows and any other requirements from contract to deployment, which can often be done within three months.

Impressed by Marstone’s capabilities, clients range in size and scale from large multinational enterprises to regional asset management firms who are harnessing the solutions for a better client engagement via digital solution, and present wealth management opportunities to existing clients. Marstone enables companies to offer proper investment advice, communications, and annual check-ins, and as a result, equips them to offer more solutions and services to existing clients. Leveraging truly paperless enrollment features like account opening processes to electronic signature, the institutions accelerate their customer acquisition process, time to market, and save on communication and account maintenance expenses. Marstone currently serves clients through strategic partnerships with companies including BNY Mellon’s Pershing and Fiserv by incorporating different banking, lending, credit, and financial planning services through their solution. The company is currently developing a financial planning tool by exploring various artificial intelligence and machine learning tools like Alexa and IBM Watson.