In the world of technology, some of the most cutting edge computers, tools, and software are bought and used by Wall Street. Yet the reach of technology to financial advisors has been severely limited; at best, most solution categories have only a handful of players, often built around homegrown tools creative by/for one advisor and marketed to others, or much larger platforms that have to be extensively adapted and customized to actually be relevant for financial advisors. To the extent that any venture capital dollars are invested into financial services solutions, it seems they tend to be offered directly to consumers, rather than as a tool for advisors.
One of the key areas where this shortcoming is most notable is the world of “Personal Financial Management” (PFM) software, where market dominator Mint.com serves consumers directly, but has not been adapted or expanded for use with advisors, and the alternatives actually available for advisors are meager at best, often focusing solely on aggregating investment and retirement assets but falling far short of a comprehensive financial planning solution.
Nonetheless, the market potential for a PFM serving advisors is huge; while most direct-to-consumer solutions struggle to generate enough revenue to be financially successful while trying to get consumers to pay directly, or to induce consumers to buy other financial services products the tool recommends, advisors might happily pay an ongoing fee for an effective solution targeted directly for them. After all, imagine if you as an advisor could have your clients enter simple financial account information into a computer and have an immediate snapshot of the client’s assets, liabilities, and cash flows in the very first meeting (and every plan renewal thereafter). The tremendous efficiency and productivity enhancement – not to mention a better client experience – could be a breakthrough for expanding the reach of financial planning!
Which raises the question – when will a financial technology startup finally take up the incredibly low-hanging business fruit, rise to the challenge, and build the advisor PFM tool we could all so desperately use?! And why isn’t the allure of a company that could generate tens of millions of steadily recurring revenue from advisors enough to draw venture capital interest!?