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Financial Planning Reimagined With Adam Holt of Asset-Map

Adam Holt

Adam Holt is the Founder and CEO of Asset-Map, the leading advice engagement platform for financial professionals that offers financial planning reports. As a certified financial planner and financial consultant, his areas of expertise include estate and retirement planning, benefit programs for businesses, and business succession planning. His podcast, Rethink — The Financial Advisor Podcast, challenges financial professionals to evolve in the industry.

Adam considers himself both a student and a teacher, helping his clients understand the nuances of their finances.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Adam Holt shares how Asset-Map serves their clients

  • Transitioning from a financial advisor to launching a FinTech company

  • How Asset-Map is including its consumers in their experience

  • Why better customer experience generates more revenue

  • Adam talks about how building a FinTech company has humbled him

  • The impact AI has on customer experience

  • Leaders that have inspired Adam

In this episode…

Learning how to manage your money is a responsibility that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Unless you’re educated in the financial advising industry, reading and understanding financial reports can be overwhelming. So is there a way to better visualize your financial plan?

After recognizing a lack of financial literacy among his clients, Adam Holt sought out a solution to help them understand their financial plans. Rather than constructing bulky reports, he changed his tactic by sketching visual representations of his clients’ financial profiles that included their unique financial instruments. His innovative approach helped his clients interpret their assets and gave them confidence in their financial decisions.

In this episode of The Customer Wins, host Rich Walker welcomes Adam Holt, Founder and CEO of Asset-Map, to discuss his unique approach to financial advising and how he tripled his company’s revenue three years in a row. Adam talks about his transition into the FinTech industry, how building his company has humbled him, and AI’s impact on the customer experience.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Sponsor for this episode...

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At Quik!, we provide forms automation and management solutions for companies seeking to maximize their potential productivity.

Our vision is to become the leading forms automation company by making paperwork the easiest part of every transaction.

Meanwhile, our mission is to help the top firms in the financial industry raise their bottom line by streamlining the customer experience with automated, convenient solutions.

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Episode Transcript:

Intro 0:02

Welcome to The Customer Wins podcast where business leaders discuss their secrets and techniques for helping their customers succeed and in turn grow their business.

Rich Walker 0:16

Hi, I'm Rich Walker, the host of The Customer Wins where I talk to business leaders about how they help their customers win and how their focus on customer experience leads to growth. Our past guests have included David nock of Docu bass and Jerry Murphy of Arcus partners. Today I'm excited to speak with Adam Holt, CEO and founder of Asset-Map and co host of the rethink financial advice podcast. Today's episode is brought to you by Quik the leader in enterprise forums automation, when the last step to earning your clients business requires filling out paperwork. Don't ruin your relationship with a bad experience. Instead, get quick forms to make filling out forms a great experience and the easiest part of your transaction visit To get started. Now before I introduce today's guest, I want to give a big thank you to Philipp Hecker of Bento Engine for referring me to Adam, go check out their website at bento and see how they empower financial advisors to bring better advice to more families. I'm excited to introduce Adam Adam Holt is a certified financial planner and the founder and CEO of Asset-Map the leading advice engagement platform for financial professionals made popular by their digital household visualization of the same name used by many wealth managers to frame a conversation around the entire financial inventory. Asset-Map is now being used by investment insurance tax and legal professionals to accelerate advice conversation to minutes versus days for traditional financial planning. They've achieved significant scale in the US and overseas used by 1000s of professionals and have mapped over one and a half trillion dollars in financial instruments. Wow, Adam, welcome to The Customer Wins.

Adam Holt 1:49

Thank you. Thank you Rich, good to be here and spend some time with you in the family here.

Rich Walker 1:53

Yeah, thank you. Now, if you haven't heard this podcast before, I talk with business leaders about what they're doing to help their customers win, how they built and deliver great customer experience and the challenges to growing their own company. Adam, I want to understand your business a little better. How does your company help people?

Adam Holt 2:10

Sure. Well, certainly that and and I think it's been an interesting journey, as you already mentioned, because I've come from the space just like you a financial advisor. You know, I think most things that get created rich, are from necessities, right. And they commonly say that necessities are the mother of invention. And for us as a financial advisor, we were just stymied by the the 90 page reports we were delivering to clients they weren't reading. And so, you know, in a sense, we just really needed to understand what was going on in their lives. And then ask good questions is why you said that asset map is conversational in a sense, we needed to create a pictogram effectively of what was going on in people's lives. And and when we created that for ourselves, that's when we realized a whole bunch of other financial advisors had the same problem, which was, can I see what's going on on people's lives all on one page or screen, and then have an open and honest conversations. So today, what people use advisors for typically, financial professionals for legal tax wealth management, is they're basically visualizing a household on one page, collecting that data very quickly, and ultimately giving them good guidance on what they should think about following up on changing, replace, do more of, et cetera.

Rich Walker 3:21

So you're not just showing them a list of accounts. I mean, that's what you get most of the time, right?

Adam Holt 3:25

There is a there is a I would say a nerve that we hit on when we started showing people their financial lives, not just their investments and their their balance sheet, if you will, but their income sources and their insurance policies and the private equity deal they did with their cousin and the obscure assets and instruments that tend not to make the aggregation engines or typical balance sheet, if you will, when we showed it to them in a whole new way. They were forced to re evaluate it. So it turns out that looking at a complexity in a new way, like a puzzle, rearranged, forces you to ask questions. Wait, does that need to be there? Is that intentional? Why is that there? Do I really understand it? So it turns out that just looking at information differently? I think it engages a whole different level of, I think, question as well as learning. So from a financial literacy standpoint, it's just gotten people so engaged around the conversation of are we doing the right things,

Rich Walker 4:24

you know, what I love about what I've seen in your products, and I didn't ever get to use it. This you built this after I quit being a financial adviser, but when I was an advisor, I joined my mentor in his business and he had a book of business and one of the things that we came up with on the very last page of our financial plan was a show of how many accounts they had versus how many accounts they needed. Hmm, and that very nature saying look, you got three IRAs each you only need one IRA each cause him to do rollovers into the one account that we managed. And we saw our assets under management double in one year just from that and I think you've taken it to 10x the level of what I'm scribing

Adam Holt 5:00

Well, I love that you said that because there's two aspects of what we're doing that are that are really gaining a lot of steam. The first is the obvious one, when you put all of the financial instruments that you and I have, onto a single piece of paper, you might find it's actually quite cluttered. It's complex. In fact, we found that the average household has 25, financial instruments, contracts, accounts, policies, some of them they don't even know what they have. Multiple income sources are not even they don't think about but they're there. And they create mental clutter and also paper clutter, that goes in some Shredder, or basically a file that nobody looks at and, and that actually creates, we have found paralysis around clients taking action, they just accept they have three IRAs, and this person has four IRAs and an old rollover they left it. And if not, until we put it up on the screen. And we say, by the way, you know, you have four of these you don't need for it achieves the same thing you just mentioned. So very smart on that aspect. But we took it a step further. And for those people who don't have certain financial instruments, we can also overlay what your peers have that you don't have. So if we see a situation where a significant amount of resources are in one person's balance sheet, and the other party has nothing, right, typically, we tend to see a mismatch that's very obvious visual, why does this party of the household have 15 accounts? And this one doesn't? Was that intentional? Or just the product of the fact that one was really in charge of the money? Okay, all right. There's, there's opportunities and benefits there. So we can overlay using stencils. That's our product, very similar to the way that neck Netflix will tell you, other people like you watch these movies, maybe you want to go watch these movies as well. We can say, well, other people, like you have done these financial decisions, maybe you should do them as well. So we've taken the reverse of that. So if you can imagine that complexity is revealed as well as gaps are revealed.

Rich Walker 6:56

It's actually really amazing. When I think through what you've done, then because you're not just helping the adviser see the gap. I mean, all advisors are thinking, Hey, you don't have a life insurance product, let's get you on. But helping the consumer, the actual investor see, it must be so eye opening for them.

Adam Holt 7:11

Well, it takes us out of what I would say. And I say this lovingly, as a recovering financial planner. I'm still a CFP to this degree to this day. But we all know that financial planning, so it's massive adoption in the wealth management space, because it was a fantastic sales enablement process, right? When I could show a client or prospect that I'm taking them through a cogent intelligent process that's full of 800 pages of research that takes two months to do and maybe even a fee, it's building my credibility as a financial professional, to then earn that business and roll that asset over or place that insurance or, you know, fix the annuities or whatever it might be. Even in banking, we see that as well. I would even arguably see that in tax now. Because tax professionals are getting into the investment space, more fervently. And they're going to lead with financial planning. So financial planning in general, is a sales enablement process. Okay, that's our eyes, put it on the table that may piss off a lot of people. But the bottom line is that that's how it's been used. We found that by by forcing the education upfront to show people we listened to them. Let me reveal back to what you told me. This is all the complexity you're dealing with. Now, let me ask better questions about what you're doing. It actually accelerated the sales engagement or enablement. Because now advisors solve more problems, because they were all revealed. And it didn't take two months to get there. We did it in 15 minutes. So it's a it's interesting to see how, if you can help the client understand their life better, you will get faster to how I can help you and earn the credibility as a result trust.

Rich Walker 8:48

Yeah, I don't. I know, there are financial professionals out there who just want the sale, they want to make money, but I think at the heart of most 99%, they care about their customer, and trying to do well by them, right? And you're helping them see how they can do better with those clients. Because of those gaps in the analysis. There's no question then, I want to ask you why you started this business. And it's pretty obvious why you started this business. But how hard was it then to switch from being a financial adviser to fintech?

Adam Holt 9:15

You know, I don't know that I ever really switched in my heart. I'm still a financial advisor. And it just it just expanded my audience from just consumers and investors to other financial advisors from a mentor standpoint, in my role in the company as a CEO is really to make sure that the product still matches what the consumer needs. In our case, financial visors, really be the voice of the advisor, and also educate people as to what's possible. Thankfully, we've been really successful at doing this solving the problem for other advisors that we've built a scalable team and I have a fantastic management team that allows me to stay in the clouds if you will, and be idealistic. So, you know, I've been been good to have operators in both the financial planning company which has as some 25 people still today, although I've given up my licenses so that I could really focus on Asset-Map and not be in a compliance kind of oversight situation. That was an interesting process, by the way, rich to give up my give up the Aum business. But it's been really rewarding the past, I would say now, five, six years where I've been really full time on asset map, it has been a lifestyle transition. Certainly, the pandemic I think, facilitated that a lot. But interestingly enough, our firm was almost 90% 95%, fully remote for the last nine years. So we were very comfortable with running a practice a certain way. And then layering the FinTech company on top of it was, was seemingly an easy transition, but I tightwad, if I didn't have the the financial planning business, it would have been there were been some really rough years in Asset-Map, because we use one to supplement the other.

Rich Walker 10:55

You know, I wish I'd had that benefit, I gave up my licenses pretty quickly, because I hadn't grown the financial planning business well enough. And I decided I'm gonna help more advisors serve clients, then I can help clients individually. So I want to ask you, then you obviously your end users the advisor, right, but do you consider the investor your client to?

Adam Holt 11:13

Yeah, I mean, very often, we get put in this position where B to B to C, right, so we're affecting the consumer through another business, we actually have experimented with delivering parts of our capability directly to the consumer on behalf of the advisor, because there has been a lot of requests for the consumer to get more empowered, how do I help my consumers feel like they're part of it not just always talked to presented to, but now they're actually part of it, without feeling like they needed to go to a personal financial management tool and log in aggregate and then just be confused, wondering what's going on. So you'll see Asset-Map actually move into the consumer experience even more just because I think that's table stakes rich, getting getting our consumers to be not only sticky, but also look to us and collaborate on this stuff. There's a huge movement right now, as you can imagine, in the DIY space, right, a consumers want to help themselves, they want to do it themselves, they may not want an advisor, and maybe they're entertaining Robo advice. And this is a massive part of the marketplace. Interestingly enough, a good amount of the high net worth families do have a financial advisor because they're they don't see the cost as a barrier. And they know they have complexity for which they could easily not have a do over. And so they typically want a professional advice. But there's an enormous part of the of the marketplace, of potential investors and next generation and advise individuals who haven't yet chosen their advisor, they're gonna get compelled to go to robo advisor do it themselves. And so we need to actually capture and bring those people into a professional relationship. And that's what we're going to use asset map for down the line.

Rich Walker 12:54

Now, that's smart. Because I think a lot of that generation, the Gen X, the sorry, the Gen. Millennials and the Gen z's. They're used to configuring the options the way they want it. And so they're looking for that kind of flexibility and how they choose people and services, and you can help them see it more clearly. So I'm curious how you want your first customer, you don't have to name the first customer, but I mean, it's always hard to bridge that gap. Have I got a great product? How do I get somebody else to buy it and use it?

Adam Holt 13:22

Well, I tend to think of our first customer is another advisor right outside of our firm we had been using. And to give you an idea. In 2006, I got Asset-Map compliance approved by my broker dealer. And when I did that I my revenue like you had said and your experience of doubling your AUM, I tripled our revenue three years in a row. So 300% 300%, three, MSL and by 2009, I was thinking, Gosh, this thing has legs. If anybody else knew about it, I'd be giving away my secret sauce. So I basically took a significant amount of money. I didn't have kids yet. And I invested in in technology, and I wasted enormous amounts of money, as I'm sure you can relate. I didn't know what I was doing. I just had a vision and I had money and I was thinking, Okay, we're gonna create this app in 2009. It wasn't until 2012. I showed it at a top producer conference at the time it was a broker dealer. I was the youngest guy there and they said, Okay, kids, your time to show what you're doing best practice sharing. And I showed acid map and 20 people from that audience asked me specifically could they use it? Why? Because they said they had the same problem. Complexity. I love I'm doing this on a yellow pad, a whiteboard, a smartboard I'm trying to draw people's lives to help educate them. If I could do this fast, I wouldn't have to draw you because you can't even read my handwriting. If I could do this digitally. This would be fantastic. And and so we allowed it was actually 2012 February. So it's the it's our 11th year I just went back to this event just last week, ironically, and met a lot of those people who started with us and that basically I exploded to 90 by the end of the year. And the next the next year was 300 advisors. And that community literally grew us virally until their enterprise actually did a full enterprise deal and gave it to all their advisors. So put us on the map in many ways as a keystone customer. But we had proved it time and time again. So we had really strong metrics that showed that advisors who used asset map made 30 40% or more revenue, sitting next to the person who wasn't using Asset-Map, same kind of length of time in the business. So I think what's been interesting to us looking back now that we have all that data for seven years now that what really is interesting is that if you deliver a great customer experience, you will make more revenue. And that's and that's really, I think, we tend to think of customer experience, as Oh, that's a nice to have fluffy thing. No, it, it yields directly to your top line revenue and recurring revenue. And we've actually proved that and I think that it's important that your customers and our audience here really thinks about what it means to them. And the bottom line,

Rich Walker 16:08

that is a theme that I talked about a lot that Gartner Group, Microsoft, they've both done studies year after year, demonstrating that if you improve your customer experience, you will improve your revenue. We've done it in our own company, our customers are growing by 7% versus 2%. In the industry year over year, right. And I'm not trying to take credit for that. I'm saying they're focused on an excellent customer experience. And that's why they're growing.

Adam Holt 16:31

Yeah, I'm sure and a very clear pain point. Because what quick does is very clear, it's not obscure, and there's enormous opportunities to have leverage

Rich Walker 16:39

here. Can you tell my wife that she can't explain what I do yet,

Adam Holt 16:41

but just haven't watched the podcast? I mean, that's the perfect.

Rich Walker 16:46

So let me get this straight. You built this for yourself, used it for three years, tripled your business three times in a row, and then said, I'm going to build TAC, you took you three years to get the tech to market? Did you build it for three

Adam Holt 16:58

years? I didn't know I was going to take it to market. No, I did I did it take three years. The problem? Yes, actually, that's true. I can't believe I didn't think of it that way. Yes, it took three years of me funding this pet project on my own, funded by my own growth. So thankfully, I had the business revenue to, but we were making the money back so fast, it made sense to invest in our own technology. It wasn't until 2012 that we actually showed it and I think had the capacity to say maybe let's test this with this group. And I said, like, give me 90% of the room actually signed up. So that was our first I think validation, as you know, because we're constantly looking for is this really going to work as much as we think it's going to work. And we did have that validation, people are actually willing to put real capital behind it in the form of of dollars. I don't know that it was always intentional. And I and there are a lot of people that reach out to me, I'm sure you can relate to this said, Should I start a technology company, I've got an idea. I tend to be pretty much unless you have the capital and and a forgiving spouse and family. I don't know that I would make that move, especially if you're gonna give up a profitable business. But I think that that's a, it's it's definitely been, we've been very blessed and lucky that it has worked out. Never it works out exactly as you think it is right? Rich, it's never the path is not quite as clear as we think it is when we start. But it's been very rewarding.

Rich Walker 18:19

Yeah, I really encourage people to become entrepreneurs. But if they say Tech, I say, Look minimum six figures. And you're gonna build it three times once to prove it can work once to make it work, and the third time to make it sellable, or customers use it. But you're also saying something I think it's really fascinating, that's typical of entrepreneur journeys is that you built this for yourself, not really thinking you're gonna give it out, I built forms for myself never thinking I was gonna give it out. And when you hear people say over and over, I want that I need that I pay for it, then you're like, well, maybe there's something here we should go after. Yeah, that's very true. Very true. So do you think you've helped your customers or any of your customers triple their business?

Adam Holt 18:59

I've been told that that has happened. We just literally was just looking at testimonies this morning, just gentleman in Canada said that he's brought in $12 million of new assets in the last three months using Asset-Map and he's just blown away by it. So, you know, the interesting thing about all of our tools and technologies is it's really all about what people will use, right? They I think a lot of us buy gadgets and tech and so forth. aspirationally we think oh gosh, if I could just this would be great. But then we find a lot of people just don't use the tool it even a fraction of what its capability is and I think the key is I have seen a lot of people buy technology and not invest into training and the commitment to action is no different than the Peloton or or any type of thing that's supposed to improve your the quality of your life if you're not using it not training on it, not learning how to use it. It's just going to sit there and gather dust. Interestingly enough, a lot of advisors have shared with us that they just use our data gathering function. I can send you a link or I can send it to 1000 people right now and in 15 minutes, they can give me their full fact vine and I can have it on my phone for 15 minutes a full asset map, like that's pretty amazing when typically, they used to take either Okay, put in your credentials for 15 different accounts, and they're half broken. Or it's bring me a shoebox of 500 documents that I know you don't know what's in there, it's going to be going through your, your junk mail just as much as your statements. And both of those processes are just a waste of time, as you know, very well horrible meeting forms. And for us, we figured out how to do it with a consumer list. Some of our advisors, they literally just use the phone discovery tool, and they just send it before the meeting and they walk in and the full fact find is on the screen visually, they're like, that's good enough for me, I don't need to know that you could do planning and you could do cash flow modeling, and you could do AI behind the scenes, which we can do. They're like, 2% of the tool works for me, I'm just going to make money from it. So I kind of go back and forth with do we continue to build more robustness of the tool? Or do we double down on the one or two things that are just really differentiators? And it's, it's tough to make that decision? I'm sure you can relate.

Rich Walker 21:07

Oh, yeah, no, that's a very tough decision, you got to constantly think ahead for that, hey, I'm curious, on a different level out of having having been a financial advisor building a FinTech company, you're obviously successful. How has this all changed you?

Adam Holt 21:21

I don't know. I think I've got I want to say I've gotten more humble, I'm not sure everybody agrees with me. But you know, I'm older. Of course, that changes I'm pushing 50 now, and I've got an 11 year old and, you know, we're, I've, I've really been critical in my own financial planning business to be present. And the way that I defined that Rich is that I take my kids to school every morning, and then I come to work and I'm home at 530 Every day, no matter what, no matter what fires burning are, I've really cut back on travel extremely especially pandemic helped me with that, but I'm very present, I'm home every weekend, I'm not working. And so I have set that precedent for the entire company. But we know that we shut down at five 530 Unless there's obviously some crazy emergency. But the point is, is we've really tried to f