Former Banker Jason Barsema and Tech Entrepreneur Biju Kulathakal Reshape Wealth Management With Their All-In-One Platform, Halo
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Former Banker Jason Barsema and Tech Entrepreneur Biju Kulathakal Reshape Wealth Management With Their All-In-One Platform, Halo

Tuesday, September 21, 2021 10:00 AM
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CHICAGO, IL / ACCESSWIRE / September 21, 2021 / Halo is a fintech startup founded in 2015 by Jason Barsema and Biju Kulathakal to democratize access to the types of investment opportunities that until recently were largely only available to high-net-worth families and individuals through private banks: protective investments.

Against a backdrop of the exponential rise of retail investing opportunities and technology like Robo-advisers, the paradigm has definitely changed in recent times.

Halo's founders saw the buy-side of things, especially in the world of wealth management, as being in the middle of a major transformation - with firms consolidating left and right, changing DOL Fiduciary Standards, and the increased desire for more advisors to take greater ownership of their practice, independence has never been more important. On the sell-side, they noted that things are also in flux, as technology has brought so much access and choice to the buy-side that many existing sell-side institutions find it hard to stand out.

Taking this into account alongside the sky-high costs and manpower requirements for many firms to effectively offer protective investment products anyway, it became clear that there was a major opportunity for them to do things differently.

Why protective investments?

The value of protective investments (structured notes, annuities, and buffered ETFs) has become more evident year after year as the traditional 60/40 portfolio allocation has continued to erode. As a new ‘model portfolio' begins to emerge, protective investments have a growing application to bridge the risk gap, with Halo pioneering the route to mainstream adoption.

Though protective investments are often only available to high-net-worth individuals, their long-term potential has the ability to change lives for millions around the world. It goes deeper than just generating profits though. Halo isn't just about bringing a new sector of financial services into the digital age. Their core mission has always been to create impact first, providing investment opportunities to a much wider demographic that may never have had the opportunity to access them. The long-term advantages of Halo's approach are significant - by helping consumers plan around longevity risk and inflation, variables that make financial security an impossible concept for many, they can simplify retirement income planning at scale in an increasingly uncertain world.

Overall, Halo helps create protective investment solutions geared towards today's main macro market trends: low-interest rates, high equity valuations, and a significant risk gap for retirees and pre-retirees due to bonds no longer guaranteeing a stable income.

Built by the buy-side, for the buy-side

In today's changing wealth management industry, shifting towards being transparent, independent, and fiduciary-oriented has become a major priority. While there have been attempts to help the sell-side world sustain their existing businesses, Halo is the first company to flip the buy-side on its head, empowering advisors with the ability not just to enter the protective investment landscape with full visibility, but also to customize the products they buy and sell within it throughout their entire lifecycle, a major trend in the world of wealth management today.

Halo's platform is currently split between two main lines of business: Halo Marketplace and an enterprise technology solution.

The world of protective investments can be a complex one, even for seasoned financial advisors. To combat this, Halo Marketplace delivers direct investment opportunities in protective investments through a platform packed with tools to help advisors of all experience levels to manage things with minimal difficulty. Throughout the lifecycle of each product, a holistic set of educational materials, product and portfolio analysis tools, price discovery with instant custom pricing functionality, and post-trade management solutions keep everything running smoothly.

On the enterprise side, Halo's modular technology stack seamlessly allows its buy-side and sell-side clients to create a custom interface for their unique use cases, regardless of where they fit in the protective investment ecosystem, their profile, their objectives, or their geographies. Indeed, no two clients are the same, and there are dozens of different ways to deploy protective investments, including cash alternative strategies, bond alternative strategies, and equity hedge strategies. However, Halo's offering remains flexible across the buy-side and the sell-side, providing the former with technology that allows each advisor to identify the best product or strategy for their end investors, the latter with flexible trading and risk solutions, issuance automation, and distribution capabilities, and both with the ability to manage every product throughout their full lifecycle.

What's next for Halo?

Halo envisages a future in which it's universally possible to both simplify complexity and allow for more certainty in every portfolio. The efficiencies their platform has already delivered have reduced the notional investment needed to buy protective investments, allowed for new investments on both the buy-side and the sell-side, and aimed to improve the standard of financial wellness for all global investors.

On top of being recognized as a top honoree in the finance category of Fast Company's list of Most Innovative Companies of 2021, this year marked another year of 500%+ year-on-year growth, during which Halo expanded its roster of protective investments available on its platform to include annuities, another step on their path to verticalizing the issuance and distribution of structured products.

Within the world of annuities, Halo aims to shape innovation in two ways.

Firstly, Halo provides an outsourced insurance desk to help advisors purchase annuities without needing licensing themselves, using an automated and efficient application process and allowing for the purchase of fee-based annuities to help reinforce fiduciary standards to provide the best product for every client.

Secondly, while annuities have historically only been sold by a single carrier, Halo has built the world's first true marketplace for annuities, with industry-leading features like side-by-side comparisons and analysis.

While today, Halo's marketplace only services buy-side wealth management professionals, they soon plan to release a first-of-a-kind retail offering for protective investments. They have also closed their Series C funding, which will be announced in the coming weeks.

About the founders

Jason Barsema

Jason Barsema is the co-founder and President of Halo, where he leads the team and product vision. With over a decade of experience managing structured notes, he built the Halo platform to provide all investors access to this incredible investment product. Jason previously was a Partner on a large Private Banking team at Credit Suisse, where he managed portfolios for ultra-high-net-worth individuals and institutions. Jason has his B.A. in Economics from Northern Illinois University and his M.B.A. from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

Biju Kulathakal

Biju Kulathakal is the co-founder and CEO of Halo, where he leads the organizational strategy and team. He was one of the early co-founders of Redbox. In addition, he was a founder and the past Chairman and CEO of Trading Block Holdings, an online brokerage firm specializing in option traders. Biju received a BS in Aerospace Engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Keep up with Halo

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Biju's LinkedIn:

Press: [email protected]


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