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Smartleaf: Rebalancing Done Right

An overview of what we do, how we do it, and what makes us different.

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We have a distinct view about how we think portfolios should be managed. We think investor-facing advisors should spend zero time reviewing, rebalancing, and trading portfolios – while still being able to provide every account with unlimited customization and optimized tax management.

That's what we’re all about. If you want to learn more about what we do, how we do it, and what makes us different, we’ve created the following guide.

What We Do

Smartleaf automates the rebalancing of highly customized, tax optimized portfolios, including direct indexes and portfolios with direct index cores. We do this to make sophisticated portfolio rebalancing simple. So simple that:

  • you can provide every client of every size the highest levels of customization and tax management. 
  • you can work with direct indexes as easily as working with ETFs. 
  • you can manage every account as if it were your only account. 
  • your client-facing advisors need to spend zero (yes, zero) time reviewing, rebalancing and trading portfolios.
  • you can document for each client their taxes saved or deferred, demonstrating your value.

Key Features

  • Automated implementation of customization requests: Custom asset allocations — Custom product selection — Security constraints — Environmental, social and governance (ESG) constraints — Religious values constraints 
  • Automated tax management: Tax loss harvesting — Tax sensitive transition — Wash sales — Short-term gains avoidance — Long-term risk appropriate gain deferral — Tax budgets — Optimal tax lot selection — Documentation for each client of the taxes you save or defer through active tax management
  • Easy direct indexes: Direct indexes, including those with fractional shares, as easy to manage as ETFs — Easy access to direct index models from Smartleaf Asset Management and third parties
  • Model Distribution Service: Asset allocation model updates — Security model updates — Alternate product choices — Access to third-party models — Access to third-party asset allocation models
  • Advanced householding: Multiple accounts in one household jointly managed to a common target, with tax-deferred accounts used as tax-free rebalancing centers — Tax sensitivity — Wash sales — Trading and turnover optimization
  • Automated cash management: Min cash — Max cash — Regularly scheduled withdrawals — Overdraft prevention — Reserve cash — “Accumulate cash”

How We Are Different:

The Advisor Customization Portal 

Smartleaf provides investor-facing advisors with a dedicated portal for setting up accounts, entering customization and tax management preferences, and notifying the trading group that the client wants to withdraw cash. As the advisor sets up the portfolio, the portal gives them and their clients real-time feedback on the tax and risk implications of their customization choices, helping clients make informed decisions. For example, if you add a social screen, the portal will tell you how much of the current portfolio would be liquidated and the tax consequences. And, for new accounts, the system will, in real time, show you proposed first trades and provide you with a projection of a multi-year tax-optimized transition plan. 

Direct Indexes as Easy as ETFs

Smartleaf makes direct indexes – where investors directly own a basket of stocks to track the performance of an index – easy. Really easy. As easy to work with as an ETF. For the investor-facing advisor, replacing an ETF with a direct-index is simply a choice on a pull-down menu. There is no separate SMA account opening or closing process; no separate communication channel; no extra steps to implement cash-in or cash-out requests; no extra steps to avoid wash sales. No extra steps at all. Just a choice on a pull-down menu. 

The tax and customization choices that make direct indexing attractive are also simple menu choices. Tax budgets? Year round tax loss harvesting – all just menu choices. Implementation of all customization and tax management preferences is automated. 

By making direct indexes as easy as ETFs, Smartleaf makes direct indexing available to all your clients, regardless of account size.

Automation, not alerts

Smartleaf goes beyond providing advisors with rebalancing alerts; we provide rebalancing automation. We don’t just tell you there are problems or opportunities; we automatically generate compliant, actionable trades that improve the portfolio. Every day, the system reviews every portfolio and suggests trades that resolve constraint violations, implement requests, reduce drift, take advantage of loss harvesting opportunities, and otherwise improve the portfolio. All of these suggested trades are actionable, constraint compliant and tax- and expense-sensitive. There isn’t a separate workflow for asset-class rebalancing, implementing security swaps or loss harvesting; there’s a single workflow for making the portfolio better. 

Smartleaf is not designed to provide you with incremental improvements in compliance and scale. We are a wholly new type of platform that automates the management of highly customized, tax-optimized portfolios, including those with direct index cores. 

Menu-driven customization

With Smartleaf, customization and tax-management options are simply choices on pull-down menus, and implementation is automated. 

For many advisors, customizing a portfolio requires making ad hoc trade decisions for each account, adding time and complexity to the rebalancing workflow. But with Smartleaf’s menu-driven customization, optimized tax management and meeting the unique investment goals and values of every client become easy. Once you enter your choices, implementing and maintaining them takes no extra time or effort. 

Whole-portfolio analytics, “True UMA”

We manage the entire portfolio — every asset class and any combination of mutual funds, ETFs, individual equities and ADRs — holistically in a single account to achieve the optimum balance between tax and risk. 

In contrast, many systems divide portfolios into sleeves or sub-accounts, managing each in semi-isolation. This creates complexity, requiring you to maintain a sub-accounting system that is reconciled to your system of record. It requires a separate asset-class level rebalancing workflow and a separate cash management workflow. And it interferes with portfolio-level management of washed sales, tax and risk. For example, suppose that you have an overweighted IBM position you can’t or don’t want to sell. If you’re overweighted in IBM, you have to be underweighted in something else. To minimize drift, your best option is to underweight something similar, such as HP. That’s easy to do when you holistically manage the whole portfolio, but not so easy when the IBM and HP holdings are in different sleeves. The term “Unified Managed Accounts (UMA)” was developed to describe an enhanced sleeved system with consolidated reporting and some cross-sleeve coordination. Smartleaf’s system goes beyond UMA to “true UMA”. We don’t merely do a better job of integrating sleeves; we dispense with sleeves entirely.

 

Want to learn more ? Read the full Smartleaf Overview here: Smartleaf Overview

 


 

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President, Co-Founder

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