Wela is a financial technology company that has built a digital assistant named Benjamin™. Benjamin focuses on eliminating tasks for financial advisors and their teams in order to allow firms to scale their human personnel, while delivering a valuable and unique client experience. Benjamin is an AI assistant that integrates in with a financial advisors current technology stack, allowing advisors and their teams to gain the value of Benjamin while maintaining their current processes and workflows. Below is our recent interview with Matt Reiner, CEO at Wela:
Q: You’ve recently announced the integration of Benjamin® with financial industry CRM leader Wealthbox®; could you tell us something more?
A: We are extremely excited to partner with Wealthbox who is a firm that has become a leader in our industry and has an amazing knack for innovation. They approach the development of financial technology in an extremely innovative way. Our integration with Wealthbox allows for advisors to utlize the task functionality within Wealthbox along with create workflows and processes, but assign specific tasks for Benjamin™ to complete. Along with integrating on the task side, Benjamin™ is able to integrate with the calendar to help with scheduling for firms. Currently, advisory firms have workflows that help get annual review meetings scheduled along with nudging clients to get paperwork back for opening their accounts and funding them. Within those workflows there are multiple tasks. For instance, scheduling the review meeting, the owner of that task needs to reach out to the client via email or phone and then delay the task if they don’t get in touch. And then repeat. With Benjamin™, he is able to proactively reach out to the client via text message or email when their upcoming meeting is coming due. Within the On-Boarding workflow, Benjamin™ can be assigned the task to follow up with the client if they haven’t sent back paperwork or can alert the advisor and their team when the new account is opened and funded.
Q: Why is now the time for a technology solution like Benjamin?
A: As we all know the financial services industry has evolved over time and how financial advisors differentiate their services has also evolved. More than 20 years ago, the differentiator for firms was via investment management. Financial advisor A and B tried to differentiate based on how they invested the monies. Then over the past 10 years, advisors differentiated via holistic wealth management and doing financial planning. But now a majority of advisors are doing financial planning. The future differentiator for financial advisors is going to be how they service their clients and the experience they provide to their clients. Clients are going to require advisors to provide more service, more value and more convenience. This is going to lead to expenses for financial advisors going up. Thus, we don’t believe that there is a fee compression worry, but rather a margin compression worry. With fees staying the same (in our opinion) and expenses going up, then margins are going to be compressed. And they are compressed in an industry that is used to healthy margins. Thus, a solution like Benjamin™, a technology solution that is able to scale teams, will be a must for firms to ensure healthy margins into the future while meeting the demands of clients.
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Q: What can we expect from Wela in the future?
A: Benjamin™ is going to continue to alleviate tasks within the entire prospect / client lifecycle. Much of the pain for firms is within the on-boarding vertical and we plan to work to alleviate many of these tasks. Also, we are spending a lot of time looking into the on-going communication and meeting preparation tasks that take up a good bit of advisors time. Benjamin™ will get smarter and more expansive in the tasks that he will be able to get off of teams plates. This will be great for teams as they will be able to build stronger relationships with their current clients and more clients into the future.