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#12 Matt Reiner – Transcript

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SUMMARY KEYWORDS

benjamin, clients, technology, firm, people, industry, data, advisor, build, work, tasks, crm, points, business, process, desires, side, learning, matt, software

SPEAKERS

Louis van der Merwe, Matt Reiner

 

Louis van der Merwe 

Welcome to another episode of financial planners, South Africa, where we push the evolution of financial advice. And today it’s with someone that I rank really highly in terms of listening to him watching his shows. And just looking at the content that he’s putting out in terms of technology. His name’s Matt Reiner. And Matt is a CFA charter holder, a certified financial planner, more than a decade worth of experience and just pushing the industry forward. Matt, thank you so much for joining us today.

 

Matt Reiner 

Yeah, well, thanks for having me, and really appreciate those good words. And I’m looking forward to the conversation and hopefully providing some, some good insights for everybody.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

It’s great to be connecting so far. And you all based in Atlanta. Give us a little bit of a background in terms of how you got into this industry like

 

Matt Reiner 

yeah, so, you know, I grew up in the industry, right? My, my dad started one of our wealth management firms about 25 years ago now. And I grew up in the space watching him build that for him. I always joke that, you know, everybody was watching cartoons, and I was watching CNBC and learning what an ETF was at that time. And so, you know, growing up, this was the only space that I really thought was where I’d work. And in terms of this profession, it was either this or be a professional baseball player. And that kind of dream was died on the vine in high school. So this was the route that I wanted to go and went to college with a focus on, you know, coming back and working for for my from my old man’s firm. And I did just that. And we started serving individual families and started building up a book and I was fortunate to have the opportunity to start another wealth management firm that was focused on the the what we call the Henry’s or the high earners, not rich yet, or the the mass affluent segment of the market. And I learned a lot building that firm. And both of them unfortunately, are going concerns. And so I’ve you know, I’ve sat on the seat of an advisor, I’ve helped start an RA build an RA, I’m now Managing Partner over at both those firms. And then about eight years ago, we kind of dipped our toe into a technology venture that’s now evolved into what we know as a new company called Benjamin, which is a business support system. For wealth managers meaning just being really the connective tissue between all their technologies to help eliminate the menial mundane tasks that are so needed in the space but don’t need to necessarily be done by human. And so I’ve got him now made this natural evolution or maybe it’s unnatural evolution into running a technology business that’s serving this industry. I’m passionate about this space, because it’s been part of my life for the majority of it. And I think that this tech and I’m passionate about technology, and this industry is always behind the curve when it comes to technology. And so I’m now running the the day to day operations and strategic vision for our tech company Benjamin.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

Like they say you need to scratch your own itch. How did it originate that you started up a technology business?

 

Matt Reiner 

Yeah, I think naivety is probably a good starting there, right? Being very naive that we could just go build, you know, our own technology company and then kind of the natural evolution that comes from learning and iterating but you know, we had we had some specific needs, you know, we, when we first started out with the technology endeavor, it was actually meant to be a direct to consumer application. So just an app on your phone. And we were trying to solve at that time a problem or a challenge that we were faced with within our newer RA and trying to build up our pipeline of prospects. And so we’re trying to leverage technology to help build the pipeline to prospects, and also to streamline some of the efficiencies of onboarding them to allow us to continue to build up the pool of people we could serve. And we learned a lot from them, we did a great job on that, because we didn’t have enough capital to really kind of promote it the way that needed to be. But we built a lot of amazing technology. And then the natural, the evolution of that of Benjamin really came from, you know, we knew that we had to close down to direct to consumer application, we didn’t have enough capital to continue to fund it. But we said, How can we use this technology and our other, our other major ra was running into some challenges around scalability and onboarding. And also just personnel, right, we were having to expand our number of people on our team really drastically. And we wanted to kind of slow that down without losing White Glove service that we were so good at, and also allowing us to continue to grow like we were. And so we took that technology, and we fit it in and bolted it to solve a specific problem around onboarding and the entire onboarding process of getting getting the paperwork, started getting the paperwork back in any accounts open getting the concentrated. And, you know, we implemented it, and we built towards that. And we solved a major challenge for that firm. And the individual saw an uptick and great uptick in capacity. We saw a great uptick in client experience. And we saw our profit margins also seeing a slight uptick as well. And at that point, we said, well, we have something here. And we started talking to our peers in the space. And we then started to expand out into other avenues of the entire client relationship from there. So you know, we learned from each step of the way, and then we iterated and we solved a niche that we needed within our own firm before we’d launched it as an enterprise solution. But today now we’re an enterprise solution serving nearly 50 other firms across the country.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

I think that you see it so often those reports talking about capacity of the advisor to take on more clients and actually service their clients at scale. have you managed to bridge that?

 

Matt Reiner 

Yeah, I mean, I think that there’s the the biggest challenge with that, right is that this is a service based business. And, you know, the biggest key or the key component of this service is us as a human. And we’re limited in capacity, right, we have a limited number of hours a day you week, there is nothing that’s going to ever allow us to create more hours in the day. But that 24 is the mouth. And we got to figure out how to work within that. And so what we found is that a lot of what we do day in and day out in our business is menial, mundane, repeatable repetitive tasks. And the reason and we analyze that both internally and with other businesses. And the reason that those are there is because we’re having to go through multiple systems to follow a process to complete just one task within that process. And when you start to build that on top of each other for a growing firm, or even a firm, that’s a kind of a lifestyle firm, it becomes burdensome. And because our end because our our time is limited, we got to figure out how to create time, get time back within that block. And the only way to do that is to eliminate some of those tasks. And so we said how can what are the tasks that we can eliminate? What’s the burden or the barrier to eliminating those, let’s start chipping away at those barriers to start giving people time back. And then they can now start getting better utilization out of the eight hours of their day, as opposed to having to spend two hours doing these other things, we can give them two more hours, that scale right there, right and that and that’s the ultimate goal of what we’re trying to that’s a 25% uptick that we’re trying to focus on. And that’s our whole focus as a firm, we’re not trying to replace any technologies that are out there. We’re trying to figure out how to better utilize use those better utilize our processes to get back a few minutes every day, because that starts to compound and provide us scale that is so so needed in the space.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

So Matt, are you saying that, you know, switching between these different applications is actually what’s costing us so much time? Because we’re moving into something new, and then you have to get used to that layout and where the data is and going through that process?

 

Matt Reiner 

Yeah, I think that so the the example that I tend to use, right, and I and because when you talk about it with firms, it’s like, well, it’s really I know where everything is like I understand the system really well. It’s not that big of a problem to me, like but but the thing is, is we say that because we’re so customed to it, and we know it really well. And so the example I use is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, right? That’s something we can all relate to. If I asked five people how to make a peanut butter jelly sandwich, I’m gonna get five different answers and most of the answers are going to be like, you get the bread, you get the peanut butter, you get the jelly, put it on the bread, put it on top and cut it in half and there you go. You gotta burn Jason. But it’s because we know we are so accustomed to knowing how to make blueberry jelly that it’s just ingrained That we’ve, we’ve, we haven’t realized that that just doing that would only take like a second. But there’s so many steps in between that you have to go open the pantry door, pull it out, open it up, get the knife, wipe the knife off, spread on the peanut butter spread on the jelly, put the bread back, open the fridge, there’s there’s over, I’ve documented it, it’s about 50 plus steps that it takes. And, and so doing it once is probably not a challenge, right? It doesn’t take that much time. But if you want to do it 100 times or 200 times, then in order for you to do them more effectively and more efficiently and less time, you have to start eliminating some of those tasks in between, right? How can we make the peanut butter just be on the on the table at all times? Right? How do we not have to open it? And how do we start eliminating those tasks. And that’s what our focus is right? And if we and it’s so it’s not necessarily just the bouncing around? That is a problem. Because you have so many different systems and they don’t really truly talk to each other. Right? They all say that integrate, but the data that I really need is not in there, because we’re only pulling in certain pieces of data. And it’s constrained. And that’s a problem. And so I always look at like the simplest process that we have, as a firm like scheduling meetings, right? Everybody has to do it. Whether you’re growing firm or not lifestyle or focus growth firm doesn’t matter, your scheduling means everybody’s doing it. And everyone’s like, well, it doesn’t take me that long, I just send the email out, okay, but you have to draft the email, you have to get your calendly link, you have to put it in the email, you have to update your CRM, you then have to respond back to the email, you then have to then set up a workflow in your CRM to do the mean process, right, there’s like 10 steps. And if we’re doing that 100 times a quarter, that’s a lot. And so if you can cut out five of those steps, where it only takes 50% of the time, that’s a lot of time given back, even though you’re not thinking about it, because you know how to do it so quickly to get you’ve done it so much. That doesn’t mean that it’s the right way of doing right when you need to figure out how to scale when you’re in a limited scope, you have to look really innately intricately at every step in order to make sure that you can create scale in the process,

 

Louis van der Merwe 

just like you would optimize an investment portfolio, you want to optimize the tasks that you and your team are doing. And also, you know, bringing in new hires, we’ve experienced that thing. Okay, this is how we do it. But is this really does everyone do it the same way? And is it well documented?

 

Matt Reiner 

So the example I use is I, you know, a firm I’m really close with, they recently went through a CRM transition, right, they transition from a CRM that they’ve been using for 10 plus years, over to a brand new CRM. In a perfect world, it sounds so great, right? That, you know, we’re going to do it, it seems so simple, just move the data from here to here and replicate my processes. And what happened was, is when they moved over, because of how the technology is built, it’s different, right? And so process is in the ways that you accomplish tasks is different. Over on this side, and, and that threw everybody for a loop and it caused chaos. And it’s because we get just so comfortable with the way that it is. But the way that it is doesn’t mean it’s the best way it should be. It’s just that we don’t like to do change, we just get we just stay with it. And, and over time, that firm is going to excel and be a better firm because of that switch. But that you know, period of time, call it three months, six months, 12 months, whatever it is of change, and uncomfortableness is not fun. And too often we just like I don’t need to do it. But if you really want to get better, you have to go through those tough changes in the moment. And too much in this industry. We’ve kind of just said, Let’s not rock the boat. We’re just gonna stay this way. You know, it, it’s worked. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, as they say here, right? But ain’t broke, don’t fix it. So yeah, this is how we onboard people. It’s not the best way, but we’re just gonna do it because it’s worked for everybody else before it. That doesn’t mean that it’s the right way. And it gets you to where you want to be as a firm.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

Yeah, as opposed to that constant evolution. I want to talk a little bit about experience versus efficiency, and is a new report called New Frontiers. That speaks about you know, prioritizing efficiency in a financial planning firm in a business where you see this kind of wave of practices, building their own software versus buying industry leaders software, what’s what’s your take on that?

 

Matt Reiner 

I so I am a I’m a I run a software company. So you got to understand that from a bias if we if we want to be we’re on a financial podcast. So yeah, give disclaimers, right? So here’s the thing. I think that where we’re getting to, and I think it’s a really exciting time in this space, right, where that type of study and that type of mentality is is starting to bubble up in our space, because it shows that people are thinking, how to business size and taking control and wanting to innovate on their own. And that’s been a that’s really, really exciting for the space. And I think that that’s a great mentality shift. If you look back 10 years that was not even on anybody’s radar. Now, it’s like, well, let’s just go build our own technology. Right. And I think that that’s an amazing ship. From my lessons of building technology, right? We’ve been in this for eight years, we started as a different a whole different type of technology. But it’s tough, right? And it’s hard and it’s If it wasn’t everybody would be doing it and not everybody’s doing it. So you’ve got to be careful and cognizant of what your core competency is and what your core competency is not. But what I think is a benefit that comes out of this is that it we as an industry need to push as a financial adviser wealth management industry need to push software companies to build software with us in mind, as opposed to them in mind. Meaning the software companies and I that, you know, yes, I’m biased, but that’s why I think I take so much pride in of what we do at Benjamin is that we take the advisor in mind at all times, and we’re trying to solve their specific problems, as opposed to solving a problem that we want to solve that we think the industry needs to adopt. And I think that the reason that this whole thing is bubbling up is because software companies are are building technology to drive you to have to use their software. Integration is not true integration integration is you can view a few things. But it’s not the things that you want. And it’s very just inside of a box, because that’s what you need to be able to build software. And so I think that what this should lead to is a stronger, more detailed focus on fully, deeply integrating, building out robust API’s, and encouraging other technology companies to solve these problems using API’s from other providers and working together to solve that without having the metric be How many times are people coming into my software? But rather, how many tough challenges am I actually solving? Using our data, our technology and others data? And how many are we solving for that specific advisor? So, you know, I think it’s a really great shift in mentality, I think it’s a really, you know, I would never discourage people from going and trying to build their technology, I think it’s just a, it’s a, it’s an expensive investment, both from a monetary standpoint and a time standpoint. And the beauty of what we’ve had in this innovation over the past 10 years in our industry is that you have a lot of technology providers that want to partner and that you can have more of a say on because they’re still not fully established, like the Salesforce is of the world that you can influence some of their roadmap if you get involved with them early on. And that may be a better route than building it yourself.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

Yeah, I think it’s such an important point. We had Brendan Frasier on the podcast talking about human centered advice. And would you saying that the SOP equally, software providers should be advisor focused when they start building this up. But then you have these like, no code or low code platforms like notion or bow do that you can do a lot of this yourself without having to build a software business. Do you think that’s a trap? No.

 

Matt Reiner 

So I think that in to your point about, you know, like the human centricity of it, right? One of our core values is be human centric. And everybody’s like, well, you’re a tech company, why are you saying be human centric, you’re building technology. And it’s because we are building technology to allow firms and our clients to have more and deeper and more meaningful human to human interaction. We’re not building technology to replace humans, we’re building technology of make humans better at being human with other humans. And that’s something that is so important, I think, as opposed to as building technology to try to replace people. We’re trying to build technology to, to work in parallel with people. And that is the biggest thing. And I think that that’s where technology’s had such a difficult time in this industry, because we’ve tried to say, well, they’re the human could be replaced in some ways. And I say that that’s completely wrong and untrue, because the human is the most important aspect of this industry. And technology should work with them and not against them. And so, and I think that the no code, the the loco noco thing, I think that that’s an amazing route that we’re going and that’s, you know, it gives power, it gives flexibility, it gives an opportunity for firms to understand technology from a different perspective, without having to make that drastic investment. And, you know, that’s one of the ways that we continued that I push our team on is saying, How can we make this as simple for our teams as possible that use Benjamin, how we want to give them the flexibility, right, we don’t want to build a solution that can do everything in anything. But we want to give them the controls the kind of tweak it and fine tune it, to make it work for them. Without just saying, Hey, you got to fit in this box and go and low code, no code type solutions allow for that. And that’s what we strive for on a product side with our technology is making it simple for them to use and give them as much flexibility as possible for them to have within the platform.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

I’m starting to see how these pieces fit together. You know, with Benjamin, smoothing out the process, you might end up saying, Oh, I don’t need one system that does everything because there is the search for the holy grail, that if I can just want find one system to take all my financial planning needs, and we see a lot of firms trying to commit everything into one Being very disappointed with the outcome of that?

 

Matt Reiner 

Well, I mean, I think it’s just natural. I mean, I think it’s natural for us to just know I mean, you can be, you can be good at a lot of things are great at one thing, right? And are great a few, right. And, you know, it’s hard to be great at everything, it just really is. And I think that an all in one solution, you know, it’s going to work for some people, and it’s not going to work for others. The the challenge that that is there is that you can’t really be great at every aspect of if you’re trying to be a CRM and portfolio management system, a custodian document management system, he says, it’s just, that’s a lot. And so our approach that we’ve always taken is, you know, these other programs are 10x better at doing it than we could ever be at right portfolio management, you know, Orion adipower, blackdiamond, they’re 10x better at portfolio management than we will ever be, and why do we want to compete with them on that, right? Let them do it. But let’s help Let’s help our teams get more out of those software’s that they may not be able to get, because they don’t know, or it’s too time consuming or whatever, let’s utilize API’s and use the information that is generated from those systems and what they do really well to fit into an ecosystem to allow firms to use that data in different ways with data from their CRM, right, we don’t want to be a CRM, they do great things within there. And, you know, we made a decision, you know, a little while ago, right, you know, calendly, calendly, schedules, meetings, 10x better than anybody, right? They just are really good. That’s all they focus on. So why don’t we just but there’s still you still, there’s processes within the county that using the calendar link that still need help that fit more of what we do in our business as wealth managers that they don’t solve for, because they don’t want to solve for that. So how do we then use what they have built, and they have a great solution to help advisors in their processes that they had their specific to them. And that’s the whole vision of what we want to be as Benjamin is be that connective tissue that brings everything together. And I call it pra you, Paul, you organize and you act, but we don’t want to be we want to pull, organize and act on the other systems data to make it better and to be that true digital assistant. And it’s in, you know, the other example that I tend to use is the Intel chip inside, right? Everybody remembers the Intel Inside commercials. You know, if you were to go ask the Intel chip, what how does Intel chip work? It can be really hard. But all you do see is you open the computer and your computer screen works. That’s what Benjamin’s meant to be. I think that that’s how technology needs to think about it. How can we power, you know, the firm as opposed to kind of try to be everything? to everybody that’s just really hard to solve? Maybe someone solves it, and I give them props for being able to do it. But I’m sure there’s going to be some downfalls that firms aren’t going to like about it.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

Yeah, it’s unlikely to get that right, as opposed to focusing and honing your efforts and your skills. I’m wondering what is the number one reason why firms fail to implement new technologies like Benjamin? Like, what is that pushback that you’re seeing?

 

Matt Reiner 

Yeah, I would, I would say let’s separate it. Because I think that we, I noticed that when I was inside the firm, let’s talk about why think firms fail at adopting technology. And then and then what I’ve learned from that, is, I think that there’s too many, right, we have to always, you know, adopted new technologies, you have to learn it, you have to login to it, you have to have another username and password. And then you have to remember when do I go to that technology versus going to another technology? Right? Okay, so I just did this. So I go to the CRM, do I go Portfolio Manager system, do I go to my email Do I go to, you know, my planning software, whatever it is, you have to remember that and, and the thing is, is that we have we’re in silos, and everybody has their own processes that they go through in using technology. But then each vertical within a firm, Ops, admin advisors, etc, have different goals and desires of what they want to pull out of each technology. Right? as an advisor, I want to pull one thing out of the custodian, whereas the CSA wants to pull something else. Same with the CRM, same with everything. And so it’s really difficult right to help everybody understand it, because the people that are leading the charge come from one perspective, and they’re trying to solve it for everybody. And so adoption just becomes a little bit lower, because I have to remember what to do. I have to remember the password, all that stuff. And I think that that’s the major challenge in our space, right? All we want to do is go and serve people to have to remember how to go about which which system to go into, it makes it a lot more difficult. And the more that you add in, the more difficult it becomes. Because the more people you have to train, the more things that you have to remember on. So I think that that’s the major challenge. And so you know, how I view that is like, Okay, well, how do you build a system to where I don’t have to log in to a particular system, but I can continue to just log into what I already have, right? How can I get better out of that. And that’s, you know, that’s what we focused on, because we saw that our adoption was low technology, because you had to log into and so one of the first things that we did at Benjamin was say you don’t have there’s only one person that ever has to log into Benjamin inside your firm. Everybody else lives in the other technologies. And you never have to have a username or password to log into Benjamin to get the power. out of him. And that to us was saying, we’re going to make adoption very high and very easy. And we’re also going to now help you get better adoption out these other technologies as well, hopefully, because they’re just focused on those. And, and so I think that the need of a new technology in need of learning a new technology in need of new passwords and usernames, I mean, that’s there’s only so much that we care to learn the key, and it doesn’t stick with our core part of what our businesses which is talking to people.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

Yeah, it sounds like the team within the business is getting lost on that roadmap, saying, like, Where do I need to go to service this client optimally? And for my role, and, you know, what comes to mind is that we’re not hiring software developers, we are hiring people, typically, with a finance background, or typically with relationship background, that’s the to service client, yet, they’re getting stuck behind these tools. And it’s become a requirement to actually do your job to do that. Just like, you know, 10 years ago, it was Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel. Now, it’s the list of software tools that you use. Can we talk a little bit about the actual details of of how Benjamin works and how it’s linked? And, you know, is it something that a firm in South Africa could actually utilize if we use the same technology pieces, like wealth box and calendly, for instance?

 

Matt Reiner 

Yeah, so yeah, I mean, so what Benjamin hinges on is the integrations with technology. So right now we have about 15 integrations of the core tech stack, right, we look at the core tech stack right now. CRM portfolio management system, custodians, calendaring system. And then we have DocuSign, and some, some other ones in plant financial planning that’s coming towards the end of the year, in early next year. And so what our goal is, is to integrate with them, right? So what I said is pra, right, we integrate into all those systems. On behalf of all the people that are there, they have to authorize it, then we pull in all the data. So every piece of data that you have in your CRM pulls in, and then we organize it, which means just unify it right, we unified so that all the different pieces of data for Matt Reiner’s household is all signed them out. Reiner we’re not creating five Matt Ryan’s because we have five different integrations. And then we allow that data, it’s all built on, you know, natural language processing and robotic process automation, you now can use that data, whether it’s household data, contact data, task, data, event data doesn’t matter, to drive action by Benjamin. So let’s talk about the simplest one, right, a flyover of the simplest one that we can all relate to scheduled meetings, as I was alluding to earlier, is how the process goes today is that you usually have a recurring task for your annual review meetings that comes up and it means that you need to go then go skip, go reach out to the client to get it scheduled. And then when you complete that, it starts the next step part of the process for meeting prep. And then you have your meeting and you put your notes in and then to dues, right that’s kind of like really high level. But the idea of scheduling the meeting, so someone has to do it, right, even if you have calendly stuff to go and email, the client, everything of that nature. So now with Benjamin just on that one simple task, because Benjamin has everything unified. He knows who the user who the advisor is, he knows who the contact is, he knows who to who to contact and how to contact email, text, whatever it may be. And Benjamin takes it off the plate. And he’s the one that goes and communicates with the client using the callin link to get everything scheduled, and then can complete the task in the CRM to move the process forward. So you now just eliminated that small piece of making the peanut butter and jelly sandwich if I go back to my last reference out of the equation, but he’s using all the different data points, and all the different systems to help with that one simple task and he can do over, you know, it’s growing every day. But over 100 plus tasks, we call them missions that he accomplishes. But 100, he can do over 100 different tasks. Already,

 

Louis van der Merwe 

I think this version, this one version of the truth is a piece that’s often missed in most businesses, because you have these, like different pieces of information all across the board. And you don’t know what’s the most recent and where do you update and how do you access it. And what this is saying it’s like Benjamin’s pulling all the pieces together. And you can set up the integrations and you can set up the tasks and the parameters around that. I’m wondering what that first response is when it when a financial adviser actually sees this in action and realizes Hey, it’s just saved. No, so much time

 

Matt Reiner 

relief. relief, right. It’s really it’s really that’s what it is, is that you know, I’ve taken some it, it’s like it is for any human right when you take something off my plate, right when something is taken off my plate, whether it’s because I accomplished it, I checked it off, or that I’ve been able to delegate it effectively to someone else. I feel a little bit less weight on my shoulders, right and I can now go and think more creatively, innovatively, I can better serve and do what I meant to do. And that’s what they see. Right and, and there’s and we show an ROI on it right we but from a, that’s a that’s the, you know, metric driven way. But the the feeling emotional side is relief and, and as they start seeing the ROI of it, they start to believe more in it. And our goal is to continue to hopefully have them entrust Benjamin on on being delegated to more tasks for them over time.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

So Matt, what does Benjamin look like five years from now, when it’s when it’s evolved? Like, what is that vision that you have in mind?

 

Matt Reiner 

Yeah, I mean, there is so much, you know, space for us to evolve as a business. And I think that what we’re doing today is only the beginning, but it adds a lot of value, right? And we’re providing best practices, we’re allowing Benjamin to execute on data. But we’re also learning a lot. And we’re learning on the processes and how people interact both internally and externally, in certain situations, and what are the biggest questions? What are the biggest concerns and what firms run the best and are able to have the most, you know, clients who advisor and see their margins grow, we’re learning a lot of this stuff. And, you know, the next iteration or evolution of Benjamin really is around taking the those data points and being able to as opposed to you having to train Benjamin, being able to have Benjamin so we’re, we call that we’re in the training stage, we want to move into the stage where Benjamin is proactively recommending best practices based on analysis of what you’re doing inside of your firm your clientele, and how that relates to other firms and other clientele that look similar in providing that to where you then just become the approver, you never have to log into Benjamin, if we can get to a point where nobody ever has log into Benjamin, and you just say yes, do that, or No, don’t do that. And then Benji is able to go and start acting, that’s the next stage of it. And then we do have a natural desire, because of how connected this industry is from a whole financial holistic financial planning aspect, which is where we need to go as an industry has become more and more built into a holistic financial planning deep financial planning firms, we do have a desire to continue to bring in more of those other service providers that are needed to help with the financial planning, like a state attorneys like accounting, like insurance, and having Benjamin be the central hub to help the coordination efforts to really enhance the client experience across the whole financial plan. And also to enable the advisor, the client to be able to act on and follow through on things more effectively and easily, which then make the advisor better and makes all these other firms better. And so that’s the natural evolution that we see. And yeah, we hope to be there in five years. And with the help of our partners and our clients and our investors and all those types of people, I think we will,

 

Louis van der Merwe 

that sounds super exciting. And we sitting with tons of data of our clients, yet we use so little of it, you know, we have their hopes and their dreams and their desires. And what strikes me often looking at practices and talking to people is that we actually don’t use that, you know, in the way we communicate to the way we know, we put out our strategies with our clients. Is that something that started to change?

 

Matt Reiner 

Yeah, I smile, and whether it’s something that I talk about a lot on, on my videos that I put post out, and a lot of the blogs that I write is, we are an industry that has more data than any other space out there. And everybody’s like, no, Matt, there’s no way you know, Facebook, and Amazon and Google have much more data than not, I say, they may have more, more amounts. But we have more data points on our clients than any of these other systems ever have, right to your point, hopes, desires, fears, worries, concerns, we know when clients are going to get divorced before they even know they’re going to get divorced, or we know where their spouse knows that they’re going to get divorced, because we’re helping them think through that process. We have more data points on it. And I’ve talked a lot about the idea of the Facebook and Netflix effect on a lot of my posts lately. And you know, the Facebook effect is something that has been talked about in 2010. Right, when Facebook was really getting hot, and advisors like no, I don’t need to worry about that. And they were right, because you know, less than 20% of their clients. And I call their clients the core demographic of 55 and older was using Facebook. But if you switch to now 2019 2020, you have more than 55% of that age demographic using Facebook and nearly 40% of them using Netflix. And why does this even matter? It’s because Netflix and Facebook use the data points that they have really effectively to create engaging content that’s directed and relatable and personable to the specific person that keeps them scrolling and engaged, whether it’s right or wrong, that they keep people engaged in focus, and they’re delivering them stuff that they care about. And that’s important. And then on the Netflix side, they’re using all this data to you know, I’m sitting there on a Friday night with my wife and I don’t know what to watch. Netflix is telling me what to watch. Yet as financial advisors we have we are a very reactive industry, despite having all this data to where we should be very proactive in nature because of all the information that we know. And that drives them from a psychological standpoint and from a behavioral standpoint and from an investment standpoint that we should be using. Using these data points to trigger when we should be communicating with them to where we catch them in the moment to help them make better decisions. And I think that that is something that this industry is going to continue to get better at, there’s companies out there that are doing a good job of it, we want to be part of that conversation over time as well. But that is where this industry needs to go. Because as advisors, we need to be using the data not to do something and promote different products for our clients, but to better serve our clients and be more proactive, and be a better service provider with more value to our clients leveraging that data. And that’s the name of the game. And that is I do believe where we’re going to go and the firm’s that do that really well. And it starts with consuming the data organizing the data, the firms that do that really well, they’re going to have massive success, and their clients are going to have, you know, beyond I mean, a measurable satisfaction, right? It’s going to be off the charts satisfaction that they’re going to have. And they’re going to accomplish a lot of financial goals, I believe if we can get to that point,

 

Louis van der Merwe 

I can see how passionate you are about this. And it’s great to hear that I think this is what’s pushing the industry forward. So mad for someone thinking that, you know, the tools are going to use this data, but at some point A still need to capture it and organize it. So someone in a practice, like what are the key data points that you would say they should be looking at and focusing on to make sure that’s captured correctly and accurately in a system to be used in the future.

 

Matt Reiner 

So I mean, we got to take a step back and just start simple, you got to build the architecture with us using systems like wealth box, and like the CRM is out there that are really great, and have their teams help you structure it to where you can actually consume that data and organize it in those systems. Those systems are powerful to help you organize that, right? It’s creating the foundation for how do you organize it, and making sure that you have the process, whether it’s within regards to you know, your prospecting workflow in the data gathering form, and getting some of those data points in there and then having to populate into the CRM, or if it’s in your client information sheets, or you’re questioning that you do within your meetings, you have to have a standard process to get that data so that you get it consistently amongst everybody. So then you can start acting on it. And you know, I look at it in, you know, you have some of the qualitative, or the metric driven numbers like, you know, their age, their desired retirement age, their what is their net worth, that they need to retire on, what’s their net worth today, their earnings, all that type of stuff, those are kind of the the table stakes, I think that you start elevating the game, when you start to understand, you know, hobbies, right? That’s an elevation of the game hobbies, kids desires, all those that number of kids, you know, what their kids like to do, where where their kids go to school, then you get into the, you know, what is their profession, you know, what were their parents professions, those type of things, but then you take another step up, when you really get into the psychological aspect of it. Right. And you had these standard questions. How do they in riskalyze is a company that does a great job of understanding risk and doing measures that way? But I think it even goes beyond that. Right? You know, are they are they a needy client? Are they a hands off client? Are they a do they call you talking about headlines, they not call you about talking about headlines, right starting to get some of those types of data points from behavioral psychological standpoint, will really dry because I think we are always so much on the metric oriented side of it, where we just look at a US revenue per client age and that type of stuff that we need to, we need to get to a point where we pair that with, you know, non metric oriented, the data points to really get insight that can be leveraged on, you know, my very worried clients that the market goes down 6%, I probably should send them an email quicker than my hands off client. So I know I need to invest time into these people, as opposed to investing time into everybody, which goes back and kind of brings the conversation full circle, to not trying to be one thing for everybody, but really understanding how you’d be great for certain people. And I think that this is how you can do it at scale.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

You don’t have to worry about that email, because Benjamin Benjamin has already sent out the mail and scheduled the call to have that with the client 100% integration piece that you talk about, you know, pulling data from all these assessments that we’re doing and organizing it and keeping in one place. Like you said, it sounds simple, but actually, that’s a key role within a business. Like what’s the best place in the business to put that responsibility? Should it be at the top? Should it be the, you know, the people driving the business? Or should it be a separate role within the business? What have you found work? Well?

 

Matt Reiner 

Yeah, well, I mean, I’ve seen some of the most successful firms out there actually have one person that’s focused on you know, you know, data management and project project management, to get, you know, processes in place to help with it and they they’ve moved through the whole process and the project themselves. I think that that’s an amazing way of doing it. I don’t think that that’s the, you know, I think that’s a little bit overkill, but I think it’s great and it’s been really, really successful. I think it lives in the people that talk with the clients the most and and to me, you know, the advisor is is really a key point but but their focus is also on, they have to strategize on the plan, build the plan out, ensure the plan is, is tweaking and everything of that nature. And I think that you’re the CSA is making sure that it’s operationally run day in and day out. And a lot of the analysis happens on the adviser side, whereas the operational communications stuff happens on the CSA operation side. And so I really think that it happens where you connect with the client the most, which happens to be in operations and CSA. And I think that that’s where the role, and the processes need to be in place where they can gather a lot of that information, if training properly, and you have standardization and processes in place. I think that that’s the kind of the role that I’ve seen be really successful, if you don’t have a full time person, just focus on data and process management automation in your firm.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

So CSA being that client service associate that right, exactly, exactly using that within the business and saying, Okay, how do we free up some of your time so that you can go out? And you know, some of the terms like surprise and delight to clients and actually get to spend time on things that has got a greater payoff in terms of just doing low level administration work that okay,

 

Matt Reiner 

how do we elevate you to more sophisticated work, right? How do we and allow you to communicate and build relationships with people, right, and how can we get our operations team as opposed to just processing right, which is such an old school way of doing things? How can we help our teams, you know, build relationships and have conversations and call their clients on on their anniversary and say, Hey, Happy anniversary? What are y’all doing? That conversation right? There gives me a data point, right? Because I say How are you doing? They’re great. Okay. Yeah, you What are y’all doing for your anniversary? Oh, it’s our 50th anniversary. Oh, okay. So now I know that they’re celebrating the 50. So now I know going forward, what year it’s going to be? Where are y’all gonna go? We’re going on this trip. We love Italy. Oh, all right. Now I understood something. And so I’m able to build this, this data set, if I understand what data points are really relevant in these conversations without the client, ever knowing which they should never know, it should just be out of the out of the kindness of you want to serve your clients, but you’re also ensuring that you’re helping to serve them in a unique way going forward based on that conversation. So it’s, it’s really killing two birds with one stone.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

So Matt thing, do we retrain the people in our business to get a different role? Or do we just free up their time and kind of handle? How do we handle the human element of that that might not have the necessary skills? Yeah,

 

Matt Reiner 

it depends, right? It depends on what their desires are, right? And this gets into people management, right? We’ve always said, Well, this is what you do. This is the role that it is. And I think that it has to be a lot more connective. And some people are gonna say, you know what, I really don’t want to do that. And that’s okay. And so let’s go find the right seat on the bus for you, in your role of doing that, but I think that there’s gonna be a lot of people that are like, yes, this sounds great. And their, their role is going to evolve, right? Yeah, you’re going to be doing operations, but we’re going to free up time for you to scale you to where you’re doing 50%, operations and 50% of communicating with clients, and you’re not going to serve them as the advisor necessarily, but you’re going to meet them and be their friend and understand them. And there’s something powerful in that. And so, you know, there’s not like a one way fits all. But I do think that no matter what it is, everybody’s probably has a desire of what they want to do. And we have to find a way to free up their time, whether it’s to communicate with people or to do one specific task more often, we have to find ways to free up all the other things to allow them to focus on what they desire to make it as a valuable, and, you know, valuable, a job that’s satisfying to them.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

There’s a lot of work that Gallup has done round, you know, being able to give someone the time and space to focus on their core strengths. And what you’re saying is that free them up and give them, you know, the place to shine in the things that they enjoy naturally and shine that naturally.

 

Matt Reiner 

Exactly, that’s 100%. Right. And that then makes you a more desirable workplace, you get more out of your team. It helps everybody involved clients, team members, owners, etc, across the board

 

Louis van der Merwe 

met. So then looking at all this technology. And if you were in a position to hire a financial planner or advisor to work with you and your family, like what are the things that that are non negotiables that you would look for in a financial planner?

 

Matt Reiner 

It’s a really good question. I think that, you know, first and foremost, I need to have a human relationship, I have to have connectivity, right? I don’t, I have to have my one person that I know I’m able to talk to and that that gets in knows me at all times. I need to be able to connect with them digitally. I’m always on the go. So I need to be able to connect with them digitally. And I need to I need to know that they’re following through for me, right? I don’t I want them I don’t want to have to remember right. And I think about this, you know, with all my partners that I work with in my my financial team, personally, right, my accountant, my state attorney, and all of that, right? I don’t want to have Have to go to them with like, why don’t we do this, I want them to come to me and say, This is what we need to do, because I know your situation really well. And I, you know, I would expect that out of my wealth manager, hey, you know that I, I’ve seen what we’ve been doing, this is what I think you need to do. This is my thoughts. And I know you and your family really well. And I put a lot of thought into it. So I need that human relationship. So I can build trust and connection, I need to be able to interact digitally. And it goes beyond just the portal and email, right, I need to have, you know, this digital engagement. And then I need to have proactivity, about me specifically, right, I want someone to be thinking of me, and what’s best for me and my family, which may not be the right thing or best thing for, you know, their other family that they’re working with. And, and that comes from a depth of knowing what makes me and my family tick and, and what our goals and objectives are and how we want to get there.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

It sounds like having that structured data and being able to, to mine that and say, Hey, Matt, we’ve looked at your portfolio, we’ve looked at this piece, and we think this is really relevant and suitable for the phase that you’re going through now is, is key. And it’s something that, you know, we’re not seeing that much in the industry at the moment. But hopefully, that’ll be changing as we get used to the services and providers giving us that amazing experience, because it’s the bar is not super high at the moment. And I’m wondering kind of when’s that bar lifting?

 

Matt Reiner 

No, I mean, I think it there’s a few aspects of it, right? It’s a mentality shift, which we alluded to that’s happening in our space. And I think that that’s phenomenal. I think that there’s a lot of innovation, which is going to spur and trigger people to change, right? This innovation that’s happening over the past 10 years, in my mind was spurred by robo advisors, it scared the living bejesus out of a lot of people. And they said they got to make some changes. And it also showed that there’s opportunity here, right. And so the cause a lot of innovation, a lot of the greatest companies that have been built last 10 years game, you know, a lot of most innovative companies that we see in our space have come in the last 10 years. And I think it’s phenomenal. But I think it also comes to an acceptance of the industry, from a regulation standpoint, and from the behemoths that control the industry to open up their their, their, their kind of their doors to allow for innovation from others as opposed to trying to own it, right, we’ve been an industry that’s always been like, this is my data, this is all of ours, we’re not going to allow anybody to tap into it, because we want to control it, we have to believe that it starts from the top. And I think that there’s some firms that are doing a really great job of it now open up their API’s and open up their access points and invest a lot of money in that. And I think we have to continue that. And then I think it’s going to come from a regulation side, this is a highly regulated industry. And I think rightfully so, right. I mean, we’re dealing with some precious cargo with with people’s life savings. But from a regulatory standpoint, we have to I think, like what they’ve done with the marketing rules here in the states is, you know, the advertising rules and the changes they made, you know, those things weren’t changed, the last time they were updated was in the 80s, as before the internet, right. And so for us to still be living abiding by those rules is is somewhat silly. And I understand that we have a lot of balances. So, you know, I think that regulation has to stay up with the times and give and help to spur innovation, because regulation tends to stifle it. And we but we have to find that balance. And it’s hard, right, you’re gonna go all the way to one side of the pendulum and saying cause issues and you go to the other side that causes issues and finding equilibrium. I’m not saying it’s easy. But we as an industry have to continue to push for trying to find that equilibrium to spur innovation, because it’s for the betterment of the client over time.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

You know, we’re seeing that regulatory push within South Africa, we think it’s it’s reached an extreme where a lot of people are saying, Hey, this is hindering our business. And it means that we have to get out of the industry, specifically if you’re getting closer to the end of of your career. But what that’s also allowed is a massive wave of opportunity, where younger advisors can step in and say, hey, let’s let’s build this into a proper business, or let’s use compliance to build a better business. So there’s the I guess there’s two sides to the same dilemma.

 

Matt Reiner 

Yeah, I think that it’s, I think it’s a little bit of everything, right? And I think our industry’s mentality and Industry Focus needs to evolve. And it is, and I think that we’ve made like, we gotta just take a step back, right? In the past 10 years, this industry has made amazing strides. I think, and I’ve talked about it often. This is if you want to start out a career, in an industry where you can have an impact and be on the leading edge of something really exciting. There is no better industry than our industry today. Because we have motivation to make changes. There’s a ton of innovation, and you still have an ability to have a say, within those firms and you have an ability to have a huge impact and there’s no better space for us to get into because I think that the tide is starting to change. And it’s for the betterment of being innovative and forward thinking which is all going to be better for the client longer term and for the business And so I think that it’s happening, we have to take a step back as much as there’s challenges, we have to also realize how great we’ve done over the past 10 years. And it gives me a ton of, you know, encouragement inspiration for where we’re going to be in 10 years from today.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

Matt, that is such a great message. And I think that’s a brilliant place for us to end this conversation. If people want to get hold of you want to reach out and have a discussion, what’s the best place to find you?

 

Matt Reiner 

Yeah, you know, how are we connected, right? You can go to LinkedIn. I’m always on LinkedIn. I’m on Twitter at Matt Reiner. You can go to Matt Reiner calm. We’re about to launch a brand new website there. A new book is going to be coming out in August as well. You know, please ping me if you’d want a copy. I’m happy to send one to you. And you know, Benjamin’s websites get Benjamin calm. So you know, go there. Go to Matt Reiner comm Find me on all the social networks on YouTube, LinkedIn and Twitter. And that’s where the best place to find me.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

Thank you so much for coming in today, Matt, and I look forward to having you and all the best with Benjamin.

 

Matt Reiner 

Thank you so much. I appreciate it. It was a ton of fun. Always love talking about this.

 

Louis van der Merwe 

Yeah, cheers.

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