#ItzOnWealthTech Ep 14: Cleaning Up Clients’ Financial Closets with Adam Holt
“Consolidation of assets has been one of the leading value propositions of what we’re doing, because if we can clean up a client’s financial closet, that’s more valuable than any kind of a investment strategy.”
— H. Adam Holt, CEO of Asset-Map, LLC
Adam Holt is the Founder and CEO of Asset-Map, one of the fastest growing processes adopted by modern financial professionals. Successfully enabling professionals to visually facilitate a meaningful financial conversation with customers in both traditional and digital media, Adam has served as the creative visionary behind Asset-Map and its corresponding technologies – impacting tens of thousands of households worldwide and cataloging over $250 billion in financial instruments.
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This episode of Wealth Management Today is brought to you by Ezra Group Consulting. If your firm is evaluating new technology or looking to improve your current wealth platform, you need to contact Ezra Group. Don’t spend another day using technology that doesn’t offer an elegant user experience. Your advisors and clients deserve better and you can deliver it to them with the help of Ezra Group.
Topics Covered in this Episode
- What is Asset Map, and what sets it apart from other tools [03:49]
- How advisors can integrate asset mapping into their financial planning process [06:48]
- What advisors have to say – how Asset Map helps their practice, and what they like most about it [09:12]
- Surprises clients did not expect to find in their own financial closets [11:42]
- Trends Asset Map is seeing across the industry [15:04]
- Discussion on wallet share [17:07]
- How knowledge of liquid assets can affect an advisor’s planning process [19:49]
- Why internal marketing firms don’t do a very good job explaining products to their advisors [29:17]
- Thoughts on subscription-based models [32:07]
- New features and functionality Asset Map is working on [34:34]
- Tracking peer spending and debt [40:34]
Companies & People Mentioned:
- Charles Schwab [32:11]
- Goldman Sachs [29:53]
- MoneyGuidePro [06:53]
- Orion Advisor Services [35:29]
- Riskalyze [07:34]
- United Capital [19:30]
If you are interested in more information about some of the topics Adam and I discussed, these blog posts would be useful:
- 19 Ideas from the T3 Advisor Conference That Your Boss Needs to Know
- The Velocity of Technology Change is Increasing: What Can Advisors Do To Keep Up?
- 17 Takeaways from Envestnet’s Advisor Summit 2019
- Mission: Impossible – Choosing the Right Digital Advice Vendor
Complete Episode Transcript:
Craig: Welcome to Planet Wealthtech. This is your host, Craig Iskowitz. I’m a strategy consultant focusing on wealth management solutions, both business and technology, as well as the surrounding fintech space. Each week here on the Wealth Management Today podcast, I speak with people who are at the cutting edge of technology and pushing the envelope to bring us new products and new ideas that can help your firm stay one step ahead of the competition. On today’s episode I spoke with industry veteran and software innovator, Adam Holt, CEO of Asset Map. I’ve really been looking forward to this conversation ever since I got Adam on my calendar. We talk about a lot of things, cover a lot of ground, and you’re going to learn not only a bit about what makes Asset Map such as a special tool, but some industry trends around holistic advice and a few tips for leveraging software like this in an advisor’s practice. So let’s get started!
Craig: Hello and welcome to the wonderful world of wealth tech. This is the Wealth Management Today podcast, I’m your host Craig Iskowitz. Today I’m excited to have Adam Holt, the CEO of Asset Map. Hey Adam.
Adam: Hello Craig, how are you doing?
Craig: I am doing fantastic, I’m so glad to have you on. I’ve always been a big fan of the Asset Map product, I’ve seen it in action and a bunch of my clients use it both, large and small. So I’m excited to talk a little bit more about it and some of the trends you’re seeing, but I guess we have to start off with a little overview. So I know what it is and I love the product, but what exactly is Asset Map and what makes it different from other similar tools?
Adam: Sure. Well you know I’ve been an advisor for over 20 years, and I think like all tech that really works in the field, it’s attempting to solve a problem based upon necessity. Most of us in the financial services space have gotten pretty comfortable with the heavy planning tools; in fact, most of us started with a yellow pad and a financial calculator. So we really understand the math behind a lot of the present future values, especially planning as it relates to not only the aspirational goals like retirement, education, and funding, but also debt repayment, loss of life scenarios, and those protections as well. I came from an artistic background (architecture), and a few years ago I went to some of my high net worth clients and the biggest challenge with them was not getting into the details of the plan numerically, it was talking about the structure: legally, ownership, tax structure, of all the decisions they had made. Because their real question was are they doing the right thing? So we had to bring in expertise and focus on our financial planning background. And what we started doing in our firm is creating visualizations of this current structure of their financial resources; not only their assets but their insurance policies, their trusts, their business interest, their debts, obligations to family members that were never on a balance sheet, as well as the people that were involved: charities, special needs, trusts, other business partners.
Adam: So Asset Map came together primarily as a way to communicate all of the different financial decisions that a household is addressing, so that the financial professional can spend more of their time conversationally talking about what changes and what questions we need to ask in order to put them in a better condition. So fast forward to today, Asset Map is actually a SAAS platform for financial professionals and firms to create custom visualizations of their clients regardless of complexity, and be able to catalog that information and instantly be able to create a standardized graphic that can be used in the field with our clients, to really drive a meeting. Throughout the years we’ve had to add on feature functionality that advisors have asked for, as we are serving well over 3,700 advisors around the world. We’ve had to install elements such as a needs-based analysis, a quick one-page analysis on whether you’re funded for major goals, in order to get to a two-page report that could include a balance sheet if you want it, and a policy summary. So I think to encapsulate that whole thing, we’re focusing on the client engagement level. We’re not trying to do financial planning or CRM or portfolio management, we’re trying to do meeting management, or the meeting experience between the advisor and the customer.
Craig: Right. You have integrations with a financial planning tool, that’s why you just announced the integration with MoneyGuidePro. So how do advisors who are MoneyGuidePro users or even new users integrate Asset Map into that process?
Adam: These are both great tools, and of course they’re both staples for many of us in the practice. If you’re doing some kind of planning, you’ve probably installed a financial planning tool of some measure, if you’re not using Excel. So very often a lot of us will have a good amount of data in those platforms, so we have built and released or are building integrations with the major financial planning companies to visualize the data that you have in them, without having to re-key that. We’ve also created integrations with both portfolio management, if your data is there, for managing portfolios with Riskalyze on the risk side, as well as some others coming in; of course CRMs for the human component.
Adam: There’s really three ways that you can get data into any system: you can interview your client and you can get that information, which I think many advisors still do today, and I think we do that very well. We’ve gotten client building of an asset map down to 15 to 20 minutes, so it’s not onerous. The second way I think is really critical to get data into a system like this, is to allow the customer to do it if they want. In other words, can you send a link to a customer that they would be able to open their iPhone, put in some data before a meeting, and you can build an entire asset map for that first meeting? So we enable that through a discovery tool we created. And then the third way, as you already mentioned, is integrations. I think the fastest growing space for all of us in fintech is to make sure that nobody is doing double entry, because we can’t afford errors on these types of these tools. Not from a compliance standpoint, but also from a user experience standpoint. None of us have enough time to manage that. So integrations is really critical for us, in terms of getting the data into Asset Map, but also reviewing the special sauce behind some of those integrations inside of our meeting environment.
Craig: One thing I was interested in when we were at the Carson conference, we were talking to an advisor who was passing by who happened to be one of your customers, and they were saying how helpful it was to their practice. When I look at it, I really like the visualization and how I can see everything on one page, especially things like insurance. But what are advisors saying that they like most about the product, and how does it help their practice?
Adam: There’s really two things that we’re seeing. The number one comment we get back in our testimonial log is that the customers are saying to the advisors, thank you. This is the thing that I’ve always wanted from you, but I didn’t know how to ask for it. The irony is that Asset Map on its face does not always seem obvious as to what the value proposition is, to most advisors. It’s not until you show it to the consumer, who’s typically used to seeing your statements and your large planning reports and doesn’t open them or read them and basically asks you what do they mean, that they finally say, thank you, you’ve finally given me something that I can take home and talk with my family about, that represents my life. Because it’s almost like a treasure map, it’s where all your stuff is buried; and that’s easy to converse about, both in the meeting as well as home after the fact.
Adam: So I would say that the number one value proposition has been that it’s a consumable deliverable for the customer that they really appreciate and is branded for the advisor. The interesting thing about that is that when advisors tend to talk about the structure of a household and zoom out, stop talking about performance and fees and instead talk about legal structure, intent, then why you have certain instruments, what you realize is that a lot of people’s financial inventory is mostly haphazard, right? Because when you think about it, most of our financial resources are from either our employer, our past employers, the government, or a legacy advisor relationship. And we keep these things as legacy instrument and never really address them. I call it your financial closet or your financial inventory. It’s not until you literally pull this stuff out of that closet and dump it on the bed, that you get a real insight to say, this doesn’t fit anymore.
Craig: Like skeletons in their closet?
Adam: Yes; you see skeletons, you find ghosts, and other stuff that doesn’t fit.
Craig: What’s the most surprising thing that someone found in their financial closet that they didn’t expect, when they went through the process?
Adam: Usually it’s something the advisor found that they were surprised the client never told them about. The most typical thing is advisors thinking that they manage 100% of the wallet share or they know where it all is, either because they’re reliant on aggregation or they just figured the client has told them. I can’t even tell you how often advisors have called us up and said, I just uncovered $1 million my client didn’t tell me about, that’s been languishing along in some account that’s not getting paid attention to. The reason they didn’t discuss it is because they either decided it wasn’t relevant for that advisor, they just didn’t want to talk about it, or was it some kind of legacy decision they weren’t proud of. But 9 times out of 10 it gives the advisor a better window into what the real wallet share is, and it also gives them an opportunity to actually fix it in many cases. So consolidation of assets has been one of the leading value propositions of what we’re doing, because if I can just clean up the closet, sometimes that’s more valuable than any kind of investment strategy I can talk about.
Craig: I like how you called it a treasure map.
Adam: I do call it a treasure map sometimes; to the right community or to an advisor, it IS a treasure map. Because it shows where all the buried treasure is. Then you can see that some of this is not buried very well or protected, or it’s not in the right place. And by the way, families tend to not know either. You usually find that one person is in charge of finances in many households; there tends to be one lead person in charge, and they put stuff everywhere in their own head. We’ve seen plenty of situations where other family members have to step in, diligent or otherwise in tough situation, and they don’t know where anything is. They never went through the process of actually cataloging it, but a map they will do if it’s easy.
Craig: If I was looking for an advisor, I’d want to see the list of advisors who are using your product, because I want that. I tried to make it by hand but it’s really tough, so I’m glad you got software to do it.
Adam: As you know it’s not just making it the first time, it’s semi keeping it up to date. Because if you don’t have an opportunity to talk to somebody about it, you would be surprised how many things you’ll leave out. There’s an interesting thing that happens when you reveal the asset map to someone else, right? It’s like showing you my goals list; if I keep it to myself I might keep myself on it, but if I show it to someone else now I have no choice, have to address the things that are clearly not serving me. And that’s what we think the main thing is for advisors, more than anything. With all the tech looking the same and all the customer experience looking the same, the portals and everything, I think the real indication of value for the client over the next several years is going to be the relationship and the insight that an advisor can deliver. We call it advisor intelligence as opposed to artificial intelligence. Apply advisor intelligence to my situation in real time, and you’ll have my loyalty for years. That’s where I think advisors are really going to make a difference, not on the tech side.
Craig: Exactly. And as you said, you’ve got 4,000 seats or advisors using your product in 650 firms. Is there some data you can share or trends you’re seeing? That must be a tremendous amount of data that you’ve got to catalog.
Adam: There is a good amount of data. Asset Map so far has cataloged about $400 billion in resources. That’s across insurances, assets, liabilities, and income sources for about 300,000 households. So what’s interesting about that is if you look at some averages, you start to see some interesting data. One of the things that we picked up recently in a study that we were doing was that the average household income on our platform is about $130,000 per year, the average assets were about $900,000 (that includes real estate), and debts on average about $140,000, and around $400,000 of life insurance on average. Even with that measure, you could probably say that most of those households are under-insured relative to income protection. The average wallet share in that scenario was about 12%. So these are advisors who are really involved and engaged with relatively high net worth clients, and still the wallet share is relatively low. And I think that was a big surprise for us, because we tend to have financial planning or RIA planning-minded advisors, and still there’s so much opportunity to cross engage and to protect families that’s not being done.
Craig: That’s interesting, so 12% wallet share. I hear a lot of statistics, but I don’t really hear a lot on wallet share. So is that low or was that an average?
Adam: 12% in general would probably be low for a financial advisory firm. Recognize also though that Asset Map in that statistic is cataloging all assets, which would include real estate, 401Ks, liquid assets that might be business interests or otherwise, and cash, which advisors tend not to manage. So it’s giving a disproportionate argument that all of the assets are actually available for management. But if you just look at the investible dollars, that number runs up about 35-40%. So investible assets that are non-employer sponsored, non-business, or non-real estate, so that’s kind of interesting. What I think is more indicative is that there are still a good number of individuals who have a lot of liquid assets or assets that are going to be eligible to be managed by an advisor. One of the interesting things, especially as this population continues to age, we all know that the baby boomer population is going to force a massive wealth transfer; either through distribution to pay for their retirement, or in estates as legacy assets.
Adam: So there’s so much opportunity, not the least of which is on the insurance side, but also with how much of that wealth is still available for an advisor to potentially help work with, that’s not normally considered. Even if you were to manage 80-90% of the wallet share, it still doesn’t address the fact that there may be two times that actually in assets that are going to be turning over in the next 20 years. So that’s why I think the industry itself is an unbelievable opportunity to grow well beyond where it is today, because the numbers are actually under-counting what the potential is.
Craig: So that’s interesting, your software is capturing assets that other advisors don’t normally capture, when it comes to real estate and other liquid assets. So that’s artificially depressing the wallet share, but it’s also increasing the amount of future transfer that they should be aware of.
Adam: That’s exactly right.
Craig: So how does that help advisors, what do advisors do with that information? When they see all these liquid assets, how is it helping them in their planning process?
Adam: If you look at what the customer really wants and expects from the advisor, advisors are bringing insight and ideas to the table that they didn’t know to ask about. It’s no different than going to a physician, right? If I knew what the problem was I don’t think I would go to the physician, I might just Google it. But the challenge is that when you have an advisor (especially one on retainer) or you perceive that you have an advocate and advisor, the expectation is that they’re looking out for your best interest – even if they don’t manage those resources. I think that’s the big difference about a mindset of planning an independent space.
Adam: So very often we find advisors are spending an inordinate amount of their time talking about the money they manage or the policies that they place, and they’re not talking about the other elements: taxes, legal, structure on trusts, or legacy as often as they should or could be. And when you force them to do it by putting an asset map in front of them at every meeting, you say not only are we talking about the whole picture, but everything’s on the table. And it allows an advisor to see when something’s out of place. I think Asset Map is very much like an x-ray; it’s not intended to tell you what’s good or bad, it’s just telling you the facts. A skilled advisor can look at an asset map and can see how assets are clustered in the wrong place out, how they’ve been left at old employers, or how they should be in trust clearly based upon this household.
Craig: So Asset Map is the x-ray, and the advisor is the radiologist.
Adam: Very good, that’s it. And then ideally the radiologist sees things and brings ideas and maybe even other expertise to the table, to diagnose not only problems but opportunities to leave that family in a better situation. Not just focused on the malady, but also the wellness opportunity. So that context, because clients don’t tend to come into the conversation saying, “Tell me where to invest my money only.” They have an expectation that’s greater, which I think comes back to the bigger standard of care being holistic and acting in the best interest.
Craig: I want to take a little break from this episode to talk to you about one of my favorite sponsors, the Invest in Others Foundation. Invest in Others is a non-profit, you can find them at investinothers.org. They look to raise money and give out awards to charities that are sponsored by financial advisors, so it’s financial advisor’s favorite charities and charities that they spend a lot of time supporting. Invest in Others looks to get sponsorships from the industry and funnel that money to advisor’s favorite charities. I really like this non-profit, I think you should take a look at it. Again, that’s investinothers.org. They have a couple other programs: one is a Grants for Good program, delivering money to different needy organizations and needy groups. They’re also starting a corporate awards program, which is going to be a little bit different but still within the industry and another way for financial services and wealth management corporations to help donate money to people in need. I really like Invest in Others, I think you should take a look at them at investinothers.org.
Craig: You mentioned earlier about how advisors are getting away from talking about performance, and they’re talking more about legal structure and financial inventory. But that seems to be something more advisors need to be doing, especially as robo advisors become more popular and asset management becomes more of a commodity, or as advisors are trying to sell UTFs and that they can pick the market. So do you see your 3,700 advisors doing more financial planning focused practices and less investment management practices?
Adam: We don’t always have insight as to where our advisor’s business is. We tend to see a good amount of wealth management-minded advisors pick up Asset Map because they’re critically focusing on the fact-finding process, which is essential for all financial advice; they have to understand the facts before they can give you advice. So they’re already doing this in some measure, and Asset Map is a regurgitation of that visually. What I think is interesting is that we are seeing a good amount of investment advisors start to cross-pollinate insurance placement. They’re actually fixing more insurance problems because they just see it; it’s in front of you and you can’t ignore, right?
Adam: So you’re seeing those advisors who tend to lead with estate planning or legacy planning also all of a sudden seeing opportunities to manage assets that they were probably ignoring, or really didn’t focus on. So what we’re calling the “wealth management effect” is the goal of advisors to start helping in more areas, not just the specific area, or bringing a team. And I think that’s been the impact we’ve seen and now cataloged the last several years, significant increases in productivity in the placement of new insurance, as well as AUM as a result of using Asset Map. We now have pretty strong statistics at scale that show that advisors are making more money using the product.
Craig: Any numbers you can share along those lines?
Adam: Sure. Our largest enterprise today with over 1,000 users has now given us back three-year numbers that indicate that the advisors using Asset Map are making 30% more revenue than those that are not using it. We have that now cataloged over the last three years; 2018 they did 29.8% more than everyone else who was not using Asset Map, so that’s a pretty strong indication.
Craig: So you have one client with 1,000 users?
Adam: That’s right. The numbers I just gave you indicate what we would call developing advisors, advisors who are starting out in the business and are in those first four years along. The hardest part of our business I think are those first early years of being an advisor; it’s very challenging. And because those advisors are earning so much more revenue, it clearly affects their retention and their ability to stay in the business, which I think is one of the biggest challenges in the industry. So we’re really excited about these numbers, we just got them back from that one enterprise. But we’re also seeing that in some of our small units as well. The difference is that that large enterprise tracks numbers at scale. Most independent advisors can barely tell you what they’re making, they just know it’s positive and it’s covering expenses. The large organizations have these resources to tell you who’s making what, and when they come and go.
Craig: So this large client that you mentioned, 1,000 advisors are using Asset Map and 1,000 aren’t?
Adam: That’s right.
Craig: So how fast do you expect those 1,000 who aren’t will start signing up?
Adam: What’s interesting is that they actually all have it, all 2,000 have been provided with Asset Map at the cost of the enterprise. But I think typical to all to enterprise delivery of technology as we see, large organizations will provide a software or a tool or process that works at no cost to the advisors, and a good number of them won’t even open it up. I think that’s a product of a couple of things. Number one, there are some advisors out there that just want to stay in Excel and they want to do their own thing, and they just don’t trust anything else. Despite the fact that people around them are productive, I think it’s always about messaging and awareness. And even with a community like that, we still find it challenging sometimes to get people to do the basics. It’s no different than going to the gym, right? We all know we can do a better job being healthy, but we don’t go -even if the gym is free. So I would love for you to explain it to me, why that is happening.
Craig: Well I go to the gym all the time.
Adam: But why don’t they use the technology they have, right?
Craig: Well I see that all the time. We have mutual clients and we see them have very little penetration on certain tools, they just don’t want to use it. But something we talk about a lot is that the marketing and internal marketing at firms is bad. They’ll pay for products and don’t do a very good job explaining to their advisors (who are their employees or clients) why this is good for them; they don’t do a very good job of marketing or communicating to them about these tools and technologies and processes and procedures that they have, and how implementing these will not only makes you more efficient, but also make your business more valuable. Look at United Capital. Why is Goldman buying United Capital? They are paying so much money because he’s got a process, it’s repeatable, and the business is set up so they can turn it over some else and it’s still running the same way.
Adam: Yeah, that’s a great point. Getting people to do what they know has always been challenging with anything. I’ve been speaking a good amount recently about finding micro innovation. In many ways, Asset Map was a micro-innovation in a firm that had the ability to scale and be impactful in other people’s practices, and that’s why it’s grown to the point it has. But there’s so much opportunity for innovation in our own space, which I think is really critical. But the challenge is that it doesn’t have to be massive, right? We typically see large organizations try to solve a really big problem and throw millions of dollars at it because they think they’re going to find the silver bullet. And then lo and behold, they can’t implement it because culture doesn’t align, there’s no integration, or the training’s really poor. And the reality is that a lot of the problems that the industry has have actually been solved. I think that the solutions are buried inside of firms that have already solved these problems through workarounds or Excel or a process or a workflow or a positioning; it’s just a matter of getting that and bubbling it up to scale. And that’s the challenge.
Adam: I think our industry really has to figure out a way to incentivize that kind of innovation and not try to stifle it. When I was trying to do Asset Map 10 years ago, it took me two years to get a compliance approved, let alone anyone to say yes you’re allowed to use it. Now it’s impacting millions of people, and it took 10 years! And it was only because I kept pushing and self-funding and saying no, this is going to work. So I think that that’s an unfortunate problem in the situation of the regulatory side, as well as the fact that I think the industry doesn’t want to change. Now that things are starting to change, we’ve had fintech innovation unlike any ever before, but I don’t think even large organizations know how to actually execute it.
Craig: What do you think of the subscription model? Schwab came out with a subscription-based pricing for financial planning. Do you see that as being a trend that’s going to pick up, where more advisors are going to start being forced into that model? And how will that change the way advice is delivered?
Adam: I think it’s interesting. I love seeing innovation like this, especially when it follows a model of something people are already comfortable with. Many of us are comfortable in our own personal lives with subscriptions. In fact, we probably consume them much faster, because they’re easier and affordable. But I think you’ve got to provide an outlet that looks like other things people are already comfortable with. And I think the days of just charging to manage money on its own without planning value is numbered and will probably be reserved for the highest net worth, for complex investment strategies. I think that financial planning is finally starting to get into its own and you’re going to see multiple models. I wouldn’t be surprised if you started seeing funding success models, right? What if you paid your advisor based upon how funded you were for your retirement goals, as opposed to how well your assets did in performance? It’s different, but it aligns the incentive.
Adam: What an individual wants from their advisor is to know that they’re protected, they want to know that they’re doing the right thing, they measure their savings not only in performance but also in reduction in taxes or reduction in legal costs. So can you find a way to align what they really care about with your competition? And if you deliver that, fantastic. They will be happy to give you a piece, because you’re saving and finding that. The hedge funds came close to doing this performance-based compensation, but I think we should find a way to actually participate in the negative in some way.
Craig: So going back to what you’re talking about with micro-innovation, are there any other interesting features and functionality you guys are working on that will be coming out soon?
Adam: Yes. Because Asset Map is used in meetings with clients, the fun part about it is that if you’re using a large screen or even paper or remote meeting environments like screen sharing, getting clients and advisors to literally look at the same diagram and say yes, this blueprint or this asset map actually is right and allow them to ask questions, has been really great. The requests we’ve been getting back for are regarding specific financial instruments, so now you just click a button to show the risk on it. We actually enabled Riskalyze to put the risk score number right on top of an individual instrument in Asset Map. And Orion recently delivered the ability to put performance right on the asset map. We’re also about to deliver an innovative on notes, because advisors said they want to be able to put a little note in, to remind them to talk about that. If it’s not in their CRM they will lose it and never see it again, but in the meeting they want to make sure to bring up a certain topic. You click on the person and they have a note right there that tells them what to do, you can even embed hyperlinks that will take you to wherever you want to go, right from that person. It’s almost like a soft integration to virtually any website on the plan. So there’s some really interesting things we’ve done there. We’ve done multiple currencies, multiple languages now in Asset Map, we’re about to release a cashflow module to show the funding levels where you run out of money and how many distributions need to be made throughout the year.
Craig: Is that a cash flow model like something you would see in eMoney, or something more basic?
Adam: We didn’t want to build something that was already done in any planning tool, we focused many years ago on the real core need of the client. If you’ve heard any theme from me, it’s that I only want what the customer really values for my meeting experience; everything else is for the advisor and for their confidence and hopefully their competence. But what I’m really trying to communicate is, are we okay, where is everything, and are we on track for major goals in the least number of pages as possible, so that we can keep the conversation on what we’re actually going to do. The key to that was, we delivered the asset map but then we had to build a module that was called target maps, which told you how funded you are for major goals. Those are the basics: retirement, education, loss of life, disability, long-term care, and anything you can think of on, down to the deck. Tell me how much capital you need to spend, and I’ll tell you whether we’re on track based on some very minor assumptions.
Adam: Because I don’t think that most clients actually want to go through the planning process. That’s just what we call it, financial planning. What they want to know is are they funded for major goals. So we use a math model that focused on how funded are you, and if you’re not fully funded to meet this expected cash flow, how much are you funded, and what specifically do you need to do right now in order to fund it at 100%? And we deliver that in a one-page, compliant approved experience so you can focus more on how you are going to do that. Over the years clients kept saying to us advisors, “Can I just see where I run out of money and when I run out of money, like a traditional planning model?” So we are about to release this module, which can be turned on or off if you’re already using planning tools. We call it funding because we want to focus on how funded are you and what are you going to do about it, as opposed to getting stuck and running out of money at 82 based upon this Monte Carlo. We think that that’s better served for in the financial planning tools, not in the engagement tools.
Craig: Plus, you wouldn’t want to do it twice.
Adam: You know what’s funny about that? Of the advisors using our tools, 80% of them will use the target maps as a quick calculator to see what they want to prioritize. Because if I can get my presentation layer down to two pages…
Craig: What do you mean prioritize?
Adam: If I ran those modules for you, if you built an asset map with me and we talked about it, discussed what was right and what needed to be fixed, but then I just ran all of those target maps (life, disability, retirement, everything) all by one click, I can then sort them and say okay, which ones are we going to prioritize? Now I’m keeping a live, constantly tracked model of whether we’re funded for major goals. So I can instantly look at any client and I can see where their priorities are and where they’re underfunded, and I know what we need to talk about. Because that’s the key for advisors, to spend more of their time in revenue producing activity, not thinking about how do I add value.
Craig: You mentioned peers, can I track what my peers are spending or my peer’s debt across all Asset Map customers?
Adam: Originally we started doing that, we started reviewing what would the average person who’s like me have? The problem was that our data was all based upon people in the system, so it was biased towards families that obviously had more than others because they were people that were engaging because they needed advice. So it was unfortunately miscommunicating. Think about it this way – if I told you that the average person your age in our system (because that’s where our data comes from) has $250,000 of income, you are going to either feel like that’s a lot more than you or it’s a lot less than you, and there’s no way to actually manage the behavioral component of that, right? It’s the same thing with insurance or assets or houses, you measure yourself against the wrong yardstick. So we removed that and said it’s more important to tell our customers what kinds of vehicles their peers have.
Craig: That’s what I think is really cool, that she can show that. That’s something that’s very valuable, to put the client’s holistic financial picture into focus and in comparison with where they sit against other peers who are very similar people, who are going to a financial advisor or have a different proclivity to organization and getting their financial lives in order, to those who don’t. It should be a somewhat homogeneous population, so showing me the peers across that would be very useful.
Adam: The good thing about it is we learned behaviorally when I show you on your map other things that people like you have considered or things that I think you should consider (because I know your situation), when it’s on your map it’s like me going into your closet at home and putting a hanger on there, and on that hanger it’s not a piece of clothing, but it’s a note for something that needs to be filled, right? It’s, “you’re missing sweaters, or you’re missing dress shirts.” It’s in your face all the time, and there’s something that happens behaviorally when you look at your own map and gaps are actually outlined for you. You actually want to fix it or you want to resolve it or say, “I’m not buying it, throw that out because it causes clutter.” So it’s really key for advisors who don’t want to be in the sales mode all the time.
Craig: That’s awesome. From all the demos I’ve seen of your product, I can imagine a client seeing it for the first time and really just having their eyes opened and lightbulbs going off in their heads about how things are all hooked together. They have their pre and post Asset Map lives.
Adam: Yeah, it’s been a fun process to be a part of.
Craig: Yeah, that’s great. Adam, I really appreciate you spending time with me on the podcast today. Thanks for sharing some of your data, it was fascinating. I really enjoyed it.
Adam: My pleasure, Craig. Thanks for everything you’re doing in our industry, and for helping all of us grow and learn more.
Craig: You can learn more about Asset Map from their website at asset-map.com. You can reach out to CEO Adam Holt on LinkedIn, or find him at one of the many vendor or custodian conferences he attends. That’s where I find him. I couldn’t pull this podcast together without the help of the Wealth Management Today production team, digital content manager Holli Muth and audio producer Miles Carter. Thanks again for tuning in to our podcast, and check out our past episodes on our blog at WMToday.com.