Former Envestnet executive Lincoln Ross is the new CEO and president of digital wealth management platform CircleBlack, according to an announcement. Ross replaced outgoing CEO and Chairman Alex Socki, marking the third change in leadership at the firm in as many years. Socki assumed leadership in 2020 following the sudden death of the firm’s founder and CEO, John Mitchell.
“Last Leadership” [Sauickie] Prioritized significant investments in the business over the past 18 months,” said Ross WealthManagement.com, The investments were enough that the firm, which still has more than 80 wealth management firms as clients, “could enter its next phase of growth” (Socki said in a 2021 interview that the firm had 86 calculated the RIA).
Ross stated that he would largely continue the work of Socki, who had resigned to “pursue other interests” according to the announcement (Ross declined to elaborate on his departure). Outgoing CEO CircleBlack wanted to provide more and better data to users, improve integration with outside vendors like Salesforce, and expand the firm’s mobile offering, he said in an interview in 2020. The firm now has 11 bidirectional data integrations and over 300 model marketplaces. Solution Portfolio.
Ross, a veteran of the advisory technology market, most recently led business operations at Envestnet. He joined the wealthtech firm after leading a turnkey asset management platform called FundQuest, which was acquired by Envestnet in 2011. He said “potential” in CircleBlack’s investor portal and mobile app.
“We at WealthTech will be focused on developing the platform to deliver the most compelling advisory and investor experience,” he added. Ross will continue to invest in “modular” technology, along with other lines of business determined by Souki.
The modularity of the firm’s offering is especially attractive to larger firms, Ross said, which may choose to incorporate individual features from CircleBlack into its capabilities. One such firm is Robertson Stephens, a $2 billion AUM firm that publicly partnered with CircleBlack last year.
Ross said model marketplaces are another way to attract new business.
In addition to its Salesforce integration, CircleBlack has integrations with firms such as RightCapital, Money Advisor, and Envestnet. MoneyGuide in Financial Planning; Compliance vendor RIA in a box (acquired by ComplySci); Rebalancing software Smartleaf and CRM providers Wealthbox, RedTel and Practice. Firms with a model portfolio on the platform include Vanguard.
The firm charges either a minimum membership fee or a usage fee, which is charged on a per-account basis in dollars or basis points.
Soki has made significant progress in bringing CircleBlack capabilities to advisors. The firm’s iOS and Android apps can be white-labeled by the firms, Ross said, giving consultants the ability to launch their own branded mobile app in Google Play or the Apple App Store.
Ross said the firm is in the process of working on chat and Messenger features that will give consultants and clients the ability to upload photos and multiple file types (such as Microsoft Word or Excel files) to Document Vault. He did not provide a date for the expected deployment of the new document-sharing functionality.
Ross built close relationships while at Envestnet, which will also help CircleBlack strengthen its Envestnet. Yodlee data aggregation integration, which will eventually give advisors access to the approximately 17,000 data sources available through the aggregator.
“We have grown from a founder-led startup to a better capitalized and more mature company,” Ross said. “CircleBlack – as a business – is in its development phase.” His appointment as CEO was effective from March 9.