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A New Robo Twist: Automation for Hourly Advisors

April 13, 2015

Garrett Planning Network and the robotechnology firm Wealthminder have joined forces to give hourly planners a cloud-based financial-planning suite for use with their clients, reports InvestmentNews.

For $75 a year per customer or $10 a month per customer, Garrett network planners can use Wealthminder software to generate and then implement financial plans for — and ideally in collaboration with — their clients. The platform also performs portfolio reviews and provides algorithm-based recommendations that can be programmed to include the advisors’ choices.

In sum, Wealthminder offers to do much of the heavy lifting for Garrett’s 320 or so planning-centric advisors, who are mainly paid by the hour.

“What’s the primary goal of the financial advisor?” Wealthminder’s founder Rich Ellinger asks in conversation with InvestmentNews. “It’s to understand what the clients are trying to accomplish with money in their life, and that they’re on a track to get there.” According to Ellinger, Wealthminder does this by letting FAs take clients through their financial plans step by step, put them into action, and then make tweaks as needed.

According to an infographic on the website of two-year-old, Reston, Va.-based Wealthminder, 100 million U.S. households “can’t afford a traditional advisor relationship,” and people “could use more help with” nearly $7 trillion in assets. If that’s not tantalizing enough, the same source says 70% of these households are “off track on the road to achieving their long-term financial goals.”

Sheryl Garrett, founder and CEO of the Garrett network, tells InvestmentNews the sophistication of Wealthminder’s platform and the ability to update its configuration gives advisors a way to give clients what they want — and to prove they have done so. This hourly-advice pioneer, who in February drew praise from President Obama for denouncing advisors who prey on downmarket investors, is a new member of Wealthminder’s advisory board.

Wealthminder already had an institutional version of its software on offer. But it had to make changes to that platform to accommodate Garrett advisors. That’s not just because Garrett clients tend to have less money than mainstream wealth-management clients, however. As InvestmentNews tells it, where the original institutional version is for clients who “interact more with the software than the advisor,” the Garrett version is designed as a collaborative tool.

For this reason, Ellinger tells InvestmentNews, Garrett FAs may find they can use the new version “with perhaps high-net-worth or sophisticated clients” as well as lower-wealth customers.

By Thomas Coyle
  • To read the InvestmentNews article cited in this story, click here.