Stronghold takes wraps off robo matchmaker
March 24, 2015 by Alessandra Malito
Firm with ties to self-help guru Tony Robbins unveils PortfolioCheckup
Stronghold Financial, the advisory firm that found itself at the center of controversy last fall because of its ties to self-help guru Tony Robbins, believes its robo-matchmaking service is ready for prime time.
The San Diego-based firm announced Wednesday that it is partnering with Jemstep, an online advice platform, to launch a service called Portfolio Checkup, which analyzes an investor’s portfolio, provides a better-performing portfolio for comparison and then matches the investor with a flesh-and-blood adviser in the area — all within a few minutes.
When individuals access Portfolio Checkup through its website, they are prompted to answer questions about themselves, including tolerance for risk. From there, investors are asked to provide their portfolio login credentials. Portfolio Checkup analyzes their holdings and offers suggestions intended to boost investment performance.
If, after reviewing Portfolio Checkup’s options, an investor chooses to have his or her portfolio managed by an adviser, the program will suggest fiduciary advisers in the area.
The company now has 100 advisers in its network. Those advisers pay 25% of their advisory fees related to each referral to Stronghold. Advisers who join the network must accept and adhere to the following criteria:
•They must represent the legal fiduciary standard to do what’s in the clients best interest at all times.
•They must not charge commissions.
•They must not sell proprietary products of any kind.
•They must have a clean regulatory record.
•They must not charge more than 1% in annual investment management fees.
Stronghold Financial was the center of controversy last fall after Mr. Robbins’ book “Money: Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom” was published in November. In the book, he promotes Portfolio Checkup, which was co-created by HighTower Advisors chief executive Elliot Weissbluth and Gupta Wealth Management chief executive Ajay Gupta, Mr. Robbins’ financial adviser.
Some advisers were outraged when Mr. Robbins, who is a life and business coach, hinted in his book and in interviews that he would become a partner of the firm — therefore reaping monetary benefits.
Mr. Robbins has since said he will not join the firm.
Since mid-November, Portfolio Checkup has garnered more than 500 accounts &mdash: representing $4 billion in assets.
Some people in the industry seem to think it is a great platform for the industry.
“It’s a great first step,” said Scott Bell, founder of RIA firm GDP Wealth and blogger of “I Heart Wall Street,” who has used Portfolio Checkup. “It has a lot of the key elements needed for a compelling online experience while also using a real world adviser.”
But not everyone is enamored with the platform.
Shawn Roe, an investor from Virginia who now lives in South Korea, said he tried Portfolio Checkup in February and would not recommend it. Investors paying an adviser to manage your investments takes away from your overall returns, he said.
“It goes against Tony Robbins’ ultimate advice of not paying an adviser to invest for you because of the fees and the fact that a [do it yourself] investment in low cost index funds will beat a managed portfolio nine times out of 10,” Mr. Roe said in an email.