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WealthTech Insights #55 with Kendrick Wakeman. Providing Value Through Financial Clarity For Every Client

How to create a platform that streamlines advisors’ workflows and doesn’t require clients to have degrees in finance.
Interview with Kendrick Wakeman, FinMason

The necessities for Wealthtech platforms in 2019

Due to the fact that FinMason operates in all verticals of the wealth-management space, they have a unique perspective on where the industry is headed. Wealthtech platforms exist to make advisors’ lives easier and more efficient, and firms are building platforms that advance this goal. Apart from optimizing workflows, platforms should empower advisors to service more clients and prospects in the same number of working hours. Modern platforms provide value through a number of different services, including client reporting, investment proposals, and comparative fee analytics. According to Kendrick, this is because advisors’ margins are going down.

“What WealthTech companies want to try and do is create reports that are visually appealing, compelling, and, above all, can be understood by someone who has no financial training whatsoever. So, some of the analytics that are good for that are things like scenario analyses and stress testing.”

Moving toward a transparent advisor-client relationship

Statistics show that one in three Americans has saved $0 for retirement. While this may be due to other extenuating factors – such as debt – a lack of financial education and preparedness may lead to many Americans retiring without a single penny to their names. Despite efforts by the US government (Dodd-Frank Act of 2010) to increase the average person’s financial literacy and personal financial-planning knowledge, it continues to be a major problem.

Financial advisors serve as the gurus that guide their clients – many who have no financial background – when making investments and putting together portfolios. However, clients and prospects don’t just want to hand their money to an advisor – they want to understand what’s going on, what the numbers show, and what the plans are for their investments. In order to adapt to clients’ evolving needs and wants, advisors must seek to add value and improve efficiency wherever possible – automating routine tasks, improving communication, and providing easy-to-understand charts and reports for clients are some methods advisors have adopted.

Kendrick pointed out that even if a client doesn’t have financial training, they understand dollar figures and the risk that is involved in a serious shift in the market.

“If I went to a client and said, ‘Hey. By the way. Here’s how much your portfolio could lose if we have another crash like 2008,’ the client is going to understand that without knowing anything about finance. They either lived through it or knew somebody who did. They have a sense [of] how rare that event is, but also how much magnitude [it has].”

Additionally, Kendrick explained that factor analyses tends to resonate more with people than asset-class analyses do. By getting a client to think in terms of interest rates and “X” amount of dollars gained or lost, they can see the whole picture in just a few numbers instead of wading through spreadsheets and esoteric-looking reports (sometimes with hidden fees).

“It’s one thing to say, ‘you need to take more risk in order to reach your goals.’ It’s another thing to show them a chart based upon their position and how much they want to spend in retirement, whether they’re going to outlive their assets. If they want to spend a certain amount in retirement, or really want to have a low-risk profile, we’re going to have to think about adjusting something else.”

An advisor could also show a client how much more money they need to save per month to live their golden years in comfort and peace. By displaying this information via a Monte Carlo analysis, with adjustable sliders and inputs, advisors can gamify financial planning.

The bottom line

The stock market is unpredictable. It is impossible to predict what will happen even with the help of robo-advisors, machine-learning algorithms, and thousands of advisors. The recent tumble in stock prices and record-breaking 1,050-point comeback in the Dow Jones shows just how much is beyond our ability to predict. Kendrick highlighted this point in our interview—advisors need the best tools for automating and optimizing their workflow, but they also need transparency so that clients can comprehend what their losses and gains could be in the case of a market hiccup.

About

Kendrick Wakeman has nearly 30 years of experience working on Wall Street as a senior executive and institutional investor. He received a BA from Dartmouth College and holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation. Since the ’80s, he has approached quantitative analytics from a hands-on perspective, having built systems from scratch when he needed them. The idle time afforded to him by his retirement in 2012 allowed him to focus on building the analytics system he had always dreamed of, leveraging modern technologies, which would eventually become FinMason.

Kendrick Wakeman

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Interviewed by Vasyl Soloshchuk, CEO and co-owner at INSART, FinTech engineering company. Vasyl is also the author of WealthTech Club, which conducts research into Fortune and Startup Robo-advisor and Wealth Management companies in terms of the technology ecosystem.

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