A New, Improved FinLife?
United Capital Financial Advisors LLC and FinLife Partners, a division of United Capital, recently announced the launch of FinLife CX (the CX is short for client experience). According to the firm, which bills itself as “the first and largest financial life management firm”, CX is the next iteration of their white-labeled suite of tools for advisors. For those unfamiliar with FinLife, United Capital released the product less than two years ago, a fully integrated wealth management platform that included CRM, training and coaching to non-affiliated advisors. “We launched FinLife O/S to allow advisors access to our system without having to sell their firms to us,” said United Capital founder and CEO Joe Duran. During its relatively brief existence, the FinLife O/S has attracted 22 firms representing almost $9 billion in assets under contract.
So why the new CX version? According to Duran, the greatest impediment to even more rapid adoption of the FinLife O/S was the lack of CRM flexibility in the initial release. In order to use the original FinLife, you had to adopt their CRM, a proprietary Salesforce overlay. As United Capital ultimately discovered, there are many firms that are attracted to FinLife, but that are hesitant to change CRM systems. Furthermore, according to Duran, even when firms were willing to move to the FinLife CRM, it typically took three months, and a significant amount of training to get new users comfortable with the new CRM system.
CX eliminates the need for an advisory firm to change CRM systems. FinLife CX currently offers integration with popular advisor CRM products such as Junxure, Redtail, and Salesforce. United Capital has the ability to integrate with other CRM providers if and when necessary. FinLife CX also currently offers integration with both MoneyGuidePro and Financeware for financial planning solutions, as well as Yodlee and ByAllAccounts for data aggregation.
“We’ve been working to deliver the client experience without having to convert an advisor’s entire CRM,” said Duran. “It will allow for three things to happen: shortening the time to begin delivering the unique financial life management process; expanding our universe of potential partners; and revising our pricing to reflect a cleaner, simpler, per-client model.”
ENHANCEMENTS AND NEW FEATURES
FinLife CX provides many enhancements in addition to the more open CRM architecture, including an upgraded GuideCenter, a mobile-ready portal for clients to access their financial plans, goals, accounts, and portfolios. It includes the proprietary VideoMessenger, allowing advisors to send a personalized video to deliver advice and communications without having to schedule a meeting – freeing themselves and clients from the limits of geography. It also includes the Financial Control Scorecard®, a simplified rating to help clients understand when market shifts impact their financial lives.
The discovery process now includes an updated version of the MoneyMind analyzer, which guides consumers through quick-response questions that reveal their biases toward money. MoneyMind 2.0 results blend the characteristics that influence a consumer’s decisions around spending, saving, planning, safety nets, risk-taking, and timing. This creates a foundational dialogue for an advisor and their clients.
FinLife CX includes HonestConversations, an advisor-led discussion to help individuals and couples understand their motivations and the trade-offs that come with financial decisions. It also includes the Ideal Life Index, which measures and tracks satisfaction with clients’ financial lives on an ongoing basis. The results feed into a Priority Action List to keep clients engaged with their financial planning needs and on track with goals. The client experience also includes the Investment Viewfinder tool to drive discussions to help align investment solutions with client expectations, and the Guidebook, a modern approach to delivering a financial plan. AdvisorCenter, a central hub to simplify how advisors track and manage client relationships, is also included as part of the package. AdvisorCenter syncs client information between the portal and an advisor’s CRM, portfolio accounting system, and select financial planning software with no additional steps.
The FinLife CX platform charges a flat annual fee of $600 per client. In addition, implementation and ongoing support fees are charged based upon the complexity of the individual installation. “It makes more money than it costs,” says Duran. Experience to date indicates that firms grow revenues from 20-30% within eighteen months of installation.
For those firms that want to outsource investment management to United Capital, the firm offers FinLife CX + Investment Management. This includes access to United Capital’s solution of fully-integrated portfolio reporting, accounting, and fee billing with professional support and world-class strategies. For investment management services, FinLife Partner customers can tap into United Capital’s buying power, leveraging negotiated fees with some of the world’s leading investment managers. United Capital charges an additional fee for the investment platform, which is individually determined based upon the advisory firm’s current technology stack as well as their needs.
FinLife Partners expects firms will start with FinLife CX and take full advantage of the services and integrations over time. CRM fees will also be on a per-user basis with associated implementation fees also based on conversion complexity.
Based upon what we know right now, the new FinLife CX appears to appeal to a much wider audience than the initial version. Allowing firms to stay with their existing CRM software should entice many more firms to seriously consider FinLife CX. The many enhancements to existing modules are an indication that United Capital continues to invest heavily in the FinLife platform.
Duran has made it clear that he believes the single determinant of advisor success in the coming years will be the client experience. With the launch of FinLife CX, he and his firm have put their money where their mouth is. I strongly suspect that this investment will pay off for United Capital.