How new offering helps advisors hone their craft

Financial planning company facilitates groups – often cross-border – where professionals can share insights and resources

How new offering helps advisors hone their craft

For a notoriously competitive industry in which advisors are protective of their “secret sauce”, Planswell has launched a fresh way for professionals to lean on each other’s knowledge and experience.

The financial planning engine offers actionable financial plans in under three minutes and also partners with advisors to connect them with consumers who not only have financial questions but are also prospective long-term clients.

To arm advisors with additional skills, Planswell has launched Plancraft – an exclusive partner platform for advisors that allows them to connect with their peers and work in tandem on complex planning challenges. The aim is that by pooling open-minded talent, advisors can offer each other insights, solutions and resource recommendations that address the highs and lows of the profession.

Each advisor works directly with a professional facilitator and in groups of eight to 10. Plancraft is available to advisors for $199 per month. The platform also provides access to: monthly facilitated executive peer group meetings; a proprietary financial planning software with unique referral links; advisor HQ, a robust library of self-guided training content; a seven-day, risk-free core training program; exclusive webinars and workshops on trending topics in the industry; and bi-weekly office hours with coaches and company leadership.

CEO Eric Arnold told WP the idea derived from personal experience. As part of a similar group for executives, he was initially skeptical but found it valuable, so he came up with the idea of creating a similar offering for advisors. And after positive feedback, he’s hired facilitators to build it out and create groups for all 1,000 advisors on the platform.

Topics up for discussion could include human resources, regulatory issues, serving clients or, as has proved popular, business building. Arnold said: “We’ve had really senior advisors near the end of the career meet juniors, who are very tech enabled, and I was worried whether they’d connect. But they love learning from each other – it’s been fantastic.”

He added: “When I started at Wood Gundy and I was in a rookie class, there were other rookies in my office that were nice to have a lunch with but there was always like a little bit of tension because everyone's competitive. The idea is that if you could meet people that are not in your region, that are not going after the same target audiences, you may let your guard down a little bit more. It’s neat.”

It represents another step in the new, positive direction of Planswell’s second iteration, which has two-thirds of its operation in the US. Compared to the more consumer-focused, R&D heavy first iteration, this version of the company is more advisor friendly and represents a different company from the tumult of 2019 when major backers pulled the plug amid allegations of sexual harassment against a then staff member.

A social media storm ensued and Arnold shut the company down. Four months later, Arnold and two former colleagues - Scott Wetton, an original Planswell co-founder, and Craig Savolainen, a former employee - bought the brand’s intellectual property and relaunched the business under the ownership of Planswell Corp.

Arnold said: “The business model is very different - working with advisors, as opposed to trying to onboard clients directly. The [current] business, right out of the gate, has been a huge financial success, which has enabled us to grow quickly and serve a lot more people.”

Planswell builds more than 30,000 financial plans a month and has topped a total of 400,000. Having a refined and proven remote planning experience, which has been honed over the years, has proved timely during the pandemic.

Arnold added: “Outside of a pandemic, this is probably the best way to build a business. During the pandemic, it may have been one of the only ways. But things are opening up and we're still breaking records and growth throughout July.”

“We have about a quarter of the advisors placed into [Plancraft] groups so I'm just really excited to see how it plays out over the next few months.”