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Leveraging AI Technology To Provide Holistic Financial Advice With Charlie Clark


Charlie Clark

Charlie Clark is the Chief Revenue Officer of FP Alpha, the first AI-driven wealth management tool for financial advisors. He kickstarted his career at eMoney Advisor, where he served as SVP of Sales and Business Development until its acquisition by Fidelity Investments. With over 20 years of experience in the fintech industry, Charlie has a proven track record of building and leading successful sales teams.



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

  • Charlie Clark talks about FP Alpha and what it offers

  • How FP Alpha is leveraging AI to help financial advisors become better

  • Charlie’s reasons for getting into the AI world

  • What are the challenges of using AI in the financial advisor’s industry?

  • Tips for measuring success as a FinTech firm

  • Charlie’s favorite customer success stories

  • The wealth tech industry and how to excel in it


In this episode…


Providing financial advice to clients is a time-consuming process. With so many documents to go through and varying client needs to consider, keeping up with everything can be daunting. Fortunately, the power of artificial intelligence technology can make this process much easier and more efficient.


According to Charlie Clark, leveraging AI technology as a financial advisor can help you advance to the next level. With its help, you can quickly sift through large amounts of data to identify the most relevant information for each client. It means you save time, stay relevant, and deliver advice tailored to each individual's needs. The possibilities of AI today are ever-growing, so here is what you need to know


In this episode of The Customer Wins, Richard Walker sits down with Charlie Clark, Chief Revenue Officer of FP Alpha, to discuss the value of leveraging AI technology in the wealth management industry. Charlie explains how FP Alpha uses AI to help financial advisors become better, the challenges of using AI, tips for measuring success as a FinTech firm, and advice for salespeople in the space.


Resources mentioned in this episode:


Sponsor for this episode...


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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.


Richard 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. Some of our past guests have included Parham Nasseri, Investorcom and Aaron Klein of Nitrogen. Today I'm speaking with Charlie Clark, the Chief Revenue Officer of FP Alpha. And today's episode is brought to you by Quik! the leader in enterprise forms processing. When the last step to earning your clients business requires processing forms don't ruin a good relationship with a bad experience. Instead, get Quik Forms make processing forms a great experience and the easiest part of your transaction visit quikforms.com to get started. Before I introduce today's guest, I have to give a big thank you to Chip Kispert of Beacon Strategies for introducing me to Charlie. Go check out Chip's website at beaconstrategiesllc.com to learn how they help wealth management firms evolve. All right, I'm really excited to introduce Charlie Clark, the Chief Revenue Officer of FP Alpha. Charlie started his career in FinTech 25 years ago at eMoney Advisor, he held the SVP business development and sales roles until they sold the company to Fidelity. And what a great experience. Prior to joining eMoney, Charlie founded and sold a travel technology company that created online portals for business travelers to track their travel points and awards in one place. Charlie has been an integral part of many of the changes and innovations that have positively impacted financial advisors and their client experiences over the last 25 years. Charlie, welcome to The Customer Wins.


Charlie Clark 1:52

Good to be with you Rich.


Richard Walker 1:54

Now, look, if you haven't heard this podcast before, I love talking to business leaders about what they're doing to help their customers win, how they build and deliver great customer experiences, and the challenges they face to growing their own company. So Charlie, let's understand your business a little bit better? How does your company help people?


Charlie Clark 2:11

Sure, Rich. So I'm with FP Alpha. And alpha FP Alpha is leveraging artificial intelligence technology, to help advisors accomplish several things mostly focused on building their core business, which is delivering holistic advice. And we pretty much help financial advisors solve for what has commonly been referred to today, as the advice gap, where financial advisors over the last 25 years have been wildly successful, helping their clients accumulate wealth. And now, advisors, as a result are asking. I mean, clients are asking advisers for more help. Other than just comprehensive financial planning, they're asking them for things that that are happening over a 20, 30 year advisor-client relationship for advice that that is topical, at the moment, for example, older clients are asking for advice for helping take care of their parents to helping, they're asking for advice from clients, from advisors for things like, now that I'm making a good amount of money, how do I manage my taxes better, how I protect my net worth through things like umbrella policies and things like that. And right now, they really don't have a place to go. And FP Alpha gives them a platform for them to prepare to engage clients in these conversations with very little time commitment.


Richard Walker 4:01

It's amazing what you just said, and given your history in the tech world, as we get more tech, people use it, and then they want more. I mean, it's like, we think, oh, I'm gonna save people so much time and what you end up doing has given them the ability to do so much more now. They actually asked for more. So I'm curious. I mean, with FP Alpha, what's the AI doing? What are you guys doing to help improve this advice gap?


Charlie Clark 4:24

That's a great question because when people hear artificial intelligence, it's kind of like beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Artificial Intelligence is really the technology driving so much innovation right now. And much of it is now starting to make its way finally, into the advisor-client relationship where we use artificial intelligence is with the extraction of information from documents, such as estate documents, tax returns, insurance policies, so that we can take literally how hundreds of pages of forms and documents and convert them into easy to understand, easy to explain snapshots. So that advisor can meet with their client, and very quickly engage them in a meaningful, relevant conversation filled with insights and recommendations. And ultimately financial advice that the client can then take away which is actionable. And have an immediate impact on their life.


Richard Walker 5:33

So a financial advisor then would ask your client for a copy of their trust agreement, their estate plan their will, things like that, and then hand it over to FP Alpha, and you guys would read it, or your AI would read it?


Charlie Clark 5:47

Yeah, I mean, and that's not a big ask, right? I mean, just about every advisor knows that if they're not the primary trusted adviser for each of their clients, or if that's not their goal, they pretty much run the risk of losing that client, because there's other advisors who are working with those same clients who do want to have that position, the quarterback position, so it's fair for them to ask them look, if you don't have these documents, will, a power of attorney or a health care directive, you know, given that you have wealth, you really ought to, just like the audit have an umbrella policy to protect your net worth, and they ought to have, they don't have their tax returns. So once they have these documents, they think that, that's all they need to do. Well, the fact is, collecting dust is not the best way to put those documents to work for their clients. So we give them away to send those documents on our platform. And then within minutes, we actually convert those into snapshots that the adviser can use to explain to the client, how they can improve their life with very little time commitment.


Richard Walker 7:05

So your advertising needs to be you can take your plan and collect dust, roll it up and swap flies or FP Alpha and get actionable intelligence from it. So sorry, I did that'd be a fun advertisement. But are you then saving the advisor the headache of having to read these dense documents to discern what's in it, then? Is that the main time saver?


Charlie Clark 7:29

Yeah. The biggest commodity that an advisor has today is their time, right? And the biggest challenge they have is how do they spend most of that time delivering holistic financial advice that our clients, the problem is they have all these technology tools, which is great. But most of these tools require the advisors to put time into those tools and modules inside those tools to be able to prepare, strategies, techniques, all these things. And forget about reading the documents that they've been asked to gather, so that they can build that better relationship with our clients.

Richard Walker 8:14

Yeah, man, that's awesome. Because I got a C minus at my law class. So that's the last thing I want to do is read more contracts and agreements, even though I do plenty of that as a CEO. Charlie, what attracted you to this? What made you want to dive into this AI world?


Charlie Clark 8:31

Well, I guess, I feel that for last 25 years, and this is a credit to eMoney, I feel that we started kind of like the financial planning era, that we've been living in. And if you look at the innovation back in 2000 that eMoney used to start this, this whole financial planning movement. It was based off of screen scraping technology for account aggregation. It was based off of an online document storage technology. And it was a client portal. And you might use credit, they really introduced amazing graphics that can jump off a page to make it very visually easy for an advisor to walk a client through whatever recommendation that they had. And now, I feel like we're at that same place. But now moving into something that we like to call advanced financial planning, where we're now using artificial intelligence to really allow advisors to take that client relationship to the next level. And we're giving them a platform that covers just about every scenario that a client over 20, 30 years is going to have, and we allow advisors to really engage those clients in those conversations. And with very little time commitment, and yet still have an effective outcome, a meaningful outcome that just keeps that relationship moving forward.


Richard Walker 10:20

Yeah. Now, it's super important. And I love that you look at this from an evolution standpoint, obviously you've been part of this for a very long time. So you've seen a lot of evolution. But I think a lot of people miss out, especially as they get further into their career, they kind of just hit a plateau and level set. And instead, you're saying, how do we keep moving forward? How do we keep progressing in our industry in our field?


Charlie Clark 10:43

We absolutely have to. The advisor, to maintain their relevancy with our clients needs to embrace newer technology to be able to implement it into their practice, because if they stop meeting their clients, where they live in their lives, clients are going to go elsewhere to be able to take care of those needs. And FP Alpha’s mission is to keep the advisor relevant in the lives of their clients. And I think the fact that FP Alpha was started by Andrew Altfest, a very successful financial advisor, in his own right kind of accentuates that point, that he doesn't believe that technology can replace the adviser, he believes technology can help make be a financial adviser a lot more effective,


Richard Walker 11:48

I have a personal place for people like him, because I was a financial planner, who said, I don't like filling out forms. So I built tech. And I love it when founders come from their area of expertise, and join the tech firms or join the tech revolution that bring better solutions to bear. I want to ask a slightly different question about AI, because you're so focused on it, you're seeing it, and I'll share a quick story with you. I just interviewed George Salmas is a lawyer to food companies. And he was talking about a case that went up in Washington DC recently, where the lawyers use chat GPT to present their arguments and chat GPT invented the cases and the precedents as it was totally false. And the judge knew it. So, that kind of potential for calamity, and we're seeing that with marketing content, and whatever. Do you think you guys have a risk of the AI steering the advisor the wrong way somehow?


Charlie Clark 12:43

That's a great question. Because I think, right now, that's one of the hardest issues in front of firms, broker-dealers, and you really financial services companies. And that is, where do we want the financial advice coming from? And how do we want to use artificial intelligence, we use it as purely extraction, after we extract all the relevant information that many advisors really don't know how to go looking for it in a tax return or in a legal document, or an insurance policy. We were able to extract it and put it into an easy-to-understand format. Well, where I think advisors are at risk of misusing artificial intelligence is when they feel that they can use it to help create the very advice that should only come from them. And not from any artificial tool. And so as long as financial advisors are looking at chat GPT as a way to create benefits for them and not create advice, I think that's the proper way to look at it. But from our standpoint, all the recommendations generated from within our platform, all the insurance, tax and estate recommendations, and there's many of them. Those are all created from subject matter experts, knowledgeable experts with hundreds of years of collective industry experience. That's what's on our platform and what we've built our decision trees. This is after the artificial intelligence that can take a client situation and know which individual recommendations to pull so that the environment can kind of put those in front of the client.


Richard Walker 14:58

Yeah, that's awesome, I think it's fascinating to kind of diagnose the AI trend right now. Because in last year, December 1 November 30, chat CPT was released into the wild. And people like myself became enamored with it, like, oh my gosh, it does all these things. But the truth is, we've been working with AI's or flavors of AI's for quite some time, right. And most people are experiencing AI through a very thoughtful, carefully designed process where it's being applied to data, for example, or process. And so what you end up with a great result is something that was purpose-built, like you're talking about, what are all the different kinds of documents? You mentioned, forms, too? What kind of documents do you guys cover?


Charlie Clark 15:39

Your so, again, our goal is for advisors to be able to incorporate things like tax advice, estate advice, insurance advice into their client relationships. So we actually will take a tax return every type of tax return imaginable they can upload it, and then within minutes, we can turn around and extract the relevant information from that return, and then put it into a snapshot, the same thing with a property and casualty and umbrella policies, things that are important for helping clients protect their net worth. And then lastly, on the state side, all the various state docs, trusts, wills, powers of attorney, health care directives, amendments, all those things, and trust can get pretty complicated between grasp breaths, flips, eyelets, all those things, we can actually read all those documents, and deliver to the client in very little time that family tree that advisors have been relying on you that are marketing departments to build or their state attorneys to create, we can basically extract all that information and build it so that the advisor doesn't have to.


Richard Walker 17:13

That's awesome. I asked this question, Charlie, because we're actually getting ready to launch a new AI-driven product called Form Extract this fall. And it's going to read the completed submitted documents that people fill out to open accounts do service requests, any form they fill out repetitively, will be able to read every single data point off of that form, with 99.9% accuracy. And it's context-rich, we know it's owner, one versus owner two versus beneficiary number three, we should talk about how we could partner together because you guys are after the fact after the documents are completed, the accounts are open. We're talking before the fact in a sense, but also, this is why I love AI, it's like you can apply it to these really dense problems that nobody likes, and solve these things and give people back their time plus better results when it comes down to it.


Charlie Clark 18:02

Absolutely. And that's why I, you know, came back to chat, GPT, there's so many great places for chat GPT can actually make a positive impact. But I always caution, if anyone's thinking about chatGPT to actually create advice, that is the only place where I think it just has no place within financial services. But if you look at chat, CPT for capturing client conversations and meeting notes and things like that, which to upholstery, 60s billing, and using it to actually enhance the client-advisor relationship. Those are all the proper applications. We use AI for extraction, but there's so many ways that it can be used, and I'm just happy that it's finally made its way into the advisor-client relationship.


Richard Walker 19:14

Yeah, one of my favorite uses of chat GPT is to treat it like a assistant or appear and do brainstorming, and idea generation, and problem-solving, but not content generation, unless it's a child's book for my kids, which I did one last night. It was fun. Charlie, let me ask you something. I mean, you've been in the sales and business development roles for a really, really long time. How do you measure whether your clients are having success with you and whether you're delivering a great experience to them or not? How do you know that they're happy?


Charlie Clark 19:44

That's a great question. I think that's one of the biggest challenges that every FinTech firm faces. We base success, off of usage. Every advisor has their a client's or b clients or c clients and the only way for us as one of their vendors and gauge whether or not we're actually creating value, or we're actually delivering on the promise for why they bought us is just based off usage. There's so many ways that our customers can actually use us, they can use us for tackling some of their more difficult cases, whether a client's right, the a client's generate the majority of their revenues. So many of our customers are actually using us. And I think this is the proper way. Because they have the resources inside their firm to take care of the complicated cases where their top clients, they're always very complicated and they want to make sure that they're not missing anything, or risk missing anything which could hurt the relationship. So many of our customers, most of them actually are using us, for their B and C clients. These are clients who still have wealth, they still need to transfer it, they're still making money. So they're worried about paying too much in taxes. And they love the fact that we offer not just a snapshot of the year that was or a snapshot of this is what their estate documents say today. But we offer forward-looking advice, because that's really where an advisor can impact the wealth, and the health of their financial clients of their clients is through that forward-looking part of our platform. And those are recommendations. But we base everything out of usage, if our customers are actually using our tool, and putting many of their clients and uploading documents for their clients on our platform. That's our leading indicator of how well we're doing.


Richard Walker 21:58

There's something subtle that you said in there, though, that I think comes back to the promise of AI. So many people are concerned about AI putting people out of jobs or what have you. And I've often said it's going to be people who use AI that replace people, not the AI itself. I've also believed that AI is helping lower-skilled workers do higher-skilled jobs. But you said something else I hadn't actually thought of AI is enabling service providers to serve lower-end clients better with more fulfillment than before. Because just because you're a B or C client might just mean that you have fewer activities, fewer companies you own or real estate investments, or what have you, you still want the advice, you still want the help and guidance, right?


Charlie Clark 22:41

Not only that Rich, b and c clients, the perception is that b and c client is someone who has a lower net worth, for many advisors of b and c clients could actually be a potentially a client, but they just don't have enough of their clients wallet, offering these types of services, given that most advisors aren't because they also don't have the time is a great way to build that relationship, the trust and credibility, the rapport, so that clients can feel better and more confident I've given them 100% of all their wealth, and that brings that moves them up to an a client. But there's so much of that out there. And engaging these clients in those conversations, tax insurance, the state is really the best way to demonstrate how much more value and advisory often their clients.


Richard Walker 23:38

I also have to say I love these types of meetings, Charlie and meeting your company and learning what you guys do because the premise of my company is to empower people to do their best work and you're doing exactly that. You're helping the adviser get through some of the mundane boring stuff so they can help their client with better advice. And move them into the a client position sometimes I think that's fantastic. Do you have a favorite customer success story that you might want to share?


Charlie Clark 24:03

Favorite customer success story? There's so many instances of where companies that I've worked with at eMoney and after eMoney, where they've really been able to leverage technology, I would just say that all the companies that I've worked with over the last 20, 25 years the best success is helping our customers take their firm to the next level. This is more than just outside the advisor the impact on a financial advisor, helping firms really grow their business, introducing technology. So for example, there's a great success story where there are these very successful RAA firms who I was working with Rich Kankuro an advisor engine, where you have these very successful firms who have minimums of wealth before they'll actually work with a client. And they introduced advisor engines technology to help onboard clients so they could start offering that high level of advice to smaller accounts, customers, clients, and by using advisor engine, they were able to grow their practice, add small accounts, which ultimately help feed their business and help it grow down the road, it was also a great way to help take on smaller accounts, from children of their high net worth clients to start building that relationship with the next generation. And that is something that I find very exciting about FP Alpha, we've got stories after stories from our customers, where we've been helping them build relationships with the children of their clients. And with FP Alpha, we don't just help them with that, we help them identify which are the children, they really ought to be spending more time with, because these are the executors to those states. And this is information that they never would have had without FP Alpha. I think building relationships with the next generation is definitely one of the biggest challenges that financial advisors face. And I think that for financial advisors to become very good at building those types of relationships. I think that really is the next year in their client relationship.


Richard Walker 26:47

Yeah, for sure. Because they're seeing so many of those assets, walk out the door as those kids become inheritors, or reach an age of decision-making. And it's funny, Charlie, because I joined my mentor in his business to become a financial advisor. And the original premise was, I would work with the children. And I didn't know what to do with them, actually, because they didn't have any assets yet. It was a long time ago. But I know that's a really, really big challenge. So that's very cool that FP Alpha is helping to solve that by pointing out the direction. And who are the people involved in these trusts and estates, etc. Because I think the other thing is the executors don't necessarily know what they're doing. They've been appointed, but they don't know what it means, right? Yeah. We didn't talk a lot about your sales background, and all the things that you've done, but I'm just wondering if you could share a couple of secrets or lessons that you've learned to help other business leaders help their customers win and in turn brother business?


Charlie Clark 27:43

Sure. So I think the biggest challenge that salespeople in wealth tech or in FinTech have is actually I think there's two things one, they treat every advisor who shows interest in their technology, they treat them the same. So not only they treat them the same, they try to put them through the same sales process, they put them through the same sales demo. And they show the same, they feel they have covered the entire product in a demo. Well, the problem is these products are very broad, and they only have 30 minutes to really engage and show them the product to try to generate interest. Well, that's the biggest challenge that salespeople have. Because when you treat every advisor the same, because those financial advisors have different problems, they have different goals that they're trying to satisfy by taking a look at technology. And once you're able to get a salesperson away from that thinking and get them to properly qualify, the financial advisor advisors really want three things, they either want to grow assets under management, they want to sell more products where they want to build, find something to help improve the client advisor relationship. Finding time, finding more time is probably a pretty close fourth. Well, and if a FinTech salesperson doesn't establish that upfront, they really don't have a goal or they don't have a need that their den was going to satisfy and in sales, if there's no goal, there's no need and no problem, then there's no sale. And it's that simple. And so I've spent my time building sales models and processes for salespeople to follow that help them treat each individual advisor individually, and to identify upfront how they're going to sell that individual advisor based on what their goals and needs and problems are and I've seen tremendous results, once that happens.


Richard Walker 30:10

This cartoon plays in my head when you're talking about this, the guy on the street with the cloak, and he opens it up, he has all these different watches hanging down. And he's not asking what kind of watch you need, what do you need the purpose of watch to serve et cetera? He's just like, which one do you want. And with those many choices, you don't know what you want, right? But when a salesperson sits down and says, let me understand your need, let me understand the pain points you've had, let me understand what you've tried to solve those pain points. Let me understand the technologies you're already using. And then we do a demo, then we talk about how we can solve those problems, it becomes way more focused, and then more valuable to the client. So I think that is such good advice, Charlie.


Charlie Clark 30:48

Yeah, the other thing Rich, I would just say, or I've had success is helping salespeople take advisors, to an emotional buying decision, not an informed buying decision, but an emotional buying decision. If at the end of our sales process we have an advisor, who can visually see themselves, putting their clients through the same demo that they just saw, if at the end of the sales process, an advisor can arrive at the decision of I want this, I really want this, I like this, and I want it as long as the price is within reason that advisors going to buy the technology. So those two things, if you can get the sales team to be effective in those two areas, you're gonna become a market leader. It's that simple.


Richard Walker 31:53

I love it. I love it. The entire list is really, really good talking to you. So we're gonna wrap this up here in a second, I do have another question for you. But before I ask it, what's the best way for people to connect with you and find you?


Charlie Clark 32:04

Sure, you can reach out to me by my email is cclark@fpalpha.com. You can actually go to our website, and we have sales at fpalpha.com. Or you can just go if you're interested as an advisor, go and sign up for a demo. And I'm not too far away from my sales team. But I just walked you through is pretty much how we work at FP Alpha.


Richard Walker 32:33

Awesome. All right. Here's my last question. Who has had the biggest impact on your leadership style? Or how you approach your role today?


Charlie Clark 32:42

That's a great question. Before I answer it, I'll tell you that on LinkedIn, I see so much about leadership, which is great. But what I don't hear enough about or see enough about is actually mentorship. I think there is a lack of mentorship out there. And I think that there's an opportunity for sales leaders, or any leaders to really invest time and mentoring people who have trusted their careers to them. And so, someone who I believe, by feel was a great mentor for me, is someone named Michael Mooradian. He's CEO of a company called Funnel Metrics. And he taught me how to effectively manage the sales organization, and also, how to coach and develop salespeople. And those are things that I've never forgotten, and I apply pretty much every day today.


Richard Walker 33:55

It's so awesome to hear about great mentors in your lives. Thank you for sharing that with us. All right, I wanted to say a big thank you to Charlie Clark, Chief Revenue Officer of FP Alpha for being on this episode of The Customer Wins. Go check out FP Alphas website at fpalpha.com. And don't forget to check out Quik! at quikforms.com where we make forms processing easy. I hope you've enjoyed this discussion, and we'll click the like button, share this with someone and even subscribe to our channel for future episodes of The Customer Wins. Charlie, thank you so much for being here today.


Charlie Clark 34:27

Thanks. Thanks for having me, Rich.


Outro 34:31

Thanks for listening to The Customer Wins podcast. We'll see you again next time and be sure to click Subscribe to get future episodes.

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