Canadian financial planning firm Planswell is offering advisors tailored client leads if they sign up for the firm’s premium services, according to CEO Eric Arnold.
The Toronto-based company recently offered its financial planning tool for free to individual users in the U.S., while also offering an enhanced version to advisors for a fee.
Planswell announced in early November that it was making its financial planning tool available for free to U.S. residents. Individual users of the platform can enter basic financial details and in return get tax-optimized options to grow their investment accounts as well as advice on life and disability insurance and reducing debt, according to the firm.
Arnold tells FA-IQ that advisors who enroll in Planswell pay a monthly fee for the financial planning tool that allows advisors to push changes through to their clients’ plans. Remote access to a training team is also part of the service, he says.
The CEO wouldn’t share how much Planswell charges advisors, but says there is a pricing range.
Planswell’s client leads will come from the individual customers using the financial planning tool for free, according to Arnold.
The firm would start connecting advisors with client referrals “after a few months” of vetting and matching customers in advisors’ geographical areas with suitable FAs, Arnold says. The firm doesn’t take a percentage of client assets generated from successful matches, he says.
The vetting process involves ensuring advisors are, firstly, properly licensed to provide investment and insurance recommendations, Arnold says. “More importantly,” Planswell also evaluates if the advisors have “the same altruistic attitude towards serving others,” he adds.
Because the software merely matches advisors with clients and specific investment recommendations are done by advisors, Planswell doesn’t need to obtain licensing or registration with regulators in the U.S., Arnold says.
Planswell first made its tool available to financial advisors in April. So far, several hundred advisors in Canada have adopted the planning software, Arnold says.
The firm’s move to bring its service to the U.S. comes amid a spate of recent launches of free financial planning services by the likes of Fidelity, Bank of America, and Charles Schwab. Fidelity released Spire in July, followed by the launch of Schwab Plan in August and Bank of America’s Life Plan in October.
“By increasing access to goal planning, these companies are creating a natural funnel from a free service to their trading or managed account platforms,” according to a November report on the robo-advisory space by RIA Backend Benchmarking.
Another Canadian wealth management firm, CI Financial, has been expanding in the U.S. Since entering the U.S. RIA market in the first quarter of this year, CI has acquired or agreed to acquire stakes in eight RIAs directly and in 11 overall when including deals by its affiliates. The latest acquisition is St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Doyle Wealth Management, announced earlier this month.
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