Free financial planning apps have exploded in popularity in recent years to help retail clients meet their savings goals, but one fintech company is offering planning tools to financial advisers, too.
Toronto-based fintech Planswell is advertising customized financial plans for clients that can be assembled in under three minutes, and has opened up the technology, which previously cost $199 per month, to advisory firms in the U.S. and Canada.
Clients can build comprehensive financial plans from their mobile phones— including mortgage, debt, investments and budgeting tools — which are immediately available to their adviser, who can then push changes to the plan on their clients’ screens in real time, said Planswell CEO Eric Arnold.
“The typical planning software is guess-and-check work, collecting documents and playing around with scenarios, which can take hours,” Arnold said, adding that comprehensive plans have historically only been available to the wealthiest clients.
With free apps, however, financial plans are available in minutes. “Clients can spend a couple minutes on their phone to see when they can retire, if they’re still on track with their financial goals, and advisers can say, ‘Let me walk you through the results,’” he said.
Planswell is available through a simple link and can be added to an adviser’s marketing materials, like emails, social media campaigns or newsletters, he said. Once clients have created the plan, advisers can help them better understand their investment options.
“That puts them light years ahead in the conversation,” Arnold said.
Many of his adviser clients still work with their traditional financial planning software, and use Planswell as a supplement to the plan or to bring in potential clients.
Originally founded in 2015, Planswell relaunched in 2020 after its failure to land a funding round forced a closure in 2019 amid allegations of harassment and misconduct that stemmed from an inappropriate relationship. The new launch in 2020 has allowed the company to pivot to serving financial advisers, which is a much more sustainable business model, Arnold said.
The company will be competing for retail clients with some of the most recognizable names in financial services. Fidelity Investments, Charles Schwab & Co. and Bank of America have all launched financial planning apps in recent years to provide free advice to new investors and cross-sell them investment products.
Planswell has created around 400,000 financial plans globally and works with roughly 1,000 advisers, mostly in the U.S., since it launched the service in 2020.
The recent launches are also designed to steer non-advised clients toward managed relationships with advisers. Planswell’s client-matching service, for example, costs at least $450 a month and matches retail clients who are potentially looking for financial advice with advisers in their areas on a monthly basis.
Edward Jones launched a similar platform last year based on online dating apps like Tinder and Bumble, and the fintech company Lasso launched a gamified platform last week to help users create plans and find suitable financial advisers to continue the process.
“It’s become particularly attractive in a remote environment,” Arnold said. “We attract people to those advisers, so they can work with consumers, without needing to do the seminars and conferences. It’s certainly helped build relationships during the pandemic.”
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