Only 35% of Americans have worked with a financial advisor to meet their investment goals according to Northwestern Mutual’s Planning and Progress Survey. Research indicates that financial advisors over time can add an additional 3% of annual returns. Compounded over 25 years, this results in an additional doubling of funds invested, helpful for the 77% of Americans who are anxious about their financial situation. FinanceHQ is a platform for individuals to find their ideal financial advisor or RIA (registered investor advisor). The platform initially focuses on learning about your investment goals, horizon, and needs which is then used to match you with a vetted advisor from FinanceHQ’s network of investment professionals. 100% free to use for consumers, FinanceHQ collects a lead generation fee from the investment advisors. To align incentives with the client, the company serves as a fiduciary and is obligated to find the most suitable advisors for clients based on their investment profile.
AlleyWatch caught up with FinanceHQ CEO Alex Choi to learn more about the business, the company’s strategic plans, and much, much more…
Tell us about the product or service that FinanceHQ offers.
FinanceHQ is a platform that connects individuals with trusted financial advisors and resources for a better financial future.
How is it different?
We are building a more data-driven, personalized solution that is powered by real-time artificial intelligence and machine learning. We use a combination of real-time psychographic and demographic data as well as other qualitative and quantitative insights from multiple sources to validate and understand a user, their intent and financial needs. We then use proprietary technology to marry that data to specific advisor criteria, matching in real-time and connecting the two parties through our own automated technological integrations. Additionally, we work closely with our partner firms to help them build their own brand equity and increase discoverability. As such, we offer our partners a variety of ways to build their brands and increase their reach through promotion on our highly visited advisor directory, content syndication and additional tools that can be leveraged across their practices to improve their own direct client acquisition
What market does FinanceHQ target and how big is it?
Our goal is to help match as many individuals or families and advisors as possible while also removing the friction and steps necessary to make these connections. There are millions of Americans who need access to financial advisors. Sixty percent of Americans say their financial planning needs improvement, yet only a third seek the help of a financial advisor. We are registered to do business in all 50 states.
What is the business model?
There are hundreds of thousands of financial experts — specifically fiduciaries — who are eager to help but struggle to connect with individuals who could benefit the most from their expertise. In a crowded market, it’s difficult for a reputable professional to stand out. For established practitioners, word-of-mouth referrals may slow or diminish, and cultivating COI relationships takes precious time. In addition, new professionals working to establish an initial client base and firms looking to expand their existing practice need better support.
We are solving this disconnect and through personalized matching, finding the right advisors to match with the right prospects and using technology to help grow their books of business.
What inspired the start of FinanceHQ?
Personal finance is something I’ve always been passionate about both personally and professionally. In my time at Betterment, I gained a deep understanding of how big the need and opportunity for access to sound financial advice really was. That’s why I was so excited when I got connected with Wilbur Labs, which had the same passion for solving a similar issue and was already in the process of researching solutions. That’s why I couldn’t have been more excited to cofound FinanceHQ alongside Amanda and the team at Wilbur Labs.
How are you preparing for a potential economic slowdown?
While unfortunate, any economic uncertainty or slowdowns make the need for trusted financial advice that much greater, and we are preparing to help anyone and everyone in need of financial guidance during these trying times. We are well capitalized, with a lean team and focused on providing maximum value for our users and our advisor partners.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
Ultimately, our main objective is to help as many clients and advisors as possible. While in stealth mode, we have already placed hundreds of millions of assets with trusted fiduciaries. The next milestone is crossing the one billion of assets matched mark. We’re also focused on making sure we bring on partners with specific expertise in key financial areas, ensuring coverage across all topics of interest.
What is the one piece of startup advice that you never got?
We were fortunate enough to build FinanceHQ inside Wilbur Labs, a startup studio that solves consumer pain points and builds market-leading companies. The team continues to provide operational support and resources as we grow, so we have received plenty of sound advice. The one piece of advice that I don’t think you hear frequently enough is to plan, plan, plan. There’s a bit of a mindset in the startup world to move fast and break things…. I think the opposite is often true. The companies with the best chance of long-term success do the research, spend the time planning, talk with prospective customers or partners, and focus on growing at a sustainable pace.
If you could be put in touch with anyone in the New York community, who would it be and why?
I would choose Jamie Dimon because he is an exemplary leader in the New York community and has had a profound impact on the finance industry. As the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, he possesses a wealth of knowledge and experience in finance, leadership, and business strategy.
Why did you launch in New York?
New York is the financial capital of the world with a robust tech scene and some of the best talent in the world. If you can make it here…
What’s your favorite fall destination in and around the city?
I have two little guys, so right now we are very into Central Park and the Bronx Zoo.