Acumation Inc., the investment technology subsidiary of American Century Inc., says its goal in spinning off from the Kansas City, Mo., mutual fund provider is to draw a wider array of banks and brokerages to its online advisory services.
Kirk Kazanjian, director of investor advisory services for Acumation, said the unit has to be independent if it is to get a bigger market share.
"We are a business-to-business firm, and our only clients thus far are the banks, brokerage firms, and insurers" that are also American Century customers, he said.
The spinoff plan was announced Friday and is scheduled to be completed sometime in February.
Acumation's flagship product, FundAdvisor, lets clients of banks, mutual fund companies, and brokers select mutual fund portfolios to fit their long- and short-term goals. Clients currently can get access to the service, or engine, only through American Century's Web site. By becoming independent, the unit will be able to build custom sites for the institutions that use its services, Mr. Kazanjian said, though FundAdvisor already can be customized to offer recommendations from the fund families the client offers.
Acumation plans to add two online engines by summer, StockAdvisor and Financial Advisor. StockAdvisor will select issues that satisfy an individual's preferences and goals, and FinancialAdvisor will help investors use insurance analysis, estate planning, and investing tools to build a comprehensive money plan.
With these engines in place, Acumation would be able to offer banks and brokerages "a full dashboard of investment advice tools," Mr. Kazanjian said.
"People trust banks and go to them for financial advice, but historically speaking, banks don't have the people in place to offer advice on how these portfolios should be put together," he said. "We want to change that."
Jamie Punishill, a technology analyst with Forrester Research in Cambridge, Mass., said most banks would still rather create their own proprietary advice software, but services from companies such as Acumation, Emplanet Inc., and Financial Engines are a good alternative for smaller banks that cannot build their own.
Online advisers have to remain well funded to keep up with innovations in technology, Mr. Punishill said.
"Emplanet and Financial Engines have built a reputation and resources to stay ahead," he said. "Acumation not only has to convince the banks and the brokers that they need them, but they also have to convince the people supplying the funding."
Mr. Kazanjian said Acumation has begun marketing its products to banks and mutual funds providers, and that the response has been good.
It is considering offering a 401(k) product, he said. "We want to offer one-stop shopping and really be able to offer holistic advice for banking and financial sites."