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The week in fintech: Lowering entry barriers for online brokerages

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The week in fintech: Lowering entry barriers for online brokerages

This weekly recap features updates on bank technology, payments, online lending and other news in the financial technology space. Send tips, ideas and chatter to kate.garber@spglobal.com. For other recent fintech news, click here.

Financial technology company Bricknode believes it has lowered the entry barriers for advisers to set up online brokerages.

The Swedish fintech company announced Jan. 17 the launch of Bricknode Broker, an international software service intended to allow individuals and companies to launch an online brokerage quickly and for as little as $70 per month. The service offers a full suite of integrated user interfaces for back office, advisory and customer portals. Users can expand the service with add-on applications activated through the Bricknode Marketplace, the company said in a release.

Adviser technology was a point of emphasis for Morgan Stanley Chairman and CEO James Gorman when he spoke to investors the same day of Bricknode's announcement. A "digital shift" in financial services is changing wealth management, a trend that has shaped the investment banking giant's advisory business, Gorman said during a conference call to discuss earnings.

"It is an important strategic component for us to realize the business's growth potential," the CEO said, according to a transcript of his remarks. Modernizing its advisory branches would help serve clients more efficiently and attract people who emphasize digital relationships, Gorman said.

The company noted in its conference presentation 10 deals it signed with technology companies to help enhance advisers' electronic tools and customer experience. The companies include Addepar, Adobe, Zelle and Twilio.

Morningstar analyst Michael Wong said traditional wealth management companies seek out digital upgrades not only to improve their advisory networks but to attract wealth management talent. Outdated platforms cost advisers production time, Wong said in an interview.

"If they can actually test drive your platform and see that it doesn't compare to where they currently are, then they're not going to switch," he said.

In financial media news, Moody's Corp. reached an $864 million settlement to resolve claims arising from the ratings that Moody's Investors Service assigned to residential mortgage-backed securities and collateralized debt obligations preceding the financial crisis. The agreement resolves federal and civil claims with the Justice Department and the attorneys general of 21 states and Washington, D.C.

In other legal matters, Western Union Co. agreed to pay $586 million following federal investigations into whether the company's anti-fraud and anti-money-laundering operations were adequate for its agents and business with third parties.

In specialty lending, Social Finance Inc. has been laying the groundwork to offer mortgage lending in Australia, The Australian Financial Review reported.

From Jan. 12 to Jan. 19, the SNL U.S. Financial Technology Index gained 0.26%.

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