Author Archives: Eddie Sempek

Eddie Sempek serves as Orion's Chief Innovation Officer. He has worked in several roles at Orion and now oversees the team of tech consultants. He enjoys helping firms in their strategic planning and implementation of technology.
Reconciling Billing Audit Files

When you receive a bill from a service provider, you verify that the charges are correct before paying any fees. Whether you are being overcharged or undercharged, if there’s a mistake, it can be a sticky situation. When it comes to providing advisory services, your clients are no different. In this week’s Tech Tip, we’ll look at the Billing Reconciliation process and some of the files you’ll need to make sure your clients are being billed correctly.

What?

Every time a bill is run, whether it’s forecasted or live, there are four excel audit files that are created. These files need to be reviewed and reconciled prior to collecting fees.

Payable Summary – Displays a breakdown of every single account’s fee that was generated and includes payout amounts.

Billing Data – Replicates your fee file, and displays the accounts that will be paying out fees.

Reconciliation Data – Points out some common errors that can occur in your bill run.

Billing Audit – A snapshot of all your accounts and settings from when you ran the bill. It doesn’t show any fee information, and isn’t used to reconcile the fees, but it can come in handy for auditing and historical purposes.

Why?

It’s important to review these files and reconcile them together to ensure that your client fees are accurately calculated. You wouldn’t want to charge your client the wrong fee amount! It is a best practice to reconcile these four audit files for every bill instance, because this is where most billing issues or errors are brought to your attention.

How?

To access this data, open the bill generator app. Navigate to Bill Generator > Bill Instance tab.

Double click to open your “Bill Instance.” Click on “View” on the same bubble.

It is a best practice to review the Reconciliation Data first. This file should be blank, which indicates that there are no results, and you can disregard. If there are results, always refer to the last four columns in the spreadsheet. A True or False result will populate in the applicable column letting you know which error was recognized. Once the errors are resolved on the Reconciliation Data, the next file you’ll want to review is the Payable Summary.

It is best practice to verify that the total Net Due amount in column I matches the total of the payout portions on the spreadsheet starting on column M. For example, the total Net Due on this Payable Summary is $1,200,021.27. The sum of the payout portions, $279,800.64 to the BD, $639,440.52 to your practice, and $280,780.11 to the RIA also equals $1,200,021.27.

Once you verify that the totals on the Payable Summary match, the next step is to open the Billing Data. It is a best practice to make sure the total Net Due amount in column I on the Payable Summary, $1,200,021.27, matches the same total in the Balance Due, column M on the Billing Data.

After comparing these totals, the files are done being reconciled! Now you’ve confirmed that your clients are being billed correctly, something they will surely appreciate!

Want to Learn Even More About our Billing Generator Tool?

Hear from our Billing Subject Matter Experts on all things Billing during our upcoming webinar.

If you have questions or need additional assistance, feel free to contact Orion Billing at billing@orionadvisor.com

0506-OAS-5/20/2019

 

Building Custom Cost Basis Reports in Report Builder 3.0

Orion’s Report Builder 3.0 has a variety features to help you streamline your reporting process and gives you the tools you need to help you look your best! In this week’s Tech Tip, we’ll explore the cost basis function and how you can customize your settings.

What?

Keeping track of an asset’s cost is a crucial step in securities reporting. The cost basis of an asset shows whether the investment had a loss or gain and what the tax consequences for the investor will be. Using the Report Builder app, you can keep track of client assets and create customized reports surrounding a clients’ investment cost basis.

When building your cost basis report, it’s important that you select your Account Settings correctly. Occasionally, you will find that data returns may read as N/A for certain accounts. The reason this data may not be populating as expected is likely because the accounts are marked as Qualified Accounts. By default, Qualified Accounts and Money Market assets are set to be excluded from Cost Basis returns within Report Builder 3.0, but If you’d like to include them, we can help you adjust your settings.

How?

You can explore your Cost Basis settings and make changes within any report type.

First, open a new custom report or an existing custom report within the Report Builder app.

Once the report has opened, select the “Settings” drop-down on the right side of the screen.

Next, locate the “Cost Basis” section under the “Settings” drop-down and select the pencil icon.

 

After the pencil icon is selected, a new window will pop up with the settings that are specific to Cost Basis data that is displaying on the report.

To update your Account Settings to include Qualified Accounts and Money Market assets, simply select the two respective boxes. After both the “Include Qualified Accounts” and “Include Money Market” boxes have been checked, select “OK.” Now, all Cost Basis data for the level updated (Unrealized/Realized) will populate Cost Basis data for Qualified Accounts and Money Market assets.

Want to learn even more about our Report Builder Tool?

Hear from our Reporting Subject Matter Experts on all things reports in our on-demand webinar.

If you have questions or need additional assistance, feel free to contact Orion Reporting at reporting@orionadvisor.com

0473-OAS-5/13/2019

Getting the Most Out of the Orion Compliance App

This week’s Tech Tip comes from the Orion Compliance Team. We’ll take a dive into the Compliance App within Orion Connect, and show you how to gather data for your 13F Report.

What?

Now I know what you’re thinking, Compliance? Boo!!! But hold on, the Compliance App within Orion Connect can be a valuable resource. When it comes time to file your 13F Report Orion has you covered!

Orion’s Compliance app can help you create a compliance testing regimen that can automatically run the right reports when you need them – including a regulatory filing dashboard that allows you to capture all your Form ADV and 13F regulatory reporting numbers with one click!

Why?

Filing a 13F securities report can be a manual, time-intensive operation – but it doesn’t have to be. In this week’s Tech Tip, we’ll open the Compliance app and look at some of the items included in the 13F tile that can help you file your report.

How?

As of Date
The 13F tile defaults the “As of” date to the current date. Before you verify the 13F values, be sure to change the “As of” date to the last day of the desired quarter.

13F Securities Value
Did you know the 13F Securities Value provides you with the aggregate totals of ALL 13F securities within your database?

SEC 13F Securities List Date
How do you know when the quarterly 13F list has been updated in Orion? The SEC releases their securities list 5 to 10 days into the new quarter. The SEC 13F Securities List Date tells you when the 13F list was last updated in Orion by displaying the last date of the quarter for the reporting period.

13F Form Report Detail – Run
Unlike the 13F Securities Value, running the 13F Form Report Detail will return ONLY those 13F securities that meet the SEC’s minimum requirements of $200,000 or 10,000 shares.

You can access this data in five easy steps:

  1. Navigate to the Compliance app
  2. Go to Compliance>Disclose: Dashboard
  3. Change the “As-of” date (upper right corner) to the last day of the quarter, then refresh your screen.
    This will ensure you have the 13F values for the last day of the quarter.
  4. The “13F Securities Value” is the aggregated total of ALL securities within your client database that match the SEC’s 13F Securities list.
  5. Click “Run.”

Now you’re one step closer to filing your 13F Securities Report!

If you have questions about the using the Compliance app, feel free to contact Orion Compliance via Chat, Phone (402.313.4168) or Email (compliance@orionadvisor.com)

Want to learn more about our Compliance tool?

Find out how you can gain additional compliance control with our brand-new employee trade monitoring function by registering for our upcoming webinar.

0434-OAS-5/7/2019

Performance Roadmap: Dynamic Benchmarks, Daily Composites, Performance Viewer 2.0, and More!

In this week’s Tech Tip, we’ll explore some of the many performance tools available in Orion Connect and how you can use them to enhance your practice.

Performance often doesn’t get the same amount of attention in an advisory firm as billing, reporting, or trading. After all, many advisors choose to focus on long-term financial goals rather than placing too much importance on a single number to indicate the health of a portfolio. But performance is more than just a number; it’s an important tool that should be used in evaluating portfolios and making planning decisions.

So, let’s dive right in and look at some helpful Orion Performance Tools!

DYNAMIC BENCHMARKS

Dynamic Benchmarks allow you to assign benchmarks to your Asset Classes or Asset Categories and the allocation of the weightings will update automatically as the allocation of the entity you are comparing against changes.

Dynamic Benchmarks also solve some of the limitations encountered when using Blended Benchmarks, including:

Strategy and Allocation Changes: If a benchmark changes allocation, or if an account changes strategy, you no longer need to adjust the allocation of the benchmark manually or change the benchmark assignment.

Efficiency: Because the allocation of the benchmark tracks true to the allocation of the entity you are comparing it against, you could essentially create one dynamic benchmark and assign it to all of your accounts, and the benchmark will be an accurate representation of the entity’s allocation, regardless of the strategy.

Selection Effect: Because dynamic benchmarks remove the allocation effect, any difference between an entity’s return and a dynamic benchmark’s return will be due purely to “selection effect”—making it easy to show your client the value you’ve added by managing their portfolio with your asset selections.

DAILY COMPOSITES

Using traditional account software, composites can only be calculated for a full month-to-month time-period. Yet, utilizing daily composites allows you to run performance reports for intra-month dates, so you can isolate composite performance during periods of market fluctuation.

Orion built out this functionality to help you more frequently review the performance of portfolio groups, analyze and adjust investment strategies accordingly, and identify portfolio outliers in an efficient manner.

Orion Pro Tip: It’s important to note that daily composites are not GIPS compliant, because they are not run for full month time periods.

PERFORMANCE VIEWER 2.0

Do you use IRR or simple performance calculations? Do you ever find yourself wanting to research the “why” behind an IRR or simple return?

If so, you may have noticed that the details you could view in our Performance Viewer app only displayed information for TWR returns. In years past, you would have had to perform manual calculations for these other performance methods.

But with the updated Performance Viewer 2.0, you can now view details for IRR and simple returns in addition to TWR. This update makes it simple to see the calculation behind the scenes, and research performance returns in greater detail.

You can also compare portfolios against their Dynamic Benchmarks by using the Benchmark Summary and Benchmark Intervals selections under the “Return Style” drop-down.

PERFORMANCE BATCH TOOL

If you’ve been following Orion’s best practices for maintaining a clean database, you review the performance batch sent to you each month by your Orion Accounting Analyst. Sometimes, you may even request that we run a performance batch for you outside of that scheduled monthly delivery.

If you’ve ever wished you could run a performance batch for your full database on your own, without having to contact Orion, then the Performance Batch Tool is for you! With the Performance Batch Tool in Orion Connect, performance across your database will be available any time you need it.

 

We’re confident that these performance tools will give you more control and flexibility over your data, enhancing the way you work with deeper insights and analysis.

If you’d like to learn more about the performance tools available in Orion Connect: Please click here to check out our online Ascent training courses.

0409-OAS-4/30/2019

Updating Account Numbers and Orion Help Articles

This week’s Tech Tip comes with a bonus! First, we’ll explore how to fix an incorrect or missing account number, and then we’ll show you how to do a quick search to locate Orion help articles.

What?

Tech Tip 1: Fixing an incorrect or missing account number.

Occasionally, when creating a new account, an incorrect number may be entered. Other times, an account number may not be added at all, if the account record is created in Orion before the custodian assigns a number.

For data to sync correctly from your daily feeds, it’s critical for the account number to be corrected. Anyone that has “Role Privilege” can correct an account that has an error or add missing account information.

How?

If you need to correct an account or add missing information navigate to the Portfolio Audit app.

Navigate to the “Accounts” level and locate the account number you need to correct.

Once the account has been located, right-click and select “Assets.”

The account won’t show any assets, because no assets have been added yet.

Next, click on the “Actions” drop-down menu and select “New Asset.”

This will bring up a new window shown below:

Next, we’ll add an asset called “Performance.”

Enter “Normal Downloading” for the Status, enter the correct account number on the right of the screen, then click “Save.”

Now the account number has been updated!

Note: The account number cannot be changed by simply selecting “Edit Account” within the Portfolio Audit app. The steps above are the only way to correctly edit an account.

Tech Tip Bonus: Quick Search for Orion Help Articles

Did you know you can search for help articles without leaving Orion Connect?

To access this feature, navigate to the “Settings” drop-down to the right of the search box in Orion Connect and ensure “Help Articles” is selected.

Next, search for your training topic! The results will be categorized as “Help.”

The article will open in a new window after you select it. Additional related articles will appear on the right side of the screen.

The functionality covered in today’s Tech Tip is ready to use right now! If you want more training about the apps and tools covered in this article, visit Orion Social or Orion Ascent training within Orion Connect.

Not working with Orion yet? Click here to get in touch with us.

0368-OAS-4/22/2019

Streamline Your Billing Process with Fee Auto Post

What?

Whether you run a solo practice or have a large office staff, getting paid on time is an important part of your day-to-day operations. When advisory fees make up a large part of your receivables, a delay of even a few days can really put a wrench in your payroll timeline. Using the Auto Post option within the Post Payments app can help improve your billing and receiving process, and keep your clients’ fee payments moving.

When your clients’ advisory fees are deducted from their custodian, they are considered outstanding until they are manually posted within Orion’s Post Payments app. By enabling Fee Auto Post, the Orion system will automatically post the fees as paid, once we receive the management fee transactions back from the custodian. This will help reduce the time spent tracking fee payments, and get you back to what you do best, meeting with clients and growing relationships.

How?

Auto Posting: Fee Auto Post can be enabled by a member of Orion’s SME Billing team. Consulting with the Billing Team will help ensure that all advisory fee receivables are posted correctly. It’s important to note, if there are other parties deducting their own management fees from accounts outside of Orion, there are times when Fee Auto Post should be disabled. Our Billing Subject Matter Experts can help you determine which accounts would be appropriate for Fee Auto Post.

Manually Posting: If you have advisory fee receivables that need to be manually posted, such as clients who pay by check, you can complete this yourself in the Post Payments app. Highlight the outstanding receivables that you’d like to post. Right-click on the selected accounts and click “Post Selected.”

To run a report on receivables that have been posted, click on “Actions” in the upper right-hand corner, hover over “Reports”, and select the “Posted Payments” report.

Why?

Using Fee Auto Post will make it easier for you to track your advisory fee receivables, and minimize the need to manually mark the accounts “fees as paid.” Should you decide to take time off, or you’re out of the office unexpectedly, you can rest easy knowing your advisory fees are being posted automatically. Now you can spend less time worrying about advisory fees and more time enjoying your business again.

To set up a walk-through of the Fee Auto Post option please reach out to billing@orionadvisor.com

0334-OAS-4/17/2019

Look Your Best with Report Builder 3.0

When you meet with your clients, you want to look your best, right? You take a look in the mirror, adjust your shirt, maybe pop a mint or two, but what about your clients’ account reports? Orion has you covered with Report Builder 3.0, which can help you build customized reports and put your best foot forward!

What?

For this Tech Tip, we’ll show you the difference between account exclusions and account managed overrides. If you’re meeting with a client and want to focus on just one account, or all accounts but one, you can build a custom report showing only the data you’d like to present.

Where?

To view the option for either excluding an account or selecting an inclusion override setting, begin by running any of the report options and selecting the desired household.  After selecting the household, click “Next.”

On the next screen, you can select all of the accounts within the client’s household that you would like to include in the report.

How?

First, we’ll show you how to completely exclude an account. If an account is un-managed, and there are no un-managed inclusion overrides set, or if there aren’t any data points to pull un-managed data, then automatically, that account would be excluded from the report.  However, if there are un-managed inclusion overrides set up, then you simply need to deselect the desired account and that account will no longer run for that report.

Now, let’s say there’s an un-managed account that you still want to include in your report, but you want to exclude performance. In this instance, you wouldn’t want to exclude the account entirely, but instead use the “Un-managed Inclusion Override.” To have an un-managed account show within a report, except for a specific section, you would want to set up the un-managed inclusion overrides to be checked for all sections of the report EXCEPT for performance.

After making your selections, the report will include three of the four accounts in the household, activity summary, allocation, portfolio detail, and tax detail, but it will exclude performance.

Now you’ll look like an all-star during your client meeting!

If you have any questions about excluding accounts or using the un-managed inclusion overrides on reports, please contact the Reporting Team at reporting@orionadvisor.com.

0302-OAS-4/8/2019

Compiling AUM Data for ADV Filing is a Snap with Orion’s ADV Dashboard

Spring is here! Flowers are blooming, bees are buzzing, and the sun is shining. It’s also time to file your ADV, hooray! Whether you’ve already filed or are still working on it, don’t worry. With help from Orion’s ADV Dashboard, gathering client AUM data, a huge piece of the puzzle, can be easily calculated. Rather than searching multiple spreadsheets, the ADV Dashboard can automatically gather all your client AUM data in one place. This will help to greatly reduce time spent gathering figures and can decrease the chance for human error.

What?

The ADV Dashboard within the Orion Compliance app is a tool designed to track your firm’s client AUM. When filling out your ADV form, the SEC requires you to report client AUM based on client type, percentage of AUM, and custodian. Rather than running through different programs or spreadsheets, the ADV dashboard provides all these items in one easy-to-read report.

How?

To use the ADV Dashboard, navigate to the compliance app on the Orion Connect portal. Once the compliance app is launched, navigate to the left-hand side of the screen. From there you will see several menus starting with “Inform”, “Supervise”, and next “Disclose.” Click on the “ADV Dashboard” under the “Disclose” menu.

This will display your firm’s asset information in a variety of styles including regulatory AUM, discretionary AUM, AUM by client category, and many other options. When you’re ready to file your ADV you can use this quick reference to fill in your AUM categories in just a few minutes!

Now that you’ve simplified the ADV filing process, you can get back to what you do best, meeting with clients and building relationships!

If you have questions or need help navigating the Compliance app, contact Orion Compliance via Chat, email (compliance@orionadvisor.com), or phone (402.313.4168).

0284-OAS-4/2/2019

Viewing Client Risk Statistics in the Performance Viewer App

When creating a client portfolio, one of the most important factors to consider is risk. The term “risk” may have negative or scary connotations in a client’s mind, but with the right tools in place you can illustrate the importance of bearing investment risk and the possible rewards it can bring.

What?

Using the Performance Viewer app, you can view risk statistics and ensure that your clients’ portfolios are taking on the right amount of risk to meet their financial objectives. The Statistical Summary within the Performance Viewer highlights standard deviation, alpha, and beta for your clients’ portfolios. These measurements give a good indication if changes need to be made within the portfolio should the risk be too high or too low.

How?

You can view your client’s portfolio risk within the Performance Viewer. You can also print a report to assist in client meetings. This will help illustrate your trade rationale should you decide your client’s portfolio risk needs to be re-aligned.

To access your client’s portfolio risk via Statistical Summary, navigate to the Performance Viewer app.

Enter in the Household, Registration, or Account you wish to view these statistics for.

Make sure the date range is correct and add in any additional time periods you would like to view.

Add in any lower level groupings in the “Groupings” section.

Under “Return Style”, check the box by “Statistic Summary.”

Click “Calculate.”

Once the results have loaded, click on any entity in the “Summary” section to select it. Then right-click and select “Statistical Summary.”

From the “Statistical Summary” screen you can view risk statistics such as standard deviation, alpha, and beta for any grouping or benchmark loaded for the period. You can also select a new date range to view different time periods.

Using the Performance Viewer app to access risk statistics can help keep your clients on track to meet their long term financial objectives.

If you have questions or need help navigating the Performance Viewer please contact the Orion Performance team at performance@orionadvisor.com

0264-OAS-3/26/2019

 

 

 

 

Account Adjustments for Add-On Services

What?

With the emergence of robo advisor technologies, and constant scrutiny over advisory fees, it’s imperative that you offer services beyond just building financial plans. Many advisors offer add-on services such as tax preparation, small business advice, or career building tools. As you provide these services you may want to charge a nominal fee outside of your advisory fees.

Orion has the ability to add a one-time debit or credit to an account as a general adjustment. This adjustment will automatically be applied to your next billing cycle, in addition to your regular management fee. Once the full amount of the credit or debit has been applied, our system will automatically zero out the adjustment, so the amount doesn’t need to be manually maintained.

Why?

If you charge clients for add-on services, you can add that charge as a general account adjustment. Or, if you accidentally overcharge a client, you can credit the client back. These adjustments would automatically be included in your next bill run, instead of having to run an additional bill, or manually provide a credit to the client.

How?

If you would like to make an account adjustment, this tool can be accessed by navigating to the Billing Audit app.

Once the Billing Audit app is open, navigate to the All Accounts tab> right click on the applicable account to Edit Account>

Click on the “Billing – General Account tab.” Click on “Add One or Add Many” in the upper right-hand corner, depending on how many entities at your firm are responsible for either receiving or paying this adjustment to the client. For example, if your RIA is the only entity in the payout for this adjustment, click on “Add One.” If there are multiple entities in the payout for this adjustment such as your RIA, Yourself, and a Subadvisor, click on “Add Many.”

Next, enter in the Net Adjustment Amount, specify if this is a Credit or a Charge, and choose an applicable Adjustment Type.

Select the applicable entity, and click on the “Adjust to Percent” button. You also have the option of adding internal notes of what this adjustment pertains to. Click on “Ok”, and then “Save.”

TIP: Once you add a general account adjustment, utilize the Credit Remaining audit in the Billing Audit app to review adjustments that are going to be applied to the next live bill.

0204-OAS-3/11/2019

 

 

Tech Tip Tuesday: Contacting the Orion Compliance Team

For many advisors, the role they’ve accepted is more than just a job, it’s a higher calling. This most noble position helps investors guide their future posterity with every financial decision made. So, before you make those decisions on your client’s behalf, you should be asking yourself “Is this in the best interest of my client”? Some decisions are tougher than others, and at times, you may find yourself in need of assistance. At Orion, we provide more than just cutting-edge technology. We’re an extension of your back office, ready and willing to help with all of your client needs.

What?

We’re taking our spirit of service to a whole new level! The Orion Compliance Team has been added to our long list of Subject Matter Experts (Trading, Billing, Reporting, Cost-Basis), here to help you face everyday challenges and grow your business. You can now contact the Orion Compliance Team if you have questions about:

  • Setting up a database for SEC ADV filing
  • Running a 13F Report
  • Finding households by state
  • And much more!

When?

Our Compliance Team is ready to speak with you now! Feel free to contact the Compliance SME Team via phone, email, or chat function.

How?

If you would like to enable chat functions:

Navigate to the Manage Users App.

Navigate to Roles > Edit Role > Privileges > Advanced

Resource > Chat Compliance > Enable Chat Compliance > Save*

The Orion Compliance Team may also be contacted via phone at 402.313.4168 or email: compliance@orionadvisor.com

*Note, an advisor admin will need to perform this task.

0154-OAS-2/26/2019

Tech Tip Tuesday: Cost Basis Reporting Best Practices

Keeping track of an asset’s cost basis is a crucial step in securities reporting. The cost basis of an asset shows whether the investment had a loss or gain and what the tax consequences for the investor will be. There are a few different ways to store cost basis information. Let’s dig into which method is best and why.

What?

There are two ways that Orion can store cost basis information, Custodian Stored and Orion Stored. Custodian Stored information is sent straight from a custodian and stored to Orion’s cost basis tables. The frequency in which Orion receives files and the type of files (Realized and Unrealized) that we receive depends on the custodian.

Orion Stored information is calculated using Orion transaction data and stored nightly to our tables. While we calculate cost basis information automatically for several transaction types, some of this information is manually maintained.

Why?

While many custodians have established a direct feed with Orion to provide cost basis information, there are still some custodians that use a more manual process to provide cost basis information. Our recommendation is to use Custodian Stored information whenever possible. This is the most accurate in respect to what is provided to the SEC during an audit.

Orion Storied information is used as a backup to Custodian Stored when a custodian is unable to send cost basis information for an asset, or when a custodian does not send Orion a cost basis file.

Who Can Help?

If you have questions about cost basis information contact the Cost Basis Team @costbasis_corpactions@orionadvisor.com

0140-OAS-2/20/2019