Oppenheimer is revamping its technology platform and adding new members to its asset management team in a bid to improve adviser productivity at the firm.
The efforts make it one of several firms to announce major technology initiatives this year. Last month, UBS partnered with Silicon Valley startup SigFig to develop a digital advice platform for its approximately 7,100 advisers.
Oppenheimer says its managed account platform, a Vestmark product rolled out by Oppenheimer Asset Management, will allow advisers greater customization in orders and more robust modeling capabilities for managers. Bryan McKigney, president of the asset management unit, says the system is “up and running” and states that an “excess of 70 managers” are trading on it daily.
Oppenheimer says it is also adding members to the asset management team headed by McKigney, who was promoted to his position a little over a year ago.
The team’s executive director is Meghan Ramirez, a former Merrill Lynch employee with eight years’ experience in overlay portfolio management, according to the company. Joining her is trader Barry Chan, who has worked at Oppenheimer for 10 years, and Edward Reneri, a former trader and order manager. Reneri left a Staten Island pest control company to join Oppenheimer Asset Management as director in April, according to his LinkedIn profile.
“With the new overlay portfolio management team managing UMA accounts, we continue to reinforce Oppenheimer’s investment expertise,” said McKigney, according to the company. McKigney says that Ramirez is a “sharp portfolio manager,” and that Reneri was an experienced trader and is a “very, very good second-in-command — as is Barry Chan.”
Coming off a dismal 2015 fiscal year and battling a shrinking adviser headcount, Oppenheimer is hoping to increase profitability using its new technology. Last year Oppenheimer Holdings – the parent company of Oppenheimer & Co. and Oppenheimer Asset Management – said net profits were down 77.8% year-over-year. For the first quarter of this year, the New York-based firm reported a net loss of $3.8 million, down from $5.7 million for the year-ago period. Adviser headcount at the firm fell by 10 to 1,223 for the recent quarter.
The new managed account platform is “absolutely to create scale for us,” says McKigney. Utilizing the system, Oppenheimer aims to increase real-time transparency among managers, avoiding straying from clients’ investment objectives and increasing efficiency in portfolio management, he says.
McKigney says the new technology is “another big step forward” in providing their advisers with a single, seamless platform for managing client accounts.
McKigney also says it places the firm on level footing with bigger firms. “We’re just as competitive as some of the larger wirehouses in the UMA platforms.”